Unplayable - Minecraft Dungeons
Whenever a critic comments that a video game is ‘unplayable’, it is often hyperbole, an embellishment to make clear that the game is so poor in either design or controls that it is difficult beyond reason. Superman 64 is often lumped in to this category; but while Superman 64 is mind-numbingly frustrating, you can technically play it and even conquer it. Minecraft Dungeons, on the other hand, was LITERALLY unplayable at launch. For some gamers, it remains so.
I have been eager for this title to debut since it was first announced at MINECON Earth in 2018. I was unable to get onto the list to play the beta, so it faded from my mind for months until the release date was settled on earlier this year. While Mojang is currently also hard at work preparing for the imminent release of the Minecraft 1.16 update, it was reasonable to expect 1.16 update to drop first, with Dungeons coming out a weeks or months later. Yet as of Tuesday, May 26th, Minecraft Dungeons was released for PC, Xbox, PS4, and the Nintendo Switch.
The first issue was that of perception. Contrary to Mojang’s practice of justifiably making big deal out of a new game’s release, Minecraft Dungeons release date came without any fanfare or celebration. I felt as if nobody was talking about it and nobody was hyped about it. The game was touted to be something of a hybrid between an RPG type game with leveling and magic, but with a Minecraft inspired design and a focus on crafting items or weapons. The descriptor for the game on Microsoft’s page was:
“Fight your way through an all-new action-adventure game, inspired by classic dungeon crawlers and set in the Minecraft universe! Up to four friends can play together, or you can brave the dungeons alone.”
The watering-down of enthusiasm may have resulted from a difficult development cycle. On September 17, 2019, Double Eleven announced that they were going to be assisting Mojang Studios and Xbox Game Studios with development, particularly with multiplayer and the console versions. In November of 2019, Minecraft Dungeons was slated for an April 2020 release date, which then on March 31st needed to be pushed out to the end of May due to the outbreak of COVID-19. The closed beta for the game then ran from March 25 to April 24, 2020, for 1000 Windows 10 users.
Where was the community support? Was it watered down and overshadowed in light of current events around the world? Was it broken apart among 4 different platform community which did not offer cross-platform play? Was it due to the game not being 100% built from the ground up only by Mojang staffers, indicating a quality issue? Regardless of the reason, the game launched at a time without the audience support that a Minecraft related property should launch.
The second was an issue of the release. The game debuted early in the morning on May 26th, and as of 05:00 EST, there were already major problems. One of which was with the actual ability to open and play the game.
There were issues with low server strength and servers were outright crashing. By 08:30 EST in the morning, more and more people were starting to be able to get online and get things working, but server strength was still struggling for most of the morning and early afternoon. While this was happening, the ‘Hero Edition’ of the game suddenly disappeared from the PlayStation Store and did not seem to return until the next day. Speaking of the 'Hero Edition', there were also dozens upon dozens of customers who had bought this version of the game with the bonus content, but when the game launched, the 'Hero Edition' content did not install.
As Day 1 of launch continued to progress, there were service outages all day, as some customers could play the game in the morning, but then could not play later that same afternoon. This seemed to be happening across the board and with all editions/platforms.
The horror show does not stop there. Several users reported devastating issues when trying to delete/uninstall the game from their solid state drive. Just as it is common practice for many PC users to restart their computer to flush their RAM, many gamers will attempt to uninstall and reinstall a game to get it to work. Players with a solid state drive who uninstalled the game from their PC using Add Or Remove Program found their entire C: drives wiped. According to Win98Tech on Twitter, the problem rested with the uninstaller targeting the parent directory as opposed to the actual sub-folder. Luckily, Mojang was quick to issue a hotfix and had the bug patched out, so now it is safe to uninstall Minecraft Dungeons without risk. It is unfortunate that so many users suffered full erasure, and it is suspicious that the game got this far with such a glaring bug in the first place.
To be fair, there were a good number of people who were able to successfully get the game and play it long enough to begin posting video reviews. For many, the game ran smooth and was really fun to play. But there were many other players who reported issues with the game malfunctioning in various ways. Some people cited times when music would abruptly end in-game, or that they would have graphical glitches in their HUD. There were game play issues with buggy movement, difficult control mechanisms, and characters getting stuck in environmental errors.
From those who could play the game and who could get it to run well, there were many critiques that the game felt rushed into release. They said it had an unfinished feel, as if you would play for hours on repeat with no new challenges or items. Even Notch, the original creator of Minecraft had a series of tweets that showed his opinions of the game as he played it through a few times.
For me, the entire process was more hassle than it was worth, and it required I learn more about Microsoft than I ever cared to know. There were needless branching paths to find answers as to how to get everything to work right and that was even if you knew what questions to ask. The involvement of Microsoft accounts as opposed to the current Minecraft infrastructure was likely one of the biggest failures of the whole ordeal.
