Minecraft. You might not have played it, but you’ve almost certainly heard of it. Released to the public back in 2009 in embryonic form, the game has been in development ever since, with players regularly receiving free software updates that continue to add exciting new features and functionality. But what is it? Well, it’s whatever you want it to be… After being dropped into a randomly generated 3D world, in which everything is created from a range of identically-sized cubes, it’s up to you what you choose to do. A huge part of the game’s appeal is it’s breadth: If you get bored of one area of gameplay, there’s many others to keep you amused. It would take hours, if not days, to go into all of them in detail but, for now, here’s a quick overview of some of the main things you can get up to.
One of the first things you’ll want to focus your efforts on is setting up a base, from which you can go on your adventures. Building a structure that protects you and your possessions from the game’s many threats is a great way to get the hang of the basic mechanic of gathering and placing materials. Alongside this, you’ll create yourself some basic tools such as axes, shovels and pickaxes to make the job easier, along with a crafting table and furnace to make the most of the resources you’ll find.
But where will you find them? Well, you might choose to go exploring and find a cave, where there’ll hopefully be some rare materials to mine, such as gold, iron and diamonds. You’ll need to keep alert though, as various baddies, known as ‘mobs’ may have other plans for you… Assuming you escape unharmed, the materials you gather can be applied in a number of ways: for example, crafting armour that offers further protection, developing more efficient and stronger tools, or building minecarts and rails to quickly transport you between locations. You might also explore above ground and find a village, where you can trade with the inhabitants for various precious items. Go further afield and you might notice changes in the landscape. In-game these different areas are known as biomes: Oceans, deserts, jungles and some altogether stranger places each offer unique resources and wildlife. Gather these and, before you know it, you’ll have a farmstead with a wealth of different crops and creatures you can use for essential food and supplies.
Back down the mine, you might find some lapis lazuli which you can use to enhance your tools and armour on your library’s enchantment table – if you’ve built one. Maybe you’ll find some redstone which you can use to create a whole range of electrical circuits powering anything, from secret doorways to rollercoasters that trigger firework displays. Or, perhaps you’ll pour some water onto lava and mine the resulting obsidian to create a Nether portal. Enter the Nether, and you’ll be faced with a whole new world of even more dangerous mobs. Whilst here, you might seek out a nether fortress. Kill the creatures known as blazes to collect their rods, and you can use those for potion brewing, which will be vital in crafting eyes of ender that help direct you to the world’s stronghold. From there, you can repair and use its portal to teleport to the Ender Dragon, the game’s end boss.
Now, that’s a lot to take in. And you might choose to do any number of these things, or you might just focus on one. It really doesn’t matter. The game allows you to do whichever of these you get enjoyment from, in whatever order you wish. It’s perhaps this that is the heart of Minecraft’s success: a lot of games get referred to as open-world, but very few live up to the promise. And, of course, you don’t have to do any of this alone. The real fun starts when you play online with your friends – creating worlds and going on adventures together – Minecraft offers true social gaming…
Do you love Minecraft? Then watch Minecraft: Digging Deeper – new episodes every Wednesday on the GINX channel – written and hosted by Steve McNeil! Check out the TV Guide for more information.