When Minecraft Dungeons was unveiled, it featured intense action strikingly similar to Diablo, set in a 3D isometric world in the rapidly growing Minecraft universe. Now that the game is out, it's one of the best co-op games out there, with satisfying combat and a surprisingly deep system of loot and progression hidden below its unassuming surface. The game is also properly beautiful, expanding upon Minecraft's iconic design on top of Unreal Engine.
Even better, the game promises to grow and expand into the future, meaning Minecraft Dungeons may be a mainstay in a lot of living rooms. Here's everything you need to know about the newest entry in Mojang Studios' expanding line-up of games in our ultimate Minecraft Dungeons guide.
Not your average Minecraft
Minecraft explores the dungeons.
Minecraft Dungeons is the next saga in Minecraft's story, and Mojang Studios have knocked another one out of the park. Awesome co-op combat paired with powerful loot, all at a crazy affordable price? There's not much more you could ask for in an epic dungeon crawling ARPG.
What is Minecraft Dungeons?
Put simply, Minecraft Dungeons is an action-RPG (ARPG) with up to four-play co-op. With a little more detail added, Minecraft Dungeons is the latest game from Mojang Studios, developed in tangent with Double Eleven, on top of the Unreal Engine. This game is a big move for Mojang Studios, as it expands the Minecraft franchise into other genres while dropping the creative construction gameplay, and has the potential to go the distance if Mojang Studios puts the necessary time into it.
If you're initially confused by the game, Minecraft Dungeons shares a lot of similarities with an established franchise, Diablo. If you're familiar with that pioneer in the gaming space, you'll feel right at home with Minecraft Dungeons' fresh but obviously inspired gameplay loop, involving players constantly seeking the next strongest piece of loot to power up and face the next strongest bad guy.
What is the plot / story of Minecraft Dungeons?
To be clear, Minecraft Dungeons does have a plot, but it is in no way the focus of the game. Instead, the focus of Minecraft Dungeons is in its gameplay loop, in which players will replay procedurally generated levels to level up, find new gear, discover secrets, and unlock higher difficulty tiers to do it all again. Through its levels, there is a thread of a story that gives you a "why" for your actions, and while simple, the plot is pretty solid in its writing.
The main antagonist of the game is the Arch-Illager, an ex-villager that was shunned by his kind until he was forced to abandon his home and depart from the villages. In his travels, he stumbles onto the Orb of Dominance (which is a cube, by the way), that grants him unbelievable power, but at what cost? Using his powers, he begins to ransack villages and kidnap innocent villagers to use them for labor.
It's up to you, the hero, to systematically dismantle the Arch-Illager's operations in your quest to eventually face him in combat and defeat him. Each level has a specific objective to accomplish because of this, and it does all tie together with nicely done cinematic cutscenes before each mission. After the first playthrough, you'll probably end up ignoring the story altogether and skipping these cutscenes, but it's a rather nice, straightforward story the first time around.
Can I play with my friends in Minecraft Dungeons?
While there's definitely single-player play in Minecraft Dungeons, and an offline mode for when you want to play by yourself or don't have an internet connection, the gameplay is definitely tailored for co-op play. Loot drops are better, the difficulty is higher and more challenging, and the game as a whole becomes more exciting and chaotic. So yes, you can play with friends, and that's encouraged if you want the best version of Minecraft Dungeons.
Unfortunately, right now, there's no cross-play between platforms in Minecraft Dungeons, so you're restricted to friends who play on the same platform as you. Mojang Studios has committed to adding cross-play in a future update that shouldn't be too far out, but keep that in mind if you're planning on jumping into the game immediately with friends or family who play on a different platform than you.
How do classes and progression work in Minecraft Dungeons?
Minecraft Dungeons forgoes the traditional class-based systems of its predecessors in place of a gear-based system instead. This means the abilities and playstyle of your character depends entirely on the weapons and other equipment that you use. A few changes to your loadout can turn you from a melee-focused berserker with absurd damage output, then to a quick and agile ranged archer with explosive tracking arrows, and everything in between.
