Hands-on with Minecraft Dungeons, the biggest reveal of Xbox Game Studio’s E3 2019

At E3 2019, Microsoft revealed the gameplay for Minecraft Dungeons for the first time, showing us that it draws more inspiration from Diablo than any other similar game. The previous teaser from a few months ago made me wonder if this was more of a Left 4 Dead style game, but the isometric 3D action RPG combat in the latest trailer is unmistakable. in all the right ways.

As good as Minecraft Dungeons looked on screen, it felt even better. A small team at Mojang is working on the title, and even though the game is nearly a year away from its launch window, the demo I played already had all the depth, polish, and addictive loot for me. leaving quite honestly desperate for more.

Here’s a little preview of Minecraft Dungeons, taken from our hands-on session at E3 2019, ahead of its targeted Spring 2020 launch window.

Minecraft Dungeons nails the ARPG combat feel

Minecraft Dungeons

Minecraft Dungeons (Image credit: Microsoft/Mojang)

Probably the closest possible comparison to Minecraft Dungeons for Xbox owners is Diablo III, with familiar control schemes and even UI elements across the board. However, there are some key differences that help Minecraft Dungeons stand out on its own.

There is no building mechanic in Minecraft Dungeons, instead the team has focused entirely on its combat systems. Even with a year of development, Dungeons is already just awesome.

Minecraft Dungeons already illustrates exactly how an ARPG should feel.

There is no strict class system. Instead, you’ll build your own “class” by choosing from a range of Minecraft-inspired weapons, including pickaxes, fishing rods for hooking mobs, swords, shields, spears, and more. In addition to this, there are also unique artifacts that grant magical powers. The sheer variety of options should ensure that no one feels like their preferred playstyles aren’t catered for. You can be a wizard wielding magic, prioritizing artifact spells, a heavy warrior with plate armor and a two-handed weapon, or an archer, with a personal wolf pet emphasizing l dodge and agility.

In practice, every weapon and ability we tried felt polished already. Built on the Unreal Engine, Minecraft Dungeons looks beautiful, despite its blocky aesthetic. It sports gorgeous HDR lighting and smooth frame rates, with various classic Minecraft environmental biomes depicted.

You’ll loot abandoned mines, ancient ocean temples, and crumbling desert tombs full of traps and all manner of monsters. With fully realized physics and dynamic lighting, smashing enemies with lightning, sending them cascading across the map and into walls or ledges gives the collision a real feel of physical impact. Again, Minecraft Dungeons already illustrates exactly how an ARPG should feel.

In our gameplay demo, we spent most of our time in one of the game’s desert-style ruins, which had all the types of monsters you’d expect. Mummified zombies, skeletons of defeated soldiers, and web-spitting spiders stood between us and the procedurally generated end goal, with plenty of room for off-the-beaten-track exploration. The game also features unique puzzles and events, which adds variety to the frantic battles.

Minecraft Dungeons

Minecraft Dungeons (Image credit: Microsoft)

Minecraft Dungeons has a narrative, which revolves around the defeat of Chief Arch-Illager, representing a faction introduced in Minecraft’s Village and Pillage update earlier this year. The story is very light though and only adds context to what your heroes are doing. One map’s objectives might be to rescue villagers, while another might be to defeat a boss. And oh boy, we got a glimpse of some of them.

Endermen are already feared fighters in the base Minecraft game, but in Dungeons they take on a new dimension of danger. Endermen now ignore your visibility using psionic power, in Minecraft Dungeons, and take significantly more damage than any regular mob, while teleporting away from all your abilities. Alongside the Endermen are new Necromancer monsters, which can spawn masses of skeletons and zombies, and Wraiths, which spread torrents of fire in an area of ​​effect. Due to the procedural generation of Minecraft Dungeons, these mobs can spawn on the map at any time, and can also come as a much larger boss variant, with unique tactics and special loot. Speaking of what…

Minecraft Dungeons All That Loot And Progress

The Dungeons team was keen to point out that they won’t be including any form of “pay-to-win” microtransactions in Dungeons, nor will they be adding game-style loot boxes. Instead of that, whatever you earn will be found Stake, as it should be, looting graves and mines. Minecraft Dungeons offers a few interesting RPG mechanics for this purpose, which fall into several categories.

As you level up and complete the story, Dungeons will open up its endgame difficulty scaling options.

