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Minecraft Dungeons beginner’s guide, tips, and tricks

Eight tips to help you be the best adventurer you can be

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Minecraft Dungeons artwork Image: Mojang/Xbox Game Studios via Polygon
Jeffrey Parkin (he/him) has been writing video game guides for Polygon for almost seven years. He has learned to love just about every genre of game that exists.

Minecraft Dungeons plays a lot like any other isometric hack and slash game, just skinned with the iconic Minecraft blockiness. It’s a gentle introduction to Diablo-like games for those new to the genre, but it’s still challenging enough to keep even veterans interested.

Below, we’ll share our best tips for getting the most out of the Minecraft Dungeons.

Replay every level to get better gear

The world and levels of Minecraft Dungeons are a mix of preset design and randomly generated rewards. While the layout of every level will remain the same (or similar, at least), many of the enemies, their loot drops, and chest locations will change every time you play.

Replaying levels and tackling those tougher enemies will earn you better gear.

Every level has multiple difficulties to choose from — the strength and number of enemies increases as the difficulty increases. The level of the potential gear is tied to the difficulty, and you can see the range of drops on the mission select screen.

Take recommended power levels seriously

Since higher difficulties get you higher level gear, it’s tempting to set the difficulty a little higher than your current power level. In theory, the better gear would give you a huge boost.

Don’t do that, though. Until you’re close to (or, preferably, above) the recommended power, those fights will be more frustrating than they’re worth. Instead, play at the highest level you can while still staying at or above the recommended power. You’ll still get incrementally better gear and earn emeralds.

Make progress on easy difficulty and get gear on hard

Minecraft Dungeons beginner’s guide
Gear and artifact drops are shown on the mission select screen.
Image: Mojang/Xbox Game Studios via Polygon

Just like a mission’s difficulty determines the level of the drops you’ll pick up, the level itself determines what those drops are. And that means it’s smart to have options — more levels available means a wider variety of gear available.

Set the difficulty to the lowest setting to just breeze through levels and open them up. Then, you can check the rewards and drops on the mission select screen. Cruising through levels on easy won’t prepare you for the harder fights toward the end of the game (because you won’t have appropriate-leveled gear), so replay levels with the difficulty as high as you can manage (see above) to find better stuff.

Don’t save your emeralds

Aside from loot like armor and weapons, you’ll also be picking up emeralds in every level. You’ll spend these at the two vendors who arrive at your camp:

  • A Blacksmith, who arrives after you complete the Creeper Woods level for the first time.
  • A Wandering Trader, who shows up after you complete the Pumpkin Patch for the first time.

These two vendors will give you a random item — gear from the Blacksmith, and artifacts from the Trader — in exchange for emeralds. Gear includes things like armor, bows, and weapons, while artifacts are the temporary boost items like Boots of Swiftness or Flaming Quivers.

There’s nothing else for you to spend your emeralds on, so don’t hoard them. Roll the dice on new gear any time you have money. You won’t always (or even usually) get something better than you already have, but you might. And that chance is worth it.

Salvage unused gear for emeralds

Gear and artifacts only have a few stats associated with them, but the only one you really need to worry about is its level. Higher level gear is better (or, to put it another way, bigger numbers are better).

Gear that you’ve grown out of can’t be sold, but it can be salvaged from your inventory. This turns anything you’ve picked up into emeralds which you can then exchange for more gear.

Salvage gear to regain Enchantment Points

Every time you level up, you’ll get an Enchantment Point. From your inventory, you’ll spend these points to unlock (random) perks on your gear.

You don’t have to horde these points waiting for better gear, though. When you salvage a piece of enchanted gear, you’ll get a few emeralds and all of the Enchantment Points back. That means you can swap out gear and immediately enchant it.

Some gear has multiple enchantment slots

Low level gear will only have one enchanment available at a time. You’ll still be able to spend up to six Enchantment Points to level up that enchantment and increase its effectiveness. As you find better and better gear, though, some will have additional enchantment slots. You’ll see this in the bottom right of your Inventory screen — the metal-like diamonds indicate unavailable slots, so any that aren’t diamonds are open to enchantments.

While you’re enchanting your gear, hit left or right on the thumbstick or D-pad to cycle through these slots.

Use ranged weapons on ranged enemies

There are no classes in Minecraft Dungeons, so you’ll need to use everything at your disposal to take out enemies. You’ll have both melee weapons and ranged bows (and a handful of artifacts for added buffs) at all times. And you’ll be facing a constant mix of ranged and melee enemies.

To be successful, you’ll need to use both melee and ranged weapons, and switch between them constantly. Use your melee weapon for enemies that get close, and save your arrows for those pesky skeleton archers and geomancers.

Use your map constantly

Aside from killing mobs and freeing villagers, Minecraft Dungeons is about exploration. Every level is complex and has multiple dead ends, branching paths, and attached tunnels. Exploring every block of the map means you’ll find every secret chest and get the most loot possible.

Pressing down on the D-pad will pull up an outline of the map overlaid on your screen. It’s a little distracting, but you can see where you’re going and any detours you should explore.

Minecraft Dungeons (beta) tips and tricks
Your map will tell you how many secrets and chests are in the level.
Image: Mojang/Xbox Game Studios via Polygon

Holding down on the D-pad pulls up a dedicated map screen. You’ll be able to see the layout of the level a bit better, but more importantly, you’ll see how many secrets (invisible chests that only appear when you’re near them, for example) and regular chests there are scattered around.

The number of chests includes the hidden chests, but doesn’t count the supplies chests you’ll find before fights.

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