Minecraft Dungeons has been out for a few weeks now and I’ve been having a huge amount of fun with it. It combines a bunch of things that are great about the action RPG genre – the loot, the satisfying moment to moment combat and the consistent escalation of power, and runs them through a charming Minecraft filter.
Importantly, while the gameplay is certainly accessible, Minecraft Dungeons still has many layers and many surprising interactions to discover. I’ve sunk a bunch of hours into it at this point and I’m having more fun than ever. I’ve learnt a lot too, so below you’ll find 15 tips and strategies to help you improve.
One note before we go any further: if you’re just getting started, check out IGN's 21 essential tips and tricks for beginners first, as this feature is for players who have got the basics down and are more intermediate. Also be sure to visit IGN's Minecraft Dungeons wiki for full lists of weapons, armour, enchantments, artifacts, mobs and more.
1) Don’t Get Hung Up on a Piece of Gear
Your capabilities in Minecraft Dungeons are entirely determined by your melee weapon, bow, armour and artifacts. As opposed to growing in power each time you level up, you instead earn an enchantment point, which can be spent to augment your gear. The stronger your load-out, the more you can crank the difficulty… which then lets you find better loot.
While it can be tempting to stick with a weapon that’s working, it will eventually be outclassed, so when you have other options with higher power ratings (the number next to each piece of gear and artifact), you should think about swapping it out. A good time to consider this is when you have spare enchantment points. That way you can put points into and test an alternate piece of gear without having to salvage your existing item first. There’s nothing worse than salvaging a weapon you’re having fun with in favour of something that’s technically stronger, only for you to hate how it plays.
That said, there’ll come a time when that incredible unique weapon that’s served you so well will be holding you back, preventing you from bumping the difficulty up, and at that point you can’t be sentimental – salvage it. Those enchantment points are better used elsewhere, and running missions on a higher difficulty level will help you get better loot. You don’t want to be perpetually behind for the sake of a favourite weapon.
2) Try Out a Variety of Enchantments
Your choice of enchantments on an item are precious, as there’s no way to undo them once they’re locked in. That means, for instance, that if you’re enchanting a unique item you’ll definitely want to think carefully about how the choices you make will suit your approach.
That said, the only way to really know which enchantments will work best for you is by trying as many of them as possible, so experiment! There are plenty of enchantments that don’t really click until you’ve tested them, and you can always try them on inferior gear before committing to the best items in your inventory.
Every Enchantment in Minecraft Dungeons
An enchantment like Cool Down, for instance, which reduces the cool-down time for your artifacts, may seem kind of boringly utilitarian on the surface, but once you play around with being able to use your artifacts more often, you may find it’s essential.
You can be offered the same enchantment more than once on a single item too, and the ability will stack if you choose to activate it twice. This opens up some pretty fun possibilities for abilities like Cool Down.
3) Swap Your Artifacts Around
Artifacts function as your spells in Minecraft Dungeons, and unlike enchantments, they aren’t locked in, so you’re entirely free to swap them around as you go. Do this! Try each new artifact as you come across it. I initially fell into a comfortable pattern of using only a handful of obviously useful artifacts, but the more I’ve played, the more I’ve learnt how other artifacts come into their own when paired with specific weapons, or to support specific builds.
Each artifact needs to be an an important part of your gameplan, so swap any that aren’t playing a vital role. And if an artifact isn’t going to help against a particular boss, think about which one will, and make the swap before you trigger the battle.
4) Numbers Aren’t Everything
Every piece of gear you pick up in Minecraft Dungeons has a number, indicating its power. An axe with 35 strength will obviously do more damage than one with 30. That, however, is only one thing to consider. If the 30 power axe has enchantments you like and allows you to activate more enchantments than the other option, which will deliver more base damage, it’s almost certainly a better choice.
Unique gear also merits special consideration, as these items already have innate properties that make them superior to regular weapons, bows and armour. If you pick up a Venom Glaive that has slightly lower base power than your current melee weapon, for instance, you need to take into account the fact that it can spawn poison clouds, so effectively already has an innate enchantment.
The final thing to consider is your build or play style. You may be looking for specific enchantments to complete a particular approach to combat, or you may simply prefer a particular style of weapon, so it wouldn’t make sense to swap to a numerically superior choice that’s less fun.
5) Sometimes Numbers Are Everything
In contrast to weapons and armour, when it comes to artifacts there’s one simple rule – the higher number wins. Unless you want to double up on an artifact – which you can do - keep the highest power level version of each and salvage the rest.
