I am already done with Minecraft Dungeons - a mini review

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KCDinc

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I feel like the most common complaint about Minecraft Dungeons you will hear in forthcoming reviews will be about its length. Indeed the game is quite short and you can get credits within just a few hours of starting. But if I were writing a review headline it would be:

Minecraft Dungeons does not have a length problem, it has a power curve problem

Simply put, Dungeons just falls apart as soon as you get to the “post game”. Like almost all games of this type, you are not expected to simply stop playing after beating the final boss, but to jump right back in at higher difficulties and get cooler and better gear.

Let me give you a couple examples.

In a game like Diablo, you might play your typical barbarian character as a straight forward walk up and bash people type, going heavy into pure damage and durability. But suddenly you drop an item that lets you use the leap ability multiple times before it goes on cooldown. That might cause you to completely change how you build your character, perhaps becoming focused more on speed and maneuverability to survive.

In a game like Destiny, you might like to roll around with a good mid range rifle and rely heavily on it. But again you suddenly drop an amazingly powerful shotgun and everything is different. You are running in head first to get as close as possible, taking on tough enemies you would have struggled with a couple shots now. Then right as you advance to the point your shotgun is starting to no longer feel all powerful, you drop a shiny new sniper rifle that starts the whole loop over again.

Now pretty much every loot focused game you will eventually hit a point where your character no longer changes wildly based on what gear you find, and no longer sees large jumps in power. This is just a basic function in how there can only be so much content in a game, only so many items that can do only so many things.

You could play a game like Diablo or Destiny for dozens if not hundreds of hours before hitting this point. In Minecraft Dungeons you hit this point like a brick wall as soon as you beat the last boss and get into the “adventure” difficulty.

There are two aspects that contribute to this problem. The first being just a pure numbers issue. Over your first play through of the “story” in Minecraft Dungeons you will be constantly getting better and different gear right until the last level or two. It slows down a bit by then. In other games when you advanced to a new difficulty, that treadmill would be partially reset. On the new higher difficulty you will again be dropping new and much more powerful gear that could lead to serious changes in how you play. This will gradually slow down the further you go until you have a fairly settled set of gear. That is until you reach the new difficulty and get a whole new tier of stuff. Minecraft Dungeons does not reset the treadmill at all on a new difficulty. If anything it becomes exponentially worse. You could be a power level 35 character taking on a power level 38 stage which should be a serious challenge for you and drop not a single good piece of gear by the end.

But that only gets exacerbated by the second problem. Your weapons and armor all have enchantments available to them, and these enchantments are a big role in determining how your character plays. Put points into the right enchantments and you might as well be that Diablo barbarian jumping in and bashing things. While other enchantments might make you an amazing archer or something more similar to a rogue. But you get enchantment points by leveling and those levels start coming in at a crawl in way that makes you feel like a high level MMO character. You might get a cool scythe with all the right enchantments you want but it would take hours of grinding to get enough levels to even make it on par with gear you currently have.

In Minecraft Dungeons you will never get that moment where you drop a piece of gear so powerful that it suddenly changes how you play or make you an unstoppable killing machine until the power curve catches back up to you. It just quickly becomes a very slow grind to make small, incremental increases to your power level.

All these things have made me drop Dungeons and have no desire to go back in. I have hit the point with this game that with other loot based games would take much, much longer to reach. And it has nothing to do with how quickly you reach the final boss and everything to do with the fundamental problems with the games’ power curve.

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Humanity

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Nice write-up!

Personally I just can't believe they made this thing without implementing any of the hooks from the original product. The fact that it doesn't have deformable terrain and you just.. run around and hit stuff.. it seems to be missing the point? Then again kids seem to watch and love Minecraft cartoons and they book Minecraft story novels so maybe this is just one of those things where I'm out of the demographic loop. The only way I ever played and enjoyed Minecraft was via the large community server from the Something Awful forums back in the day where it was people just building whatever they wanted. I especially enjoyed creating giant superstructures. Not having any creative element in a Minecraft game doesn't appeal to me.

