OpinionVideo Games

Minecraft Legends Betrays Player Creativity in Offering Only One Weapon

Compared to the real deal, Minecraft Legends feels weirdly limiting to player creativity by offering just one weapon to use: Mojang Studios should add more options.

I spent my first night in Minecraft under six feet of dirt. Placing blocks around you was the easiest way to protect yourself from the game’s zombies and explosive creepers. The next day, I set out to build a weapon. Over the course of my time across its procedurally generated worlds, I’ve built everything from Netherite axes and crossbows to tridents that return to you like a boomerang.

It’s a delight to see foes that once sent you scurrying turn into targets. Mods with blocky assault rifles and lightsabers added even more nuance to a game that gives you an incredible degree of freedom. So when Minecraft Legends, its strategy spinoff, gave me a single weapon, I was understandably miffed.

The troops under you are in the same predicament. No spicy bonuses, no fancy abilities under your control. While I didn’t expect unique weapons with the granular control of games like Dawn of War, upgrades to work towards are a reasonable expectation from a strategy game. As a hero leading an assortment of golems and once-neutral allies, your sole weapon is a diamond sword with a three-move combo that turns stale in minutes. While it can knock back enemy piglet forces, the lack of weapon variety from a franchise known for nearly endless choices is disappointing.

You don’t get armor upgrades either, despite Minecraft Legends’ marketing calling it an “action-strategy” game. Save for a handful of hero models, you don’t get to customize your blocky protagonist. Your hero is supposed to take the backseat as your army does the work.

Compared to the real deal, Minecraft Legends feels weirdly limiting to player creativity by offering just one weapon to use: Mojang Studios should add more options.

But with iffy pathfinding and the odd desire to jump into lava, your golems aren’t quite the legends of this tale. And even with troops built for specific roles, they weren’t consistent in following orders. The game wants you to focus on controlling your troops, delegating you to a support role. If I was going to be reduced to a cursor, this could have been a very different game.

I understand that Minecraft Legends wants to lower the barrier that keeps newcomers from dabbling in strategy games, and it makes many smart decisions towards making the genre accessible. Minecraft Legends automates resource collection with nifty gatherers that can be summoned instantly. The simple “move here” and “attack everything in front of you” commands work in a pinch, keeping the micromanagement to a minimum for new players. The game’s counter system also teaches players to tailor their units to the enemies they face.

But depth does not always have to come at the cost of complexity. It’s a shame that you can’t get crafty with exotic resources. Its predecessor’s weapons would have given you plenty of options to make battles interesting. While using a hefty axe or a trident that returns to you could breathe life into melee encounters, think of what explosives could accomplish. Reshaping the battlefield to grant units cover or destroying bridges and structures would liven up Minecraft Legends’ straightforward tussles.

Compared to the real deal, Minecraft Legends feels weirdly limiting to player creativity by offering just one weapon to use: Mojang Studios should add more options.

True, survival and facing hordes of piglets as a lone wolf isn’t what Minecraft Legends is about. And the game does let you train a larger and better army with time. Over the course of the game, you unlock new golems by story progression or stumbling over pieces of massive ancient golems that need assembly. These mythical units pack a punch and add some much-needed variety to your unit composition. I was hoping to discover rare weapons this way as well. Crafting them with rare materials would have been a glorious walk through the franchise’s past.

Minecraft Legends sits in a difficult position because of the expectations it set and didn’t set. While the game certainly gets some things right, its lack of weaponry is all the more apparent when compared to the limitless creativity enabled by its survival-focused predecessor. I hope the Mojang devs work towards expanding the game’s combat options. Extra weapons with special effects could bolster the game’s free monthly challenges that round out its post-launch content. New ways to interact with its challenges could draw in even more players towards a genre that rewards patience with some of gaming’s most fulfilling moments.

About the author

Antony Terence
Once an engineer responsible for steel plant equipment, Antony now writes on everything from games and consumer tech to fiction. From watching his dad set up a PC to actively following gaming right from school, it’s no surprise that Antony wanted to write about games. He’s had three fulfilling years as a freelance journalist to preach about humanity’s greatest artform: videogames. Antony has worked on everything from news and deep dives to opinions, reviews and retrospectives for IGN, Techradar, Rock Paper Shotgun, GamesIndustrybiz, and more. He’s drawn to stories, meaning that anime, fantasy novels and games across genres count among his pastimes. While Antony is particularly fond of citybuilders and strategy titles, he won’t turn down a chance to play a JRPG or a turn-based roguelike. As long as it has a story, it’s fair game. When he isn't rediscovering his love for retro strategy titles, you'll find Antony at tech stores or board game cafes.