With a focus on Minecraft’s strongest aspects, Minecraft Legends might just end up being one of the best spinoff games the series has seen.
Minecraft has achieved a massive amount of popularity, quickly rising to be one of the biggest video games of all time. Minecraft alone has managed to outsell some of the biggest gaming franchises of all time. Minecraft spinoffs are always interesting to talk about, as while many of them had some fascinating ideas that expanded the lore of Minecraft, none were able to quite capture the original game’s spirit.
Minecraft is a game about endless creativity. Outside traveling to the End and defeating the Enderdragon, there really aren’t any concrete goals for players to aim for. Players make their own stories as they journey through the game’s procedurally generated sandbox world. That sense of openness tends to be absent from a lot of Minecraft spinoffs, however. Players expect that openness when they play a Minecraft game, which seems to be something that the Minecraft Legends developers have taken heavily into consideration.
Minecraft Legends Adapts Its Genre to the Series’ Formula
During the recent Xbox Developer_Direct, the team behind Minecraft Legends shared some of the stories of their playtest sessions. They also talked about their personal strategies, showing off a ton of different ways to play the game. One noteworthy part was when the developers began talking about the game’s base-building mechanics. While the building mechanics aren’t quite as freeform as Minecraft‘s, they’re still incredibly robust.
A few base examples that the developers gave included one that was designed with protection in mind, including reinforced walls and a single main entrance away from any important buildings. Another example was one that had a massive maze in front of the main door, giving the defenders plenty of time to wear down potential invaders. It’s fascinating to see how many base-building strategies from Minecraft have seemingly translated to Minecraft Legends.
The base-building in particular highlights how Minecraft Legends is taking the conventions of strategy games and changing them to fit with what players expect from a Minecraft game. Building a strong defense is a huge part of many strategy games, so it makes sense to mix creative building with that aspect. In the Developer Direct, the Minecraft Legends team highlighted how the three major components of bases are made up of walls, gates, and towers, but those three elements can be mixed together in a lot of creative ways.
Procedural Generation Is the Key to Nailing a Minecraft Game
One part of the Developer Direct that many fans were excited to see was that Minecraft Legends would feature procedural world generation for the game’s maps. While these won’t be anywhere near as expansive as Minecraft, the examples the team showed off looked amazing and featured a huge variety of terrain features. Having good procedural generation is an incredibly important part of what makes Minecraft work, so seeing Legends make use of it is a great sign.
Much like with how base-building was incorporated, the procedurally generated maps have also added a ton to the strategy game formula. In many RTS games, the map can often dictate what strategy a player ends up using. With each map being different from the last, players will need to think on the fly to plan their team’s tactics around it. Minecraft Legends looks like it might reward creative players who can adapt their strategies on the fly.
Minecraft Legends May Have What Other Spinoffs Have Lacked
Minecraft Earth, while an interesting concept, wasn’t able to live up to its full potential due to the unfortunate timing of a global pandemic. Minecraft Dungeons was generally considered to be a fun dungeon crawler, but it lacked originally in its genre. Both games tried to incorporate creativity into their design, though neither fully attempted to reward players for using creativity as much as Minecraft Legends aims to.
While there are likely still going to be meta strategies that players will gravitate to, Minecraft Legends really does feel like the kind of game where players will come away with their own stories of wild matches or unique strategies. As long as there are enough base-building options and things to do during a match, Legends is looking like it might just be a great blend of Minecraft and strategy games. If it can pull that off, it’ll be one of the best Minecraft spinoffs by far.
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