Oh, and don’t pay attention to whether an artifact is “rare” or not. All that means is that you’ll get significantly more emeralds for salvaging it.
Don’t pay attention to whether an artifact is “rare” or not. All that means is that you’ll get significantly more emeralds for salvaging it.
6) You May Need to Grind Missions
A big part of Minecraft Dungeons is having the gear and artifacts you need to play the way you want to play. And sometimes that means replaying missions in the hopes of getting a specific loot drop. You can see what gear and artifacts you can earn in each location on the mission select screen, so whether you want another pair of Moon Daggers with better enchantment options or you need a specific artifact to take on the Arch-Illager, grinding missions is often the way to go.
Some missions have high value treasure chests that you can get to quickly, so if you really want to be efficient with your time, doing these makes sense. Soggy Cave, for instance, is much shorter than Soggy Swamp, with an Obsidian chest at the end, and offers almost the same range of gear and artifacts drops. Personally, I haven’t spent much time grinding missions as I invariably pick up a fun-looking piece of gear that distracts me from what I was looking for in the first place, and before I know it I’ve shifted character builds entirely.
7) Always Play Above Your Power Level if You Can
Minecraft Dungeons has a wealth of ways for players to fine tune its difficulty. Whether it’s your first time playing through on Default, or you’ve made it all the way to Apocalypse, you can tweak the challenge ahead of each and every mission by adjusting the slider on the mission select screen. Each tier has a recommended power level, but my rule of thumb is to always attempt missions set to at least a tier above my current power level. That way, the gameplay is more challenging and I have a chance to nab more premium loot. And if I’ve bumped it up too high it generally becomes obvious pretty quickly, so I try to rethink my load-out or just slink back to a lower setting.
8) Don’t Obsess Over Your Inventory’s Feng Shui
You’ll pick up a lot of gear as you adventure in Minecraft Dungeons, and most of it is pretty much only good for laughing derisively at. That said, there’s no need to obsessively clear out your inventory after each mission, as more options are generally better than fewer. Instead, just tab through each section every so often and get rid of the clearly inferior gear (either by power level or by enchantment slots).
A good time to do a full inventory clean-up is if when you badly need better gear in general. If that’s the case, salvage anything below a certain power level and spend the emeralds you earn at the Blacksmith. In my experience he rolls unique items regularly enough to be worth using, but bear in mind, the gear he rolls is based on your power level, so make sure you have your highest level items equipped before you visit him. And if you don’t need weapons and armor, wait until you do – and will invariably be at a higher level.
9) Think About Both Melee and Ranged
In Minecraft Dungeons every build is a hybrid, as you always have both a melee weapon and a ranged weapon equipped, so you should make the most of both. Don’t focus on putting enchantment points into your bow at the expense of your sword, for instance. Spread them out, then max out the enchantments that are of the highest value.
The ability to constantly switch between melee and ranged is one of the things that makes Minecraft Dungeons so fun, and means that even a rugged barbarian type can still pick off skeletons or Creepers from a distance, and that even a lithe archer with a fully levelled Lightning Harp Crossbow can still cut a swathe with a blade if need be.
Your armour is the main way you can lean towards melee over ranged or vice versa, but even then, unless you have a very specific build, you can choose enchantments that serve both purposes. You might have Snowball to stun enemies, Chilling to slow everything nearby or Frenzied to boost your attack speed when you’re at less than half health. There are a stack of armour enchantments that can help a hybrid approach.
Artifacts also let you play to your strengths. If you’re attacking at range more, you can select things like Flaming Quiver, Fireworks Arrow or Corrupted Beacon, whereas if you like getting up close and personal, you might prefer Death Cap Mushroom, Harvester or Shock Powder. I typically have a mix.
10) Plan Your Battle Strategy Holistically
It’s important to pick enchantments that enhance each weapon. Moon Daggers, for instance, are fast and furious, so any enchantments that have a percentage chance to proc with each attack – Radiance, Critical Hit, Poison Cloud, Thundering – will likely be very effective, and can lead to really fun, really unique-feeling combat.
One of my favourite combos with fast attack weapons like this is Radiance (a chance to heal), Critical Hit (a chance to do triple damage) and Gravity (which pulls mobs in range towards the weapon’s impact point), then activating Death Cap Mushroom (greatly increased attack and movement speed) to hoover in and destroy any nearby enemies while healing back any damage taken.
