Still haven't played Minecraft yet? Let us explain why you really should.
Is there really anything else to be said about Minecraft? The indie phenomenon, which started life as a small experimental sandbox exploration title back in 2009, programmed and designed by a single man, has since evolved into one of the best-selling indie games of all time, with millions of players obsessed with it, and dozens of awards under its belt.
How incredible, then that the game was only just properly released in November 2011, having been in an alpha and then a beta form for over two years. If you haven't tried Minecraft yet, then you've no doubt at least heard about it, and probably already formed an opinion about it in your head. What we can tell you is this - success like this doesn't come from nothing, and Minecraft is, without a doubt, one of the most important and essential experiences you can have with video games to date.
The joy of Minecraft comes from there being absolutely no shackles whatsoever. You are dropped into a huge randomly generated world, and completely left to your own devices. There are small hints of what you can get up to, but essentially you're given no tutorials, no story and no guiding hand. Get out there and explore the world.
It quickly becomes apparent that you can break parts off this blocky world and then hold them in your inventory, or use them elsewhere. Soon you come to discover that, as part of your inventory, you can also combine items to create other more useful items, such as axes and hoes and picks. With these tools you can mine away more stubborn blocks such as stone surfaces, allowing you to dig into the heart of hills and mountains.
Then nighttime falls, and beasts begin to roam the land, looking to take a bite out of you if you get too close. Fortunately you're able to use blocks to create barricades, and then when you're feeling daring, forge a sword and armor and batter them all to death. When you're feeling even more brave, you can dig down into the core of the earth, finding underground rivers of water and lava, and secret caverns that house exciting treasures and valuable materials.
All of what we've described is only scratching the surface of what Minecraft is. You can use blocks to build huge castles and monuments, or perhaps you'd rather go on a huge journey across land and sea. You can build giant towers that spiral into the sky, or build a farm, cultivating crops and keeping livestock. You can find hidden worlds using special materials hidden deep in the earth. Play for a few dozen hours, and it's likely that you still won't have seen all Minecraft has to offer.
Multiplayer allows you to jump into a world with friends and go off on adventures together, creating an experience that is potentially endless fun. Experience points and achievements allow you to build your character up and feel like you're growing into a hero for the ages. And all the while, the Minecraft team is working on new updates that will bring even more lovely content to the game in the future.
There is one caveat to all this - creativity. Some of us are born with a desire to mold things and enjoy spending hours of our time building visions that have before that moment been trapped in our heads. Others of us aren't so excited to put blocks together and build a house, or simply don't have a creative bone in our bodies.
And that's where Minecraft players will be separated into those who can play for hundreds of hours and not even notice the time go by, and those people who will pick it up, walk around for a few hours, and decide it isn't for them.
Even if you are one of the latter, it's still worth taking Minecraft for a spin just to experience what all the fuss is about. Minecraft is already breeding a whole new genre of game, and has no doubt helped change the course of games for years to come. If you have yet to try it out, it really is about time you did so.
- The ultimate sandbox experience. Dozens of hours of potential play. So many secrets to be found. Fantastic multiplayer.
- If you’re not a very creative person, you may get bored after a short while.