After the unrivalled success of the original Minecraft franchise and the lukewarm reception to Minecraft Dungeons, the series has now taken the strategy genre by the horns for a whole new spin on the block franchise. Minecraft Legends is a simplified action-RTX game. The emphasis on “simplified” is important here because Minecraft Legends clearly wants to cater to its younger audiences so the mechanics never truly expand to anything remotely complex.
From the get-go, Minecraft Legends is exactly what it is – a Minecraft game. The characters are familiar, the world is recognizable and the threat is somewhat real. Evil Piglins have spawned out of the Nether and are invading local settlements across the land. You play as “the hero” who has the ability to build structures and summon forth troops to help fight back.
Minecraft Legends is set in a procedurally-generated world so similar to its roots, each playthrough will also offer a unique world to explore. However, the simplistic approach to Minecraft Legends might also be the game’s downfall. While rallying troops across the land and raiding Piglin camps was fun, there’s no real level system in the game at all. So the rinse-and-repeat process becomes a rather tedious an mundane adventure after a while.
Where Minecraft Legends does shine is its unique take on the RTS genre. Instead of hosting a base somewhere in the distance which acts as your HQ, players walk about the land with their troops at all times. This is quite familiar to the Overlord series which followed a similar approach. Units can be summoned on the fly and I was able to build all sorts of structures at my will too.
These units all pack their own perks and which ones to summon when is ideally, the key to mastering the encounters. Golems, for example, deal heavy damage and have lots of health but are slow. Mossy Golem, on the other hand, are healers and vital to keeping your units alive. The hero in the game can also attack but the damage output isn’t reliable to the point where I could fight the battles without my troops.
The troop commands are also quite simple. I could tell them to attack something “over there” and follow me. You can’t really target specific troops and send them off to a certain area due to a group selection tool selecting mostly all of them at once. But then again, Minecraft Legends revolves around a few dozen troops so the micromanagement or lack thereof isn’t a train smash. However, it does get annoying when certain troops have certain weaknesses to other enemies.
Instead of being able to select only the strongest troops to take on the strongest foes, the game would bundle them all together and set them off at once. So the lack of what are essentially battle groups in RTS games does get in the way at times. It would have been nice to build troops and form groups, control them and actually feel like a general instead of being forced to send a healer to do a tank’s job.
While combat gets a bit wishy-washy after a while, resource collecting and base building is a lot of fun. The resource-collecting tool revolves around placing down a small fairy creature and letting it break down all the wood, stone and other resources in the area. I just left it there and as I carried on with my game, the little guy broke down the trees and rocks and my item counters kept increasing. It is such an easy system to manage and also quite satisfying to look at too.
Building structures is also fun. I selected the structure and simply placed them down. Walls are dragged out by moving the cursor across the screen too. It essentially takes two button presses to gather resources and the same to build stuff with them.
Of course, the building is all for protection and each base can get attacked by the Piglins. I was able to build bases while in the middle of an ongoing onslaught and before nighttime arrived to protect against the evening Piglin invasion. The Piglins don’t stand a chance and if anything, rarely made it past my defences.
The real heat of the battle came in when these opponents did manage to get past and arrived in their heavy hordes. During these encounters, I had to manage to gather new resources to fix broken walls, build new structures and replenish my troops. At times, it is all a bit frantic but really showcased the game’s RTS mechanics in their best light.
The fact that the map always has Piglin forces growing at different points all the time also kept me on my toes. These armies would arrive out of the blue so I always had to have myself ready for combat. As each map got more complex, more enemies were added, new structures and new threats. The game can get quite difficult far into each playthrough and I had to plan ahead for everything.
Sure, some maps didn’t go down as well as others. The game can be clumsy at times and troops get stuck on objects, fall off cliffs and feel like they don’t listen to commands. The worst is when this happens in the middle of the madness. It felt like the game gets in its own way at times. But I found unique ways to overcome some of the clumsiness thanks to other structures that help get around and fight.
I also need to mention that Minecraft Legends is fully playable in co-op with up to three players. I didn’t get to test this out but as far as I know, resources are shared among all three players and each player can also craft structures, summon troops and fight back.
While Minecraft Legends won’t win any RTS awards, it does stand out in the series as something wholly unique. The simplistic mechanics are approachable but the end-game sessions can be a bit annoying. In one way, the game welcomes the inexperienced in only for them to likely struggle with the gameplay later down the line.
This Minecraft Legends review is based on an Xbox Series X/S and Windows 11 code sent to us by Microsoft. The game is now available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC and Nintendo Switch. It is also available on Game Pass.
Minecraft Legends Review
Minecraft Legends is a somewhat fun RTS-like game that overlooks some vital strategy mechanics in favour of simplicity.
Easy to master
Best-looking Minecraft game
Wars get intense
Lacking most important RTS features