Microsoft-owned Mojang has announced a new game, but anyone who thought it might be a departure from the voxel-based world of Minecraft may be disappointed: It's a dungeon-crawler dubbed... Minecraft: Dungeons.
Founded in 2009 by Markus 'Notch' Persson, Mojang's biggest success was undoubtedly Minecraft. Based on the earlier Infiniminer, developed by Zachtronics' Zach Barth and released under a permissive open-source licence after its source code was leaked, Minecraft places the player in a world filled with voxel-based cubes which can be mined for material then used in crafting - hence the name. The game proved a massive success for the company in a way that its successive projects - digital card game Caller's Bane, previously known as Scrolls before a lawsuit from The Elder Scrolls creator Bethesda put paid to that; side-scroller Cobalt; and cancelled space exploration title 0x10ᶜ - did not. By the time the game had left beta, Mojang had racked up more than 16 million registered users and four million paying customers - and as of January this year had sold 144 million copies across all platforms, making it the second-most popular game in history after Alexey Pajitnov's block-'em-up Tetris.
Following its acquisition by Microsoft in a $2.5 billion deal that saw Persson leave the company, Mojang has been concentrating on Minecraft. After taking the sandbox game to LEGO, adding a story-driven adventure, launching an educational version, finding a director for a film based on the franchise, and even using the game to train artificial intelligences, Mojang is stretching the concept still further with a planned dungeon-crawler.
'Minecraft: Dungeons is being created by a small and dedicated team in Stockholm, Sweden. This has been a passion project for them, and is inspired by their love of classic dungeon crawler games,' Mojang explains in its announcement. 'It’s an all-new action-adventure game inspired by classic dungeon crawlers, where you’ll constantly discover new weapons and items that will help you defeat a ruthless swarm of new-and-nasty mobs. You’ll fight or flee through canyons, swamps and – of course – mines! You can brave the dungeons alone, or team up with friends. Up to four players can battle together through action-packed, treasure-stuffed, wildly varied levels, all in an epic quest to save the villagers and take down the evil Arch-Illager!'
Interestingly, Mojang's launch announcement makes no reference to availability on consoles: Instead, Tom Stone's post describes the game as 'coming to [Windows] PC in 2019' - though if it doesn't at least arrive on Microsoft's Xbox One platform it'd be a real shock.
April 7 2020 | 14:00