Another example of using enchantments to enhance a weapon would be Imploding Crossbow. This high power bow shoots arrows that pull in enemies and explode on impact, but has low ammo. You can shore this up with the Infinity enchantment, giving yourself a 48% chance to replenish an arrow after shooting. You can now use it much more freely. Infinity even applies to Fireworks Arrow and other arrow artifacts. Recycler can also be added to your armour to really ensure the arrows keep flowing.
Each weapon should also complement the rest of your load-out. If you have Electrified on your armor, for instance, you’ll zap enemies when you roll, so you may want Committed on your melee weapon, which deals extra damage against wounded enemies. Simply to roll towards mobs to initiate combat and you’ll be dealing extra damage immediately. There are a ton of synergies like this, both big and small, to utilise.
It’s also worth pointing out that there are actually a few ways individually good enchantments can work against one another. If you want to stun enemies with Snowball, for instance, you should probably then avoid adding Fire Trail, as there’s no point rolling to lay down a trail of fire if enemies can’t pursue you because they’re stunned.
The key is to try and come up with a holistic strategy when choosing which melee weapon, ranged weapon and armour will suit your approach, while also factoring in which enchantments they offer. It also means that any time you swap a weapon or piece of armour out, you may have to re-evaluate every other item you have equipped.
There are actually a few ways individually good enchantments can work against one another.
As mentioned earlier, artifacts are more flexible, as you can swap them around at will to suit the situation or as your build evolves. That said, you obviously need to be thinking about artifacts along with your other choices. You’re not going to use gear that quickly collects souls, for instance, unless you have a plan to capitalise on those souls. Artifacts can also help address weaknesses. It may be okay to skip healing across your enchantments, for instance, if you’re planning on using Totem of Regeneration or Soul Healer. Or if you’re worried about being overwhelmed, maybe you choose to equip some crowd control options.
Obviously it takes time and experience to start identifying synergistic load-outs, but as long as you’re trying to think about how a new enchantment will interact with existing ones from the start, you’ll be heading in the right direction.
11) Unique Isn’t Always Better
Just because a piece of gear is unique, doesn’t mean you should use it. Sometimes it’ll be a common item that has the stats and the enchantments you need to make the rest of your load-out sing, so use that instead... at least until the right unique comes along.
12) Co-Op Expands Your Options Even More
This is an obvious point for anyone who’s played a game in this style before, but if you have friends committed to playing co-op with you, Minecraft Dungeons can become a little more of a class-based game, in which you can choose your weapons and enchantments based on how they’ll work with other members of the party. Wolf Armor, for instance, has a +20% weapon damage boost aura and also makes health potions heal nearby allies, so is a lot more viable in co-op than single player. Soul Healer, meanwhile, while great as a solo player, really comes into its own in co-op as it heals the most injured ally, including yourself.
Oh, and always give other players a heads-up when you’re going to toss TNT – it’s the only friendly fire in the game.
13) Always Identify and Prioritise Key Targets
Not every mob is created equal, and some can have an outsize influence on a fight. Enchanters may be physically weak, but temporarily boost the strength of other mobs, so can really stop you in your tracks. Try and take them out first. Geomancers fall into the same category, as they summon in exploding totems and create walls to box you in. If an enemy limits your movement – prioritise it.
Not every mob is created equal, and some can have an outsize influence on a fight... If an enemy limits your movement – prioritise it.
14) Learn How to Find Hidden Treasure Chests
Missions often have hidden treasure chests in specific locations, and once you know where they are, you can get them each time. Try looking for areas of ground on your map that you can’t access by walking to – often you can roll across to the area and reveal a hidden chest. Hidden chests are also often waiting in dead ends, so I like to explore each map in full to make sure I don’t miss any. If a hidden chest is nearby you can actually hear it – it makes a humming sound.
Oh, and check the overlay map and the full map regularly – not only do they help you explore thoroughly, but sometimes you’ll miss a treasure chest but it’ll be marked on the map so you can double back.
15) Be Sure to Unlock All the Bonus Dungeons
There are four bonus dungeons to find within missions. Creeper Woods has Creepy Crypt, Soggy Swamp hides Soggy Cave, Pumpkin Pastures harbours Arch Haven, and Highblock Halls houses Underhalls. These don’t always spawn, but once they’re unlocked they appear on the mission menu and have specific gear and artifact drops, just like other missions.
And once you’ve beaten Minecraft Dungeons on Default difficulty you can start hunting down the nine runes. There’s one hidden in each of the main missions, and if you find them all you’ll unlock a neat nod to Diablo II.
Cam Shea is head of IGN's Sydney studio and is looking forward to a time when these Japan travel tips will become relevant again. He's on Twitter.