Minecraft Legends is a strategy spinoff of Minecraft — but it might also be the next competitive multiplayer craze. I had a chance to spend a few hours with the game last month at GDC in San Francisco, and while it seems like it has a solid campaign to dig into, I had a lot more fun with the team-based multiplayer. It’s kind of like Minecraft mashed with League of Legends and StarCraft, and in the one match I played, it involved a lot of yelling (in a good way).
Legends is built on the same “bedrock” engine as the main Minecraft game, and the two look pretty much identical. You control a blocky little character running through a similarly blocky world. The difference here is what you’re doing. To get acclimated, I first played around two hours of the campaign. Here, you’re basically exploring a big procedurally generated map filled with enemy camps to destroy and cities under siege that need liberating.
The core of the Minecraft experience — the mining and the crafting — is front and center here. You don’t actually do much of the fighting yourself but, instead, summon little golems (of which there are many types with different skill sets; some are better at fighting enemies, others are good at destroying structures) and command them in battle. In order to get the golems, you first have to build spawn locations. As you explore, you’ll also need to build things like bridges and ramps to get your minions where you want them. In order to build, you’ll — of course — need to mine for resources like wood and stone. As you unlock new structures and minion types, you’ll need different, harder-to-find resources.
The campaign was fine, but it also felt more like a tutorial for the player-vs-player mode, helping me get acclimated to the way the world works and the somewhat fiddly controls. The PvP pits two teams of four against each other, with the goal of destroying the other team’s base. The map is fairly large (and procedurally generated) and filled with things to discover to better your chances, like unique mounts or useful resources. There are also camps full of computer-controlled minions that you can destroy for bonuses.
There are no classes in Minecraft Legends, but even still, my group quickly settled on roles for everyone. One player was dedicated to building a protective maze around our base, two players gathered resources and destroyed basecamps, and I poked and prodded at our opponent’s base in search of the right time to strike. Communication was paramount — I’m not sure if you could play this game with voice chat off. The base builder was constantly calling out when we were under attack so everyone could rush back on defense while also letting us know what particular resources they needed in the moment. When I spotted a rare redstone deposit, I made sure to let everyone know.
The ebb and flow of the match reminded me a lot of games like League of Legends. During the first phase, we were mostly planning and preparing. Once the roles were settled on, everyone went about their duties, occasionally taking a break to clear out a piglin camp. As we slowly moved further from our home base, light skirmishes with the other team started, and eventually, both sides would risk small base attacks. After about 30 minutes or so, it was all-out warfare. (Unfortunately, all of that planning did my team little good: the other side managed to build a powerful cannon that devastated our base.)
Obviously, it’s impossible to predict which multiplayer games will take off. But the fact that Legends is widely accessible (it’ll be available on PC, PlayStation, Xbox, and the Switch), based on a hugely popular and familiar game, and seems to offer a lot of freedom for different strategies means it might have a better chance than most. You can check it out when it launches on April 18th.