The square sun rises over the peak of a mountain in the distance, sheep prance in the fields and there is that feeling in the air that anything is possible. I am the King of all I survey and set to work. Before the day is out, there is wood to collect, stone to mine, equipment to craft and a shelter to construct. Of course, this is but one part of Minecraft
so before settling in for the night, I go for a stroll. Unfortunately this is where my dream turned into a nightmare as the sun set. I took several wrong turns and suddenly my map made no sense. The only sounds audible were ominous hisses and the poignant chords of the piano playing in the background as I wandered, growing more and more lost with each step. I feared that I would never see my humble abode again. I set myself up on a small patch of land just off the beach. There I watched creatures flank, but never attack. When dawn broke, I felt I was safe and went to roam once more, in an effort to find my home. While surveying the land, a creeper illustrated why they were given their name. A final hiss came, but it was too late. “You died,” the game explained succinctly. Thankfully, there are second chances in Minecraft, but many lessons were learned that fateful day.
For those who have somehow never heard of Minecraft before, it is a wide open virtual world with various resources occupied by livestock and monsters, which players can shape, transform and use as their personal sandbox. There are no goals or objectives set out by the game. In Minecraft, players must simply survive using the land and their wits. Anything outside of this is simply for entertainment, creative expression or as an illustration of what players are capable of. The world is quite simply a player’s canvass, to do with it what they wish. This is liberating and quite enjoyable because it means that there is no distraction from what you want to do. Players are actively encouraged to craft their own adventure.
Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition sounds a little intimidating for newbies and, in truth, it is. With so many possibilities, where should players even start? Thankfully, for newcomers such as myself there is a tutorial, which takes players through the basic tasks and equips them with the knowledge to survive one night at least. From there, players must learn and experiment. There isn’t much handholding because, just like when you played with blocks as a child, it is about the creation of something you want and the experimentation that is important.
There are times when some more advice would be appreciated without having to consult advice online. It is not possible to simply mark a point on a map to indicate points of interest and you really have to hope that you stumble upon an interesting cavern sometimes. Unlike the Gold Rush in California, there are no hints or rumours where materials of value and use could be located. Be prepared for a lot of digging in the hope of finding something; but remember, never dig straight down.
Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition allows players to build a world and invite others to join. Players can drop-in or drop-out at any time, but they can leave a lasting impression on the world. Over Xbox Live, it would have been useful if prompts and commands were included for players playing without microphones. When one friend popped onto a level, there was a lot of slapping of a bed to tell the other to sleep, rebuilding of blocks that had been chopped down in error, and hand waving in an effort to communicate. Naturally, this issue is less prevalent in the local multiplayer, which allows up to four players to cooperate in split screen. Getting four players in the same room is always going to lead to an interesting mix of griefing, cooperation and competition. It is an excellent addition and a great way to enjoy Minecraft, especially as players of different levels of experience can help each other out.
If you find yourself getting bored it is a clear sign that you are doing it wrong. If you find yourself overwhelmed it’s natural, but with a background on PC there is an extensive set of guides, tutorials, to-do lists and tips. Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition is an excellent title that is packed full of potential. Just make sure that you can cope with that level of freedom, choice and possibility because not everybody can.