Been a while since you last checked into Minecraft? Me too. When I last played, it was the glory days of 1.5 – blocky terrain and poky mines ahoy. Since then, it’s gotten up to the 1.8 release, and Notch has been hella busy. So, if you’re blinking in the glorious new light of the 1.8 release, here’s our guide to its new features.
Yep, you can throw away your cherished copy of the Minecraft Fly Mod – Minecraft now includes a dedicated mode for creators who don’t want to be bothered with all that “zombies and walking” nonsense, and it includes flying, invulnerability, one-click destruction of blocks, infinite supplies of every block, and more.
Personally I’m kind of on the fence with this one – if I was making MASSIVE structures with Minecraft, I’m sure this would be a breath of fresh air, but to me it feels a bit like the challenge is removed. Sure, you can now build gigantic structures with ease, but part of the satisfaction of building in Survival Mode was knowing you really worked for everything you were doing – you mined that gold, you fought off those creepers, and you went on the endless quest to find enough coal to smelt all the glass for your bridge.
Of course, you can still do all that, but I can’t help feeling it might seem a bit unsatisfying now, particularly in multiplayer where you can just change a server variable to go to Creative EZ mode.
But I’m sure I’m in the minority! Loads of creatives will be really excited by the new possibilities, and we’re already seeing some absolutely stonking new creations with the freedom Creative Mode offers.
If you’re interested in getting all Creative, we’ve got a full guide to using Creative Mode all ready for you.
New Biomes and new terrain generation – rivers, oceans, mushrooms and swamps
Notch has been hella busy. The latest versions of Minecraft have completely changed the way terrain is created, and the results are pretty astounding.
For starters, everything’s a lot bigger. New Ocean and Mountain Range biomes mean that you don’t just get tiny lakes you can cross in a minute or so any more. As I write this article, I’m also running Creative Mode, and I’ve been crossing a single ocean in my Minecraft world for 5 minutes straight – flying. Deserts, mountain ranges, and even forests can be similarly huge.
The world’s now split by rivers, too, which add a new level of realism to the map, and every so often you’ll come across a massive ravine splitting the landscape and heading deep into the earth.
Caves haven’t been ignored either – rather than mostly being small, poky tunnels, they now often open out to massive underground areas with towering lava falls and general epic coolness.
Finally, there are entire new terrain types – swamps, which are about as dismal as you’d expect, and Mushroom Forests. Opinion varies somewhat on both of them – personally, I’m a big fan of the swamps, which add an entirely new feel to the world, but not so much a fan of the Mushrooms, which feel less Zangermarsh and more Nintendo.
Man-made structures – villages and strongholds (aka Ruins)
One of the most touted features of 1.8 has been the NPC villages. Whilst they don’t yet have Other People in them (and may not for some while to come), the mere fact they’re there totally changes the feel of the world – there’s an eerie, ghostly, post-apocalypse vibe to exploring this massive, deserted world and suddenly coming across an abandoned village, full of tools and items.
Even cooler than these (yeah, I know I’m coming across a bit Minecraft fanboy, but dammit, this stuff is awesome) are the new Strongholds, aka Ruins. (If you’ve been confused by Wiki mentions – they’re both the same thing).
These mostly spawn underground, and there are only 3 per world, so you may never see one. They’re areas made of stone, and filled with items you’d normally only find in civilised areas – bookcases, doors, paper. Essentially, they’re an underground castle – a dungeon rather than a mine. They also contain a unique monster – of which…
New monsters – Enderman and Silverfish
Finally, 1.8 contains two new monsters: the Enderman and the Silverfish.
The Enderman was specifically created to scare the pants off Minecraft players, according to the creator Notch. They’re tall, thin, near-black creatures, which stand moving blocks around and ignore you until you look directly at them. When you do, they freeze in place. You’re now in a Doctor Who situation – whilst you’re looking at them, they won’t move, but as soon as you look away, they charge straight for you, teleporting to get around anything in their path. (It’s safe to say Notch may have been somewhat influenced by popular culture ).
Silverfish, meanwhile, are only found in Strongholds. They start as a block type – however, when that block is destroyed, a Silverfish spawns, and attacks. If that happens, don’t attack back – their major trick is to call for help when summoned. IF a Silverfish is attacked, any Silverfish blocks nearby are likely to also break – at which point you’re facing the infamous Silverfish Swarm.
Silverfish have already become a popular tool for traps and griefing on multiplayer servers – beware before you click on that block!
Did we miss anything about 1.8? Let us know below!