There's something delightful about seeing Enderman appear in Minecraft Dungeons (opens in new tab). It's sort of like spotting a celebrity on the street—a completely familiar figure but in a new context. It's a surprising little thrill. Hey, I know that guy!
I've been feeling that a lot with Mojang's upcoming isometric co-op dungeon crawler, which is filled with familiar enemies presented in a new format. I played a few hours of the beta recently and found it fun and frantic (opens in new tab), though I wondered if the streamlined nature of the game will stay interesting as long as deeper crawlers like Diablo and Grim Dawn.
Yesterday I got to see more of Minecraft Dungeons, including some stuff that wasn't in the closed beta, like the tall, creepy Enderman. I wasn't playing it myself, I was watching Mojang's game director Måns Olson play as we chatted over Discord—which is how game previews have to work these days, since leaving the house and getting on a plane is out of the question.
"The Enderman is an example of something that we've had to adapt from Minecraft," Olson said. "It has a very special mechanic in that when you look at it, it becomes hostile. In 3D space that works quite well."
Here in Minecraft Dungeons, however, with an isometric view, the player doesn't have crosshairs to plant on Enderman's body if they want to piss him off. The sight-line aggro system just doesn't translate well to the new perspective.
"So instead," Olson said, "we've interpreted that as: If you're near enough to the Enderman he'll get angrier and angrier over time."
Wander too close and Enderman's eyes glow bright purple, the screen is filtered with a static effect as a warning, an ominous sound triggers, and he swivels to stare in rage at the player. Stay close for too long and the Enderman screeches and becomes hostile.
While I haven't faced him myself yet, this translation of Enderman's extreme self-consciousness feels like a nice adaptation of his behavior from Minecraft's sandbox. Players will still be able to decide if they want fight Enderman or try to avoid him by keeping their distance.
Enderman still attacks in much the same way as in Minecraft: Teleporting around and dishing out melee attacks with his long, goofy arms. The thing that makes him angry may have changed, but he still feels like the same weirdo we've known for almost 10 years.
Minecraft Dungeons recently got delayed by a month, but it's still out soon, on May 26th.