In spite of becoming one of the best-selling video games in history, Minecraft hasn’t quite exploded with spinoffs just yet. Mojang has seemingly taken a fairly measured approach to developing side games, perhaps to make sure that Minecraft itself doesn’t suffer. Still, that doesn’t mean Mojang isn’t willing to experiment with the IP. Just this summer, it announced Minecraft Legends, a new action-strategy game that pits players against a piglin onslaught from the Nether. Action-strategy is an unorthodox genre for Minecraft to take on, but then again, Minecraft Dungeons has already proven that the franchise can go in all sorts of directions.
Minecraft Legends sounds like a compelling addition to the Minecraft family with its high-stakes concept and unique alliance of Overworld mobs. However, in order to deliver, Mojang and its collaborator Blackbird Interactive need to focus on Minecraft Legends‘ story as best they can. While the original sandbox game isn’t exactly designed for rich narratives, Minecraft Legends dives into a totally different genre, and it should therefore have its own approach to storytelling. Minecraft Legends‘ plot doesn’t have to be gritty or gloomy to stand out, but regardless of the tone, this new spinoff needs to have a story worth hearing.
Legends and Dungeons Should Stand Apart
Minecraft Dungeons is actually a big reason that Legends should try to tell a strong story. While the simplicity of Minecraft Dungeons‘ gameplay made it approachable, the game was frequently criticized for its story, which could be completed in about five hours, meaning there wasn’t much depth to it. This could be chalked up to Mojang’s limited storytelling experience and a desire to make a game as inviting as the original Minecraft, the unfortunate truth is that Dungeons was a pretty shallow game in the story department, regardless of Mojang and Double Eleven’s intentions.
Minecraft Legends could learn from that lesson by putting more resources into its story. Mojang and Blackbird Interactive need to give players a reason to care about rallying the disparate mobs of the Overworld, rather than just tossing Nether monsters at the player until the credits roll. If Minecraft spinoffs are to stand out from each other, and especially from the original game, then they need to follow the model of Telltale Games’ Minecraft: Story Mode by intentionally trying to create layered lore and compelling characters. Real stories that take time to explore and complete will make spinoffs like Minecraft Legends feel much more worthwhile.
Minecraft Legends’ Possible Storytelling
Even though the Minecraft franchise isn’t designed for plot, it’s full of elements that can inspire exciting stories. For instance, the Nether is a major focus of Minecraft Legends, so ideally the game will go out of its way to discuss the backstories of piglins, ghasts, and possibly even wither skeletons. The same goes for the Overworld. The divide between pillagers and villagers could be explored in great detail in Minecraft Legends if players have to work together with pillagers to defend their mutual reality from the piglin forces. Even if Legends‘ story isn’t strictly canon to the original Minecraft, it could provide some fun possible backstories.
While Minecraft Legends should introduce these kinds of storytelling elements, it can still have a cheery, whimsical tone derived from Minecraft. LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga and its fellow Traveller’s Tales games have proven that games can tell entertaining stories with a sense of humor, and that seems perfect for Minecraft Legends. There should be room for more serious moments and real world-building, but Minecraft Legends can balance that out with jokes and charming characters that keep the experience light but engaging.
The entire concept of Minecraft Legends is that the game is an ancient story passed down through the Minecraft world across untold generations. If the game’s actual story lacks substance, then this interesting framing will feel wasted. Telling an epic but lighthearted tale seems within Mojang’s ability to accomplish, especially with Blackbird’s help, so hopefully these collaborators learn from Minecraft Dungeons‘ storytelling shortcomings and ensure that Minecraft Legends lives up to its name.
Minecraft Legends releases in early 2023 for PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
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