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Minecraft Dungeons beginner’s guide: Tips and tricks for mastering the voxel ARPG

Minecraft Dungeons looks like another Diablo clone on the surface, and for the most part, it is. However, for as much as it borrows from other action RPGs, it has an equal amount of unique mechanics. For example, there aren’t traditional merchants in Minecraft Dungeons. Rather, the vendors at your camp only sell random gear, and they won’t buy gear from you.

The game doesn’t have an in-depth tutorial, either, so learning about the game’s unique mechanics is usually a process of trial and error (and a test of patience). To get you started on the right path, we’ve compiled a list of the top Minecraft Dungeons tips and tricks.

Further reading

Don’t get too attached to your gear

If Minecraft Dungeons isn’t your first ARPG, you already know this. You should never get too attached to your gear. You’ll constantly find new things, often of a higher level, so it’s important to always update your loadout so you have the best of the best equipped.

Outside of constantly finding new gear, there are two other reasons you shouldn’t get too attached to your loadout. First, Minecraft Dungeons is a classless game. You don’t choose to play as a rogue or an archer in the beginning. Of course, you can find gear that best suits your playstyle, but in the early game, that’s not a luxury you can often afford. If you normally use daggers, try a hammer out. Likewise, if you’re familiar with a glaive, try out some sickles. Your loadout should be in constant motion when you’re starting.

Secondly, higher gear is always better. You can equip any level of gear, even if your level is much lower, so suiting up with the best in your inventory is a great way to go. If you want the best loot in the game, make sure to check out our Minecraft Dungeons weapons and armor guide.

Use the map and explore

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Pressing down on your controller’s D-pad will open a semi-transparent map. Holding down for a while will open a full map view, showing which areas you’ve explored, as well as how many chests you’ve opened and how many secrets you’ve found. Use your map often to explore areas off the beaten path. There are often large chunks of the map that you don’t need to go to for the main objective, and exploring them will not only earn you experience, but it’ll also often earn you better gear.

Exploring is more important in Minecraft Dungeons than it is in other ARPGs, though. The Blacksmith and Wandering Trader — who show in your camp when you complete the Creeper Woods and Pumpkin Patch, respectively — work differently from vendors in Torchlight and Diablo. You can’t buy specific gear from them. Rather, for a set price, they’ll drop a random piece of gear in line with your level.

That’s why opening chests is so important. Although you still don’t have control over what, if anything, appears in a chest, you have a greater chance of acquiring new gear if you’re opening every chest possible. Plus, you can always salvage low-level gear for emeralds, which you can then use to buy other gear from the Blacksmith and Wandering Trader.

Always kill the cow

In most levels, you’ll encounter cows and sheep among the mobs you face. These animals won’t attack you, but with a wrong swing of your sword, you’ll notice they have a health bar. Unlike most other ARPGs, Minecraft Dungeons doesn’t have crates for you to smash along your journey. Instead, you have cows and sheep, and killing them will often net you a health reward. We don’t want to kill them, either, but it’s the cycle of life in Minecraft Dungeons. 

Enchant early, enchant often

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There isn’t a traditional leveling system in Minecraft Dungeons. Each time you level up, you don’t earn skill points or anything like that. Rather, you earn enchantment points, which you can spend to upgrade your weapons. It may be tempting to wait so you can dump your enchantment points into a sweet piece of loot, but you shouldn’t. Enchanted weapons have a huge advantage over stock ones. In some cases, a single enchantment point can raise your weapon’s damage by 50%.

There’s no risk in enchanting early game loot, either. Whenever you salvage an item, you’ll earn some emeralds, along with any enchantment points you’ve used. Go crazy with enchantment points, especially in the early game. You can always reuse those points once you’ve picked up better gear.

Replay levels to earn better gear

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Minecraft Dungeons has a total of 18 difficulty levels. There are three main levels — Default, Adventure, and Apocalypse — and within them, a threat slider that goes from one to six. Replaying levels on a higher difficulty will earn you better gear, and in some cases, unique items. On your first playthrough, we recommend upping the difficulty slider of the Default mode for at least a few levels. Although you won’t earn new gear this way, you’ll earn higher-level gear.

The other two difficulty modes, Adventure and Apocalypse, function as New Game+ modes. You’ll unlock Adventure after defeating the Arch-Illager on Default, and you’ll unlock Apocalypse after defeating the Arch-Illager on Adventure. Here’s how the game summarizes each mode.


  • Enemies are balanced for a first playthrough
  • Very few enchanted enemies
  • Rewards are average


  • Enemies are hard to defeat and hit hard
  • New enemy enchantments
  • Rewards are better
  • New gear and artifacts available


  • Enemies are ultra beefy and ultra punishing
  • Lots of enemies with powerful enchantments
  • Rewards are excellent
  • Even more gear and artifacts available

Don’t sell, salvage

Xbox Game Studios

As mentioned above, you’ll pick up a lot of gear while playing Minecraft Dungeons. Most of it will either be lower or on par with what you have equipped, but you should still add these items to your inventory. You can’t sell gear you don’t want, but you can salvage it. Doing so will earn you a chunk of emeralds, along with any enchantment points you’ve sunk into the item.

