Microsoft’s hit block-building franchise embarked into fresh territory this spring, with its first action-centric spin-off, Minecraft Dungeons. The divergence from Minecraft’s creative roots birthed an accessible dungeon-crawler fit for all, driven by its role-playing wonder and that grind for rare loot. The title now enters July accompanied by its first DLC expansion dubbed “Jungle Awakens,” providing our first example of planned long-term support from the developer, Mojang.
Jungle Awakens is the first of multiple planned content drops, with the previously-teased “Creeping Winter” DLC to follow over the months ahead. And while Minecraft Dungeons’ initial content offering failed to satisfy all, Microsoft hopes future additions will keep players returning far beyond launch. Minecraft Dungeons’ game director, Måns Olson, sat down with Windows Central to talk its latest Jungle Awakens DLC, a glimpse into Creeping Winter, and the team’s mindset for what comes next.
From Jungle Awakens to Creeping Winter — and beyond
Minecraft Dungeons recently received Jungle Awakens, adding three levels to explore, and new loot rewards.Source: Microsoft
The latest jungle biome comes distanced from existing content, featuring three diverse levels populated by flora and fauna of the wilderness. The island conveys the sense of a long-forgotten world, with abandoned structures reclaimed by vegetation, and hostile mobs draped in vines. That also translates to the included gear, through plant-based whips and ocelot armor among the most coveted arrivals. Microsoft has also dropped free content adjacent to its first paid expansion, delivering a balance set to continue moving forward.
“As we patch the game around the time of DLCs, we’re looking to do both paid and free content.”
“With [Jungle Awakens,] we are adding the three new missions that you get if you purchase the DLC, and new mobs and items that you can find in those missions,” said Olson. “But also some free content, we have the new mission, Lower Temple, and there’s all sorts of new gear that you can find in that mission. And we’ve added an extra threat level to the threat level slider, sort of in-between difficulties.”
“[T]hat’s something that we plan to do in the future as well. As we patch the game around the time of DLCs, we’re looking to do both paid and free content. We have a community that we want to look after, and that we’re motivated by, and so obviously, we want to serve them as well as we can.”
While Microsoft isn’t talking its Creeping Winter update, players have already found icy imagery via game files.Source: /u/zozozrobv2 on Reddit
“After [Creeping Winter] we’ll also begin to gradually add more dedicated endgame content”
“For this DLC, as you know, we focused mostly on widening the content. And so for the next DLC, which is Creeping Winter, we’re looking to also expand some of the game systems a little bit further. We’re looking at changing up the item economy with some new merchants in the camp and new items to find. And then, after that, we’ll also begin to gradually add more dedicated endgame content.”
“I don’t want to make promises when we’re not entirely finished with the DLC. But certainly just making the camp feel a bit more lively and have some interesting merchants is something that we’re looking to do.”
While Minecraft Dungeons’ existing camp is relatively quiet, there’s more to come in future DLCs.Source: Windows Central
We know Mojang has toyed with gear upgrades through a concept dubbed “diamond dust,” but its final implementation remains under development. “Diamond dust is, without going into too many specifics, something that we’re figuring out the right way for you to upgrade and retain your favourite weapon, while still encouraging players to explore different archetypes and try new things as the game gets updated [and] as we change the balance of items and enchantments. It’s just something we want to do. Finding the right balance between those two and a system to do that. That’s certainly something that we’re considering for the Creeping Winter update.”
Minecraft’s recent Nether Update added a ton of hellish content, and a prime candidate for Minecraft Dungeons DLC.Source: Windows Central
Future Minecraft Dungeons expansions will mark fresh chapters in the adventure, touching on new biomes and experiences lifted from the original game. “We’ll be looking to explore new biomes and environments with every DLC basically going forward. And as we do, that brings both new styles of gameplay that might be appropriate, and an opportunity to bring in more things from Minecraft, as well. So, the base game has a bunch of things that we haven’t explored yet, that we may want to explore in the future.”
Minds immediately gravitate toward the series’ iconic realms like The Nether and The End, and Olson acknowledges the team has discussed their position in Minecraft Dungeons. That follows various player-found files just several weeks prior, suggesting both locations are in development. That half-built Nether portal sitting in your camp likely isn’t there for nothing.
Paid DLC, free updates, and the bridge between
“It’s a combination of factors, but we like it as a model for providing content,” Olson states. We think it suits the type of game that we’re developing. It just seemed [like] the right business model to us. But to be clear, we absolutely do want to make sure that the game feels interesting and fresh, and that we provide value to players, even if they don’t purchase the DLCs.”
Cross-play is still coming in the “relatively near future,” but Mojang isn’t talking dates.
For the future, Mojang hopes to maintain the balance between paid expansions, while still serving those with the base game. “I think that will not necessarily be exactly the same with each update. But just in general, we want to make sure there’s enough free content to feel compelling and interesting and keep players interested. And then to allow us to develop some more meaty things, we also want to look at doing some paid DLC.”
One of those free updates will be the previously-teased arrival of cross-platform multiplayer, bridging Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC players. While scheduled for the “relatively near future,” Mojang still isn’t talking firm dates on the cross-play debut. Olson also didn’t rule out the potential of cross-platform saves, but warns they’re not on the roadmap to drop with its cross-play update.
While some titles combat this through limited-time challenges or themed events, Mojang’s content focus sits with each flagship update. However, Olson said the team is looking into potential methods, not ruling out future developments.
“I think most of what you’ll see will come with these larger updates. And part of the reasoning for that is just making sure that we can ship to all the various platforms that we’re supporting. But we’re interested to see what we can do to keep players interested between those updates. That’s something that we’re looking at, but not something that we have any announcements to make today.”
Minecraft Dungeons’ first major update is now live across all platforms, with the standalone Jungle Awakens DLC for $6, or bundled alongside Creeping Winter and exclusive items through the $10 Minecraft Dungeons Hero Pass. That includes the stages Dingy Jungle, Overgrown Temple, and Panda Plateau — alongside new mobs to battle, and gear to hunt down.
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