In all, there are five "categories" to look at when customizing your playstyle:
- Melee. This is your melee weapon, of which there are many, many kinds, from swords to axes to glaives to even just gauntlets. Each weapon has its strengths and weaknesses.
- Ranged. Your ranged weapon are things like bows and crossbows, and once again, there are many different kinds. Some bows will fire multiple projectiles, or explode on impact, or even track targets down to some extent.
- Armor. Your armor is how you upgrade your health and defense, so it's essential. Just like with your weapons, there are a ton of varieties with varying abilities and perks.
- Artifacts. Artifacts are powerful items that grant their user one powerful ability, that ranges from things like dealing massive amounts of damage to a group of enemies, to healing allies, to even summoning companions that fight alongside you. Every player gets three artifact slots.
- Enchantments. Finally, you have enchantments. These aren't gear, but rather extra upgrades you can give to your weapons and armor. A piece of gear can have up to three enchantments, which are randomly pulled from a pool of possible enchantments. These enchantments can turn the tide of battle and exponentially increase your strength.
There is a leveling system in place in Minecraft Dungeons, but leveling up doesn't increase your stats or grant perks to your character. Instead, you get enchantment points that you can use to buy enchantments for your gear. You also gain access to higher-level loot from missions as you level up, so your power stays even with your experience. In this way, you can invest in your gear and still remain flexible in how you can play from mission to mission, instead of being locked in with one-time character upgrades.
How does loot work in Minecraft Dungeons?
Every area in the game has a pool of loot it can pull from to reward players. Defeating mobs and bosses, discovering secrets, or opening chests all have chances of dropping loot in the form of gear, artifacts, or consumables. If you're lucky, you'll even find super rare and powerful Unique gear, which are special variants of normal gear with added abilities and power. In this way, you can replay certain levels to try and find the gear you want, or find a better version of the gear you already have.
Every player gets their own loot as well, so co-op players don't have to worry about their teammates snatching their gear. Whenever a chest is opened, every player in the party gets something from it, no matter where they are in the level! Mojang Studios put a lot of thought into how to make Dungeons an actual co-op experience, and avoid frustration between party members.
Finding better loot is the only way to power up in Minecraft Dungeons, so be sure to explore every nook and cranny in the game for hidden chests and even full secret levels that you can't access without finding first!
What mobs and enemies are in Minecraft Dungeons?
If you were expecting Minecraft Dungeons to simply feature all the familiar faces from vanilla Minecraft, you'd only be partially correct. While a lot of classic mobs like the creeper, zombie, skeleton, and endermen are present in Minecraft Dungeons, the game expands on Minecraft's colorful cast of characters by adding a bunch of new mobs, including variants for existing mobs.
Of course, the largest group are hostile mobs, which include new entries like wraiths, necromancers, and corrupted slime. Trust me; there's a lot to discover and learn how to fight. Neutral mobs are things like villagers, livestock, and companions (powerful friends you can summon with artifacts). Finally, you have bosses, which are super powerful mobs that get full-blown health bars and their own unique strategies and attacks.
The list of mobs in Minecraft Dungeons is far too long to include here and is only growing over time.
Is there an endgame in Minecraft Dungeons?
As you progress through Minecraft Dungeons and power-up, new procedurally-generated areas will become available, with a selection of new mobs to fight, loot to collect, and missions to complete. Once you finish the main story, however, is when you unlock difficulty tiers. At the moment, there are three difficulty tiers ranging from Normal to Adventure, and finally ending on Apocalypse. Each difficulty tier is one solid step above the last one and unlocks whole new pools of powerful gear you can find, and at higher levels too.
This is the endgame in Minecraft Dungeons currently, basically entailing replaying existing levels until you find the best possible versions of your gear at the highest difficulty tiers. Mojang Studios has said they're working on making the endgame even better in Minecraft Dungeons in the future, with further expansions and DLC packs that will add to the game.
Will there be future expansions and DLC for Minecraft Dungeons?