You can salvage at any time, and if you remember, you should be doing it constantly. At the very least, you should take stock of your inventory between each level and salvage any items that you’re not using.

Don’t be afraid to run

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Minecraft Dungeons simplifies a lot of the systems of other ARPGs. That doesn’t, however, mean that the game is easy. Even if you’re respecting the power rating of each level (more on that in a moment), you can quickly become overwhelmed with mobs of enemies, especially if you’re playing solo. Plus, you can’t just spam dash to work your way around an area.

Your dash makes you invincible for a brief moment, but it has a cooldown. You should only use it if you have no other options. If you try (and fail) to dash around a combat arena, you’ll be overwhelmed. Instead, dash and run to flee if you’re low on health. Enemies won’t respawn, and any damage you’ve dealt will remain (this includes boss encounters). Furthermore, your health potion has a cooldown, so you can use it as many times as you need. If you’re surrounded and low on health, run and wait it out.

If you happen to die, that’s fine. You have three chances at life before the game boots you back to camp, and enemies don’t regain life if you die. Take your beats in stride, and if you can, play it safe the second time around.

Explore your camp between levels

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Between each level, you’ll have the opportunity to explore your camp. Here, you can test out new gear on the straw dummies, as well as buy items from the Blacksmith and Wandering Traveler. After each level, though, you can also find an emerald chest in your camp. The location of the chest changes after each level, so make sure to read our Minecraft Dungeons emerald chest locations guide to get rid of the guesswork.

Each chest will earn you and everyone in your party 50 emeralds, and although it may not seem like much, it adds up quickly. You’ll need a lot of emeralds to track down the best gear in the game, so picking up a guaranteed 50 after each level is a good way to build your stock.

Listen for bells

Xbox Game Studios

Whenever you’re near a chest, you’ll hear a faint chime of bells. And by faint, we mean really faint. When you’re surrounded by a mob, the sound disappears entirely, and even when you’re exploring, it often sounds like part of the music. Identifying this sound is important, though. There are a lot of dead ends in Minecraft Dungeons, so there’s no sense in exploring a path if there’s no loot on the other side. If you listen closely for bells, however, you’ll know what awaits you.

The trick is identifying this sound. When you find your first few chests, stand around them for a moment before opening and listen for it. Whenever you hear that sound again, you’ll know that loot is nearby.

Respect the power level

Each level and each difficulty setting has a power level rating. Although you might be able to complete a mission slightly above your level, you should stay as close to the recommended power level as much as you can. Like most ARPGS, Minecraft Dungeons has a vertical design where replaying levels is essential. That’s different than something like, say, The Witcher 3, which has a horizontal design. In that game, you gradually take on more difficult quests to earn better rewards.

In short, Minecraft Dungeons plays a little differently than other RPGs. You wouldn’t take on an end-game boss from the start in Final Fantasy XV, and you wouldn’t tackle a level 40 quest in The Witcher 3 when you’re level 5. Likewise, you shouldn’t play a mission in Minecraft Dungeons that’s well above your power level. The game may have simplistic systems, and it may be based on a game that’s easygoing. That doesn’t mean Minecraft Dungeons is easy. Don’t get cocky; respect the power level.

Pausing doesn’t stop the game

No matter if you’re playing online or offline, pausing or opening your map doesn’t stop what’s happening around you. Dark Souls fans will feel right at home, but for everyone else, it’s a big change from most other games. If you need to equip new gear or glance at the full map screen, find an area free of threat to do it. Otherwise, you’ll die.

This is especially important to note because there’s no indication that pausing doesn’t actually pause the game. Both the map and pause menu fill the screen entirely, suggesting that the game is, in fact, paused. Don’t fall for the trick, though. Dying while you’re trying to check your loot is the worst feeling in Minecraft Dungeons.

Roll to reach faraway places

If you’re exploring every level, you’ll come across multiple instances where there’s a chest just out of reach, with only a few blocks to guide your path. You can’t jump in Minecraft Dungeons, but you can roll. Positioning yourself correctly will allow you to close the gap over bottomless pits and acid-filled waters. Plus, dying from the environment doesn’t count toward your lives for the level, so you can retry as many times as you need.

Try out a Soul build

Finally, we have Soul builds. During your journey in Minecraft Dungeons, you’ll pick up artifacts. Artifacts function like spells, allowing you to spawn an AoE healing beacon and shoot fireworks at your enemies, among other things. Artifacts are very powerful, and because of that, they’re on a cooldown. With a stock build, the only way to reduce that cooldown is to find higher-level versions of the artifacts you have equipped.

That is unless you have a Soul Robe. On higher difficulties, you’ll find rare Soul Robes, and if you have one equipped, you can harvest the souls from the enemies you kill. This will cause enemies to drop soul versions of weapons, armor, and artifacts. This gear harvests more souls, and as long as you have the Soul Robe equipped, reduces artifact cooldown time. If everything is working in tandem, you can unleash an endless barrage of artifact powers, cooldown be damned.

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Jacob Roach
Lead Reporter, PC Hardware
Jacob Roach is the lead reporter for PC hardware at Digital Trends. In addition to covering the latest PC components, from…
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