Minecraft - Review


Minecraft

Minecraft - Review

Introduction

Minecraft is hard to write about, not because it’s a bad game, but because it’s just so popular. Minecraft is pretty much the most popular game on the market today and has been out for just over ten years now, it’s fair to say that pretty much every gamer out there has tried it once or twice, and most parents have definitely heard about it.

However, it’s incredibly important, when discussing Minecraft to keep in mind its target audience, an audience of children and young teenagers. Despite the many features that make Minecraft a great game, it still remains geared towards younger players, making it hard for older players to really get into it. Hard, not impossible, and the reason for that will be explained and in great detail!

Minecraft was originally released in 2009, with a single alpha edition available on PC. Since then, it’s expanded greatly (partly due to the company behind Minecraft, Mojang, being acquired by Microsoft a few years in), and has become available for players on nearly every console imaginable. Players everywhere are playing Minecraft, and with good reason.

Gameplay

Minecraft, at its core, is exactly what the title suggests: it’s an open-world sandbox game about mining and crafting. The game is 3D, and the world is composed of cubic blocks a meter wide, although a lot of items have more complex geometries. The block, however, remains the building -uhm- block of the Minecraft universe.

Players can choose to play in either Creative or Survival mode, depending on whether they want to engage in maintaining a player character’s health and hunger, as well as working to extract materials from the procedurally generated world around them, or instead deciding they’d prefer to focus on the creative aspects of the game and be given infinite resources and the capability to fly.

It’s really the player’s choice. I personally prefer Survival mode, just because it gives me a bit of a challenge, although there is a lot to be gained from playing in Creative mode as well. Some really incredible builds have been made through Minecraft Creative mode, with some requiring as many as hundreds of players working together in perfect synchronicity over months to create entire landscapes and life-size cities even.

That’s not to say Survival isn’t any fun. Survival mode is all about the adventure, exploring procedurally generated worlds, discovering all the different mobs that inhabit them and uncovering a few scattered villages and temples. The items that players get to use in Minecraft are also fun to play around with, from taming and riding horses, to breeding different animals and farming, as well as battling the Ender Dragon for the right to explore the End dimension and get a pair of Elytra wings to fly around your world.


To be perfectly honest, Minecraft could definitely do with being more rewarding. It’s definitely fun the first few times you find a village or raid a pyramid in the middle of a desert, but there’s no real reward for doing that.

The recent Minecraft updates have been working to rectify that, but compared to a game like Terraria, for example, Minecraft maintains its superiority because of its sheer size.

Worlds in Minecraft generate as the player explores them, so players have the option of making creations limited only by the performance of their device, which is actually enormous. It’s difficult to discuss just what makes Minecraft feel a bit hollow to me, but it’s most likely the lack of a story or progression.

Minecraft is pretty much a sandbox, and if you don’t especially like being left alone in a sandpit to make sandcastles and toss mud around, you might not especially like Minecraft.

That being said, the vast majority of people that play Minecraft don’t do so alone. Almost since its inception, Minecraft has been a multiplayer game, and the creativity that people have shown in some of the online servers is astounding.

Playing with friends is a great experience when playing Minecraft; there’s just nothing out there like traipsing around the world, exploring and reaving with a friend (or friends) of yours as well as making derpy creations and defacing the face of the planet. Minecraft isn’t so much about the order or following a storyline.

It’s mainly about doing what you like, and have to fund while doing it, especially with friends. If you prefer more “ordered” fun or an expansion to what Minecraft has to offer, you are most definitely in luck.

User-Generated Content

Since Minecraft is effectively the digital equivalent of a sandbox, one of the first things that appeared on the Minecraft Forums was the idea of sharing worlds and creations. Since then, creators and amateurs alike have been creating worlds and structures and spreading them around the internet for free, where other players can download them and enjoy them as they like.

While yes, the fact that the player base is huge and that pretty much anyone can upload whatever content they want can make the content a bit subpar at times, there still remains great content out there for those looking to explore Minecraft beyond the border of their world.

Custom maps, as they’re called in the Minecraft community were a trend that appeared a few years ago (they still exist, although greatly weakened by the forces of time), where creators would develop an adventure-like scenario or puzzle game within Minecraft for other players to download and explore.

By using the sandbox of Minecraft as a canvas, players can create things and share them with others through the same platform.

Unfortunately, I do need to note that, over the past couple of years with Minecraft’s expansion into the console realm, fewer and fewer new players are realizing that this is the truth of the matter, and its mainly Microsoft’s fault.

New players are being exposed to in-game, first-party purchasable content, where before players could download from an even greater selection for free. Items like custom worlds, or player skins are now being sold for relatively significant sums (especially for younger children without a source of income).

This all suggests to me a new business model that Microsoft has adopted in the past few years with regards to Minecraft, especially when considered in combination with the content that new updates add targeting younger and younger children that would be more susceptible to this kind of monetization.

However, as I mentioned earlier, for older players and those looking for a different experience, the possibility for that to be reached is still there in Minecraft, but this time through the world of mods! While Minecraft’s modding community isn’t quite as big as Skyrim’s it comes pretty close.

With the proper preparation, players can easily install mods (or packs of hundreds of mods) that can add or change behavior to Minecraft, easily extending its life span by tens or hundreds of hours.

As a sandbox, Minecraft’s potential to programmers and mod creators is unlimited, creating huge numbers of different places to take the game, with mod packs out there suitable for players looking for a more story-oriented adventure, a technological experience, and even a fantasy-themed one!

Conclusion

In conclusion, Minecraft is definitely a fun game to play. While probably not the best out there from a technical perspective, and easy to get bored of if it’s not really your idea of a good time, those with friends that enjoy playing Minecraft will find it hard to let go of.

And when you’re done with that, there’s still piles of UGC out there to explore, including custom maps, skins, and an entire world of mods out there. Minecraft might not be as good as it once was, and its community has soured a bit in recent years, but nothing can take away the fun that you can get from exploring, collecting resources, and reshaping the world to your whim as only Minecraft can allow.


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Updated 1 month ago