Like the rest of the (quarantined) world, I've been playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons quite obsessively the past few months. Decorating my island and home with furniture and items, talking to my favorite island residents, digging up fossils, and catching bugs and fish has been quite addicting for me.
Admittedly, that means I've spent over 100 hours in the game. But, it also comes at the neglect of my Xbox and other game consoles. Games I've meant to finish like Tom Clancy's The Division 2 were all put to the side. With the release of Minecraft Dungeons, though, that changed.
My colleague Laurent recently reviewed the game, and with it being part of Xbox Game Pass, I thought I'd give it a try, too. It helped me put down Animal Crossing for a while, and make Minecraft Dungeons my newest gaming addiction.
A satisfying game, just like Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
I'll admit it, I've never been a fan of Minecraft. The game's mechanics were always hard for me to understand. Gathering materials and pushing a combination of buttons to craft was a bit too frustrating for me. I never found myself going too far in the game. Minecraft Dungeons, though, changed that. It's the Minecraft game for the rest of us that is satisfying to play.
Although the genres of the two games I am comparing are completely different, just like Animal Crossing: New Horizons, it doesn't take much understanding to play Minecraft Dungeons. This is what makes it so fun and addicting. You can just pick it up, play, and enjoy yourself.
Indeed, as Laurent said in his review, the game is all about accessibility and simplicity. This is a dungeon crawler without complex RPG mechanics, and there is no class system for your character. Defeating dungeons in the game is as simple as moving the analog stick, pressing the A button to melee, and using arrows and timing your moves to defeat enemies. You'll get different loot from defeating certain enemies, and you'll also get certain artifacts that will help boost your powers. As you level up, meanwhile, you'll unlock better weapons and get enchantment points to power up these weapons to make the game easier to play.
For me, someone who played Animal Crossing: New Horizons for the past few months, that's what is most satisfying about Minecraft Dungeons. As you progress through a dungeon and clear enemies, you get to visually see the progress you make. A bar on the bottom of the screen will even fill up and show you your status to your next level up.
This is all similar to the satisfaction of playing Animal Crossing. In that game, you get to make friendships, add items to your home, and island, with the goal of getting a 5-star island rating and an increasing score from the Happy Home Academy every week.
The second point is that as you level up in Minecraft Dungeons you get better weapons and more enchantments. That's similar to the Nook Miles program in New Horizons where, as you spend more time playing the game, you get Nook Miles to redeem for certain items to decorate your island --- or a pass for Nook Miles adventures for finding fruit, bugs, and more. Both games reward you as you play more.
The idea of the comparison is that Minecraft Dungeons is a game that is easy. Just like Animal Crossing, there's not much to it. Anyone can play it, there's a co-op mode with friends, and you get satisfaction and fun exploring dungeons and leveling up your character without worrying about crafting and the complicated mechanics of the other Minecraft games.
I play it anywhere my laptop goes
One of the biggest selling points of Animal Crossing and the Nintendo Switch is being able to play the game anywhere you go. As a portable console, the Switch is able to go everywhere you do. Well, for me on Xbox and Windows 10, the same applied to Minecraft Dungeons, too.
Being an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscriber ($15 per month,) I have access to the game on both my PC and my Xbox, for no additional cost or extra purchase. At night, I explored the game's mysterious dungeons while sitting in bed and playing on my Xbox One. During the day, and after work, I played the game on my Surface Laptop 3. The game still doesn't support Xbox Cloud Sync, though, which means I had to replay some levels between switching devices, but it's not something that ruined the experience since I've been playing the game slowly and haven't gotten too far.
It's this level of accessibility that made Minecraft Dungeons quite great for me, and fun to play. I didn't have to sit in front of a TV to enjoy the game. Plus, the game isn't that graphically demanding and runs great on a Surface Laptop 3 --- getting about 20-30 frames when the settings are turned down, and a playable 15-20 when setting to high settings. It's plenty playable, even without a dedicated graphics card.
The game that keeps on giving
Animal Crossing doesn't really have a story mode, and it's rather about replaying the game consistently and repeating the same tasks each day to get satisfaction and reward of building up your island to a 5-star rating. This gives it big replay value, and oddly enough, this is another area where Minecraft Dungeons gets me.
Although Minecraft Dungeons does have an underlying story of putting an end to the Arch-Illager’s reign of terror, there's a lot of replay value to the game, too. You can replay certain missions at higher levels and get better weapons and loot. I found myself trying the higher levels just to challenge myself and to get some higher weapons. I also went looking for hidden entrances to secret dungeons, where you can find the best loot.
Though I slowly played the game, I am close to finishing the main story in less than seven hours of playing. It's a far cry from the hundreds of hours I've put into Animal Crossing, but I do find myself trying to beat all the difficulty levels in Dungeons before trying new levels. There's still a lot of replay value and it's the game that keeps giving.
More DLC on the way, and I am glad
As you probably heard, there's more DLC on the way for Minecraft Dungeons, soon. This adds additional replay time and new levels to the game, and I am glad. These will be included at no additional cost with the $30 Hero Edition of Minecraft: Dungeons, too.
It's a bit like how Nintendo treats Animal Crossing: New Horizons, this means they'll always be something to do in the game. For no extra cost outside the $60 of the game, Nintendo is adding seasonal events to Animal Crossing each month. So far, this includes the Bunny Day event, International Museum Day stamp hunt, and Wedding Season. Each of these events offers new items and new gameplay opportunities, just like the DLCs in Minecraft offer new worlds to play.
Looking at everything all together, Minecraft Dungeons is quite enjoyable. It's really fun to pick up and play, and it will likely become your next addiction. With $15 per month GamePass or the game's low price of $20, there's also the added bonus of being able to play it on most modern PCs --- without having to go out and buy a console, like the Nintendo Switch.