Minecraft comes with a launcher, and it even has a subheading along the left-hand toolbar for Minecraft Dungeons. However, you cannot launch Dungeons directly from this launcher on PC because Minecraft: Java Edition and Minecraft Dungeons use different account systems. Mojang stated on their forum that they weight the options to give their players the right experience and decided that a good temporary option was to have one dedicated launcher per game. If that was the biggest issue, then it would have been an easy fix and only one more icon to fill up your screen. However, Microsoft made it more difficult by making it so that if you purchased the game through them, even for PC on Windows 10, that you would have to download the game from them and launch the game through them directly.
This level of integration may make sense on the surface, but it creates so many hurdles for general users, and what is worse is that it is a clear attempt to push the gamer into purchasing or using other services they did not need. I had to change the entire way I log in to my computer, connect devices, and approve purchases/installs just because of this game. Throughout the whole process, just as many other gamers discovered, the Microsoft store would not recognize my computer as logged in to Microsoft. The prompt says to log in, sends me to a log in screen, then to install the game, when I am told I am not logged in. Rinse and repeat.
I give equal blame to the Mojang team and to the Microsoft team for screwing this up. I find it to be an incredible failure on the part of Mojang not to have put the quality into the follow through as they have in other ventures, pulling the trigger too soon on what is clearly and incomplete product. I also through just as much, if not even more culpability on Microsoft. Their greed and selfishness is apparent when the release went almost flawlessly on the Xbox consoles, but was left to flounder on PC with many of the issues stemming from having to buy the game through Microsoft, still connected to Xbox Live somehow.
After three full days of trying everything I could think of, reading dozens of tweets and FAQs, googling what I should do and what I did wrong, and starting over from scratch... I finally got the game to play. I will review the quality of the game itself in a later entry, but for now, I can say with full honesty and integrity that, at launch, Minecraft Dungeons was disappointingly...
Here a just a few reviews that I found where players gave the game 1 star ratings. Currently, the game sits at 23% with 1 star reviews:
Hero Edition Win 10 Version Unplayable - Unplayable on PC. I bought the Hero Edition and the sound stops working at the main menu. When I start an online or offline game it freezes on the loading screen. Completely unplayable.
Wont start - It wouldnt start so so i uninstalled it and reinstalled it but no matter what i did it would not work.
Save Deleted - played for two hours for save to be deleted plz fix
savage - I bought the hero edition, its not letting me install because I "don't have windows updates enabled" and it directs me to the troubleshooter which says nothing's wrong. I even updated my PC twice with an optional update, but it doesn't download
Can't Install - Bought the game, won't let me install saying my device is not registered with Microsoft. However when I log into Microsoft, my machine shows right up.
Wait until fixed - Game doesn't care if you buy or use the gamepass it will tell you you don't own it. It worked for me after my first try, played like 3 hours but after I reopened the game it was the same problem. Then some time later I tried again and it worked but my character was gone. Also, I bought the hero edition, and the dlc skins were blocked both of the times I could play.
FAIL MOJANG - Was super pumped to play this game after seeing it announced so long ago only to be disappointed with Mojang releasing a broken game. How shameful.....I get that it will be fixed but the fact that windows pc players don't get to play on launch because of a little bug is more than frustrating. Maybe you should pause sales on the game and fix it not keep taking peoples money and just saying "sorry but it'll work eventually"
LOST EVERYTHING - I had an update for my graphics card and after it was done installing I tried to play the game again but when it loaded in it froze on the loading screen so I Alt+F4 and tried again only to find my character was deleted and I had to make a new one also had to play without sound. I wasn't very far in the game I just finished the story once and was lvl 35 but its just annoying
Microsoft Store, Get It Together - Bought the game and had initial problems downloading/installing. Afterwards, tried to launch the game and having problems certifying ownership of the game. Even though I can alt+tab to the page with my purchase order and receipt. What's going on here? Would have had better luck just going to the Mojang site directly...
Waste of money - I can't even download the game! It tells me that I haven't logged into a device that it can install to, which is complete ****! I've logged into my computer multiple times, 3 different Xbox's, and my Phone, but none of them work. I bought the Hero Edition for my PC and it won't install saying that I need to log into my Microsoft account first, which I am logged in; plus, I can't play it on any other device because I would have to re-purchase the game. So not worth it. I want a refund, or for the game actually install now!
Won't install - Can't legit review, game won't even install.
Removed my review still havent fixed major bugs - I don't know if they removed my previous review but the game is still a buggy as hell mess. It's a great game when it works, but that's the problem, it should work basically all the time. Fighting my character to simply move from one spot to another shouldn't be such a difficult task. Especially when in combat, and the dodge roll is so pitiful at times it more often than not gets you killed. So just be careful when you use it since have the time if you so much as try to roll up a snow layer your character just gets stuck in place and doesn't move anywhere. They may have fixed the verification bug I don't but I haven't gotten it again but they still have many more issues with the game.