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Jesus_Phish

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I played for maybe two or three hours last night and I don't know if I'll go back. Leveling is slow, "abilities" being tied to artifacts and armour and weapons doesn't feel great. I got two swords of equal level. But one has better damage than the other and they both have different enchantments.

The game is really way too easy on the basic difficulty, and I tried to set it as high as I could, I think I was power 2 and it let me try a power 8 or 10 dungeon. That made it so I actually had to pay some attention, but still not a whole lot.

If my siblings asked me if they should get their kid this I'd look into violence options for Diablo and if you can turn off the gore I'd recommend that instead. At least up until reaper if souls which had some pretty strong visuals, most of the design in diablo 3 is light enough.

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ThePanzini

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I'm really shocked how theirs very little Minecraft in it. Destructible environments, building to defend an objective or to reach a higher level and digging to recovers a chest seem like obvious ideas. Theirs a ton of stuff they could have done I don't get why its so light.

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mikewhy

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I'm not surprised at all there's no "minecraft" in it. If all minecraft offshoots need that, what are they making other than "minecraft with better combat and an isometric view"?

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noboners

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Yeah, I am having a similar opinion as Brad had on the Bombcast. I am playing it one level at a time and by the time I finish the one level, I'm good. Like, I am scouring the entire map to try and find every chest which just makes for a lot of backtracking. I know this is a personal issue though and maybe moving forward I will just stick to following the waypoint.

I also feel as though I have seen most of the weapons? Unless a lot of the gear is locked behind adventure mode and whatever is after that...

I'm not surprised that terrain isn't deformable, since that opens such a huge can of worms. But the lack of crafting really surprises me. Like, I guess the idea is that I keep grinding to find the specific armor type I want with the enchantments I want. Unless this does open up eventually (I have only complete 4 or 5 missions), I wish I could break down an item to also take it's enchantment options to put onto another item.

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bigsocrates

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I don't fully agree with the review because you can always scrap old equipment to reclaim the enchantment points on it, so once your equipment all has a bunch of enchantment points on it then when you get a new piece that you'd rather use you are meant to move the old points over, not grind from ground zero. I think this is a frustrating system because it keeps you from maintaining multiple 'specs' of different equipment at the same time until you get super high level, but it's the system they implemented.

In general though...I don't understand how this is the game they made. Not only does it not have any Minecraft hooks except for the aesthetics and I guess 'story,' but it just feels kind of bad to play. Everything works but the combat lacks impact, the special items and enchantments aren't flashy or fun to use, and the combat is just simple and crappy. I'm not the target audience because I'm not a big Minecraft fan and maybe kids will love seeing all their favorite Minecraft monsters and stuff in a different type of game, but it feels like there could be a lot more references even if they weren't going to have lots of crafting, and just generally it feels very light on content and extremely bland. This is one of the biggest franchises in the history of gaming and this is one of the first spinoffs they've done, and it's just so...lightweight.

I don't get it. I guess it's not for me. But I don't think I'll be playing more either.

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csl316

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I feel like a dinosaur, because I'm perfectly happy beating a game like this once or twice and moving on.

I beat Diablo 3 at launch, got 25 hours out of it, and was very pleased with the experience (played Reaper of Souls this year and did the same). Beat Destiny 2 at launch and enjoyed my experience before moving on. Am I doing it wrong? I feel like these games get knocked harder than they need to be because they don't satisfy the most hardcore audience.

It feels like the esports discussion from the recent Bombcast. Smash comes out and a ton of people like it, but the vocal minority gets upset and now the narrative is that the game disappoints.

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Wibblefish

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If you spent full price on this game I can fully understand how you might feel gypped when you're done with it, but I played it as part of my Xbox Game Pass subscription and found it an enjoyable diversion for a few days. This is probably the ideal way to play the game.