Regarding just the base game, Minecraft Dungeons is unfortunately short on content. There are limited levels to replay, and despite a decent selection of loot and a veritable army of hostile mobs to fight, players can't expect endless replayability from Minecraft Dungeons. That being said, Mojang Studios has committed to continuously adding content to Minecraft Dungeons through free updates, expansions, and paid DLC. The first one of these is already out, with the second one out in September.
Beyond the first two confirmed DLC packs, Mojang Studios has laid out plans to add further endgame content, including alluding to content involving the End and the Nether. Since there's a partially built Nether Portal present in the camp, it's clear that these plans have been in place for quite a long time. We got an interview that goes over some of the plans for Minecraft Dungeons in more depth, and there's some good stuff in there.
To sum it up, Mojang Studios intends to keep Minecraft Dungeons fresh with a combination of free updates that all players get access to, and larger expansions or DLC packs that are paid for. This helps Mojang Studios fund future content for the game without resorting to gross microtransactions, but it means that players with the base game still get new updates in the future.
Jungle Awakens is the first major DLC for Minecraft Dungeons, and it came out July 1, 2020. This expansion adds three new areas to explore, new mobs, gear, and artifacts, and even has a new boss to conquer. It continues the story from the moment the main game left off, meaning Minecraft Dungeons will have an arching story through its expansion packs. The first DLC for Minecraft Dungeons definitely showcases the potential that the game has for the future.
Environments are incredibly detailed and well-done (even more so than the main game), and the new additions are welcomed for returning players. Hopefully, Mojang Studios can keep the ball rolling with future expansions and update because Jungle Awakens is a great (but short) start.
Alongside Jungle Awakens was a free update that made lots of balancing changes to Minecraft Dungeons, as well as added a new hidden level, Lower Temple. That means even players who don't purchase the DLC still get something out of the release. The changelog for the Jungle Awakens DLC is quite extensive, showing all the alterations Mojang Studios made with their first expansion pack.
The Jungle Awakens DLC is included in Minecraft Dungeons: Hero Edition ($30 at Microsoft), or you can buy the Hero Pass ($10 at Microsoft) for the base game, which includes Jungle Awakens and one other DLC pack, or just purchase the Jungle Awakens DLC ($6 at Microsoft) by itself.
The second DLC that will come to Minecraft Dungeons is Creeping Winter. We now have an exact release date, with Creeping Winter coming out on September 8, alongside a free update, about two months after Jungle Awakens. This DLC should add a whole new area with new levels, gear, and mobs to boot, as well as featuring more endgame changes, and new vendors for the camp. There's still a lot to learn about Creeping Winter, but if Jungle Awakens is any indication, it should be a good one.
We'll have to wait a little longer to find more information on Creeping Winter, but I'm personally more excited by this DLC than even Jungle Awakens. I love the promised icy environment, and Creeping Winter should feature more meaningful changes to the game's endgame, where Jungle Awakens just focused on injecting new content and making some balancing changes to existing gear.
Creeping Winter will launch alongside a free update, just like Jungle Awakens. Mojang Studios has said they expect to do both moving forward, so that the base game continuously gets better over time, while those who purchase the DLC get more content to enjoy. Whether or not the free update will also include another free level, as with Jungle Awakens, we'll have to wait and see, but the free update should at least feature all the balancing changes to the game, and possibly any changes made to the camp.
The Creeping Winter DLC will be included in Minecraft Dungeons: Hero Edition ($30 at Microsoft), or you can buy the Hero Pass ($10 at Microsoft), which includes the Jungle Awakens and Creeping Winter DLC packs. Creeping Winter will probably be available to purchase on its own when it releases.
What is the pricing and availability of Minecraft Dungeons?
Minecraft Dungeons, despite being a first-party title from Microsoft, is available on all of your favorite platforms. This means Windows, Xbox One, Playstation 4, and Nintendo Switch. As of now, cross-play and cross-save aren't available, but Mojang Studios says that at least cross-play should be coming to their game in a future update. Still, it's commendable that Microsoft is always willing to put their games on other platforms if it fits the game.