Combat damage numbers reveal your progress as you grow in power, but in addition, your character sheet also shows your accumulated gear score. This level of “Power” also dictates the difficulty of procedurally generated dungeons, when you select them from your base camp. A more difficult map for your current power will give better rewards, but if you want a more relaxed experience, those will be offered as well.

Minecraft Dungeons has a huge range of weapons and artifacts planned for launch, around 20 per type, we were told, for melee, artifact “spells,” and ranged weapons. On top of all that, you can also enchant your abilities with unique modifiers. As in the base Minecraft game, you can spend your accumulated levels (not your gear power) to increase the strength of these enchantments. One of these enchantments we tried added chain lightning effects to melee strikes, while another added homing projectiles to our ranged attacks. Many of these abilities can also be charged for more variety. An ability added extra projectiles to an artifact that turned our bow into a firework launcher, creating doubled explosive arrows.

Each biome also comes with unique named loot and armor that can drop anywhere, either from regular mobs or chests, but are more likely to spawn from mini-bosses like Endermen or map bosses , like the giant Wraiths. One weapon we obtained looked like a serrated spear which, when enchanted with the “Echo” ability, gave us additional slashing blows for each trigger pull. And I keep saying it, but again, I felt right so good.

Along with regular loot, Minecraft Dungeons will also have consumables like food to maintain your health, as well as a potion on a cooldown cooldown. Dungeons will also have unique puzzle mechanics, including a cute Key Golem, which can unlock doors. However, dropping it will cause it to flee back to its spawn point. There are also “Piggybank” monsters that serve as loot pinatas, similar to the Treasure Goblins in Diablo.

Minecraft Dungeons Golem Key

Minecraft Dungeons Golem Key (Image credit: Microsoft)

As you level up and complete the story, Dungeons will open up its endgame difficulty scaling options, adding all-new challenges and loot tables for hungry adventurers. . Although Mojang declined to comment with a shy smile when I asked, it certainly struck me as there were plans for the ender dragon to also make an appearance in Dungeons at some point. I don’t think Minecraft Dungeoneers will run out of content to devour once this game hits stores.

Extremely promising future of Minecraft Dungeons

Minecraft Dungeons Bow and Arrow

Minecraft Dungeons Bow and Arrow (Image credit: Microsoft)

The sheer volume of variety in core gameplay, biomes, monsters, progression, and gear in our brief 30-minute hands-on session was nothing short of staggering. One thing I’ve heard since the E3 2019 reveal basically boils down to “I’m not a fan of Minecraft…but Dungeons looks cool”, and I think that’s where Mojang has successful presentation of this game. . It’s clearly Diablo, with the charm of Minecraft. It’s simply a winning formula, if of course they land the full game as well as they have this demo version.

Mojang is already planning post-launch support for the game, adding content through paid expansions and free updates as well. The game will launch for just $20, or $30 if you fancy the mini-season the game launches with, which will contain two pieces of DLC.

Minecraft Dungeons has the very real ability to be your future big game addiction.

It will have cross-play between Xbox and PC, with other platforms being explored, and will also launch on PS4 and Nintendo Switch, catering to the wider global Minecraft audience. Microsoft could also extend Dungeons to mobile devices very quickly, leveraging Project xCloud APIs to create mobile-friendly touch controls and user interfaces. Four-player co-op, locally or online, with an unlockable endgame with progressively increasing difficulty, Minecraft Dungeons has the very real ability to be your future big-game addiction.

Minecraft Dungeons’ broad potential appeal and ubiquity of the platform could see it build a far larger fanbase than Halo, Gears and Forza, which typically steal the headlines from E3 shows. I advise you to keep an eye on this one. It could end up being bigger than any other game Microsoft has unveiled on stage this year.

Awesome Minecraft merch

We love Minecraft as much as you do. Here are some of our favorite Minecraft accessories.

Minecraft Guide Collection ($25 on Amazon)

Want to learn more about the intricacies of Minecraft? These awesome books make a great gift or learning experience for a younger loved one!

Minecraft Creeper Tee (From $7 on Amazon)

For the creeper in your life!

creeper hat ($14 on Amazon)

The scariest hat of all. Fortunately, it does not explode.

Minecraft Pig Plush ($18 on Amazon)

Ugly creepers? Try this cute plush instead!