Minecraft Dungeons is becoming a bit of a sleeper hit, thanks to its infectious combat and robust post-launch support. I played the game quite a bit at launch, but like many I found the endgame systems to be a bit thin in the field. There wasn’t much to do in the base Minecraft dungeons other than reroll existing missions for slightly more powerful versions of the gear you already had. Thankfully, developers Double Eleven and Mojang have changed the formula a bit with the game’s latest update, Minecraft Dungeons: Flames of the Nether. All of this accumulated gear can now be used as currency to open portals to a wide array of procedurally generated realms, containing all sorts of new stuff.
Here’s why I fell in love with Minecraft Dungeons all over again on Xbox Game Pass, and why you should also consider trying it out.
Ancient hunts raise the stakes
Perhaps the biggest change Minecraft Dungeons has received since launch is the new Ancient Hunts system, which adds another dimension to the endgame experience. On top of that, Minecraft Dungeons has also added 25 additional Minecraft Dungeons “Apocalypse Plus” difficulty levels, which come with increased dangers and increased rewards. Naturally, you can also run these Ancient Hunts on Apocalypse difficulty levels. Still, do it at your own risk – Ancient Hunts raises the stakes in tangible ways.
Ancient Hunts takes the player through the Nether Portals of the Minecraft base game, powered by all the accumulated gear players have stored in their inventories since the game launched in 2020. By submitting enchanted gear to the portal, as well as personal enchantment points gained by leveling up, you can activate various random experiences. These areas may be warped versions of existing biomes, but there are also a few areas unique to Ancient Hunts, including an abandoned prison and a haunted mansion. Although in reality, ancient hunts are only about the gear.
Ancient hunting areas are filled with hidden areas all over the map that seem to generate based on the items you submit to the portal. These areas can contain chests filled with gold bars, which can be spent at a Piglin vendor outside the portal or boss rooms. Bosses are variants of existing monsters with random dangerous affixes.
We’re still exploring all the different possibilities that can come from a hunt, but it’s not uncommon to get some totally devastating combinations. A hunt I did recently pitted me against three Enchanted Geomancers with eighteen supporting Iceologer Frost Wizards with boosted defenses, arrow immunity, and damage reflection. Needless to say, the challenge was quite palpable. But so were the rewards.
Rewards from Ancient Hunts represent the most powerful gear in the game. They are drawn from the existing pool of Minecraft Dungeons armor and Minecraft Dungeons weapons, but with an additional free “Guilded” enchantment, bringing the number of enchantments to four.
For those struggling with Apocalypse in their teens and up, perfecting builds with these additional enchantments presents an additional layer of risk and reward,
A balloon spread of biomes
Another aspect of Minecraft Dungeons that makes returning refreshing is the depth and variety that has been injected into the game.
The first two DLCs were Jungle Awakens and Creeping Winter, which added a bunch of extra levels, items, and artifact mechanics to the game. Since then we’ve also had the Howling Peaks DLC and the new Nether DLC, which offers even more variety.
Howling Peaks takes place in a mountainous biome, with some light wind-based puzzles and infuriating wind-based traps that blow you off cliffs to your doom. Still, this area contains some of the most enchanting music in all of gaming, equal parts haunting and majestic (and sounds all the more awe-inspiring based on one of our picks for the best Xbox One headset, just to say). .
The Nether represents some of the most creative design work in the game so far, showcasing the new Nether biomes introduced in Minecraft’s own big Nether update from 2020. These areas are crawling with aggressive Piglin that don’t want nothing more than to murder you in a violent way. . Luckily, they drop tons of pork chops to keep your health topped up, at least.
Some of the new equipment in these areas also offers some intriguing building possibilities. With buffs to Souls-oriented artifact magic gameplay, companion pet summons, and a host of new mechanics, the creative possibilities for unique builds are pretty endless. As long as you have enough enchantment points for them, ie. I’m currently working on a build that only has tons of bees in it. While wearing the bee armor, Summoning bees summons additional bees for a swarm of deadly, angry, stinging bees.
An intriguing future
The Minecraft Dungeons season pass art seems to hint at future DLC for the franchise’s underwater biomes and The End dimension, which will more than likely include the legendary Ender Dragon boss fight. From there, it’s interesting to wonder where the game might go. Certainly things like cross-save progression between the game’s different platforms would be a welcome addition, as well as any additional systems to make the endgame feel refreshed and dynamic. This ultimately begs the question of whether or not Microsoft wants to continue Minecraft Dungeons well into the future as a “platform”, or move on to a bigger, bolder sequel instead, similar to how Blizzard handles the transition from Diablo III to Diablo IV. Only time will tell.
While waiting to find out what the future brings to Minecraft Dungeons, I find myself addicted to climbing the ranks of Apocalypse, perfecting my builds, and discovering what vile enemy combinations the game’s sneaky random number generator can throw at me. Minecraft Dungeons has been a great companion for quick 20 minute bursts or long sessions of satisfying and rewarding – the very heart of what video game Means to me. And I’m incredibly grateful. Cheers, Mojang, Double Eleven. 🍻
Minecraft Dungeons is a Diablo-like game set in the blocky world of Minecraft. Join up to four friends and slay hordes of enemies for juicy loot in this continuous experience that just keeps on giving.
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