Just like Minecraft, Mojang Studios' latest game is a surprisingly fantastic value. Even taking into consideration its slightly low amount of content in the base game as of now, Minecraft Dungeons is a solid purchase for any ARPG fan. That's because the base game is a third of the cost of other modern games, and even throwing in the first two DLC packs with the Hero Edition doesn't get you close to what most people pay for their games. Here's the breakdown:
Minecraft Dungeons ($20 at Microsoft) is the base game, and includes Minecraft Dungeons as well as any free updates going forward. Minecraft Dungeons: Hero Edition ($30 at Microsoft) includes the base game, the Jungle Awakens and future Creeping Winter DLC, any free updates the base game gets, and some cool cosmetic items for your character. The base game is also included in Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate ($45 at Amazon).
If you purchased the base game, or play through Xbox Game Pass, you can also purchase the Hero Pass ($10 at Microsoft), which adds all the Hero Edition content to the base game. When individual DLC packs come out, you should also be able to purchase them seperately, like Jungle Awakens ($6 at Microsoft).
Finally, something new that's coming with Creeping Winter is the release of physical edition of Minecraft Dungeons! The physical release is for the Hero Edition, so it includes all the additional content you'll need, and will be available for Xbox, PS4, and Nintendo Switch. The official release date is September 8, at the same time as Creeping Winter, but you can start pre-order right away. The prices are as follows: Minecraft Dungeons for Xbox ($30 at Best Buy), Minecraft Dungeons for PS4 ($30 at Best Buy), and Minecraft Dungeons for Switch ($30 at Best Buy).
Minecraft Dungeons is awesome!
We'll be the first to tell you: we think Minecraft Dungeons is awesome! It's not perfect, but this game is an endless amount of fun when played with friends, and only promises to get better as time goes on. If you're a fan of Minecraft or a fan of ARPG's like Diablo, it's definitely worth giving this game a try. It's an excellent way for Mojang Studios to expand their powerful Minecraft brand, and Dungeons is a fantastic blend of genres and games that we always love to see. Even if you're playing on your own, there's still a lot to get out of Minecraft Dungeons.
What do you think about Minecraft Dungeons? Is there anything about the game you want to know? Let us know in the comments below!
Not your average Minecraft
Minecraft explores the dungeons.
Minecraft Dungeons is the next saga in Minecraft's story, and Mojang Studios have knocked another one out of the park. Excellent co-op combat paired with powerful loot, all at a crazy affordable price? There's not much more you could ask for in an epic dungeon crawling ARPG.
Zachary Boddy is the Minecraft Expert and a News Writer for Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life, and have been freelancing for Windows Central and its sister sites since 2019, with a focus on Xbox and PC gaming. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.
Can you play single player only or is it co-op or nothing?
You can play single player too and offline if you prefer.
Playing offline with my kids all the time. Love this game. Thank you for the ultimate guide!
I only play Single Player and it gets quite challenging. I suspect it will be easier to play with coop.
It is too early to pass judgement yet but it's a bit of letdown in the early going. It's just about unprecedented not to have a mage playstyle as on option in an ARGP set in a fantasy realm, and for good reason. I always play as a mage and the few times I've tried melee or range I usually don't get very far. I know Jez says you can enchant equipment to have spells but there should be a spell system in place and wands as choice of weapon. It's odd they chose to disappoint about 1/3 of the playing pool right off the top. I wasn't playing long before I felt to urge to get out and go play Slay the Spire.
I had a lot of anticipation for this game for this game but it's a big disappointment. There is a lot they got right and I hope they make some changes to make the game for fun but I don't find it fun as is. I've never seen a game where you had to spend so much time waiting for the health cool down. This may be the first IRPG (Inaction RPG). I suck as a melee player so I'm sure that doesn't help. Range is no good because you will run out of arrows at worst times then you have to fight as melee when you don't want to and on inadequate gear because you buffed your bow. I'm not going to play it anymore now but I'll keep eye on it in case they're changes to my liking.
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