There are two things I’m mostly excited for in the gaming world that will be releasing within the next week. The first is Pokemon Red, Blue and Yellow releasing onto the 3DS eShop. (Bulbasaur REPRESENT.) The second is Minecraft 1.9, the first major update to the game since September 2, 2014. The Pokemon games hit on the 27th and Minecraft 1.9 is set to be released on the 29th, and since I’m an impatient bastard I went ahead and downloaded the pre-release version of the latter.
I’ve mentioned Minecraft briefly on this blog before, in my list of personal favourite videogames of all time. It sat at the bottom as an honorable mention, the reason being that “I don’t really consider Minecraft as a game so much as a creative platform for games. Sure, there’s the base survival gameplay, but I wouldn’t put that on my top ten due to lack of content.” And has that changed with 1.9? Well, no. Mostly because the enjoyability of vanilla Minecraft depends on two things: whether you’re playing with friends, and whether you have a good imagination and the attention span to carry out your ideas.
1.9, however, is quite the large update, most notably to combat. So without further ado, I launched the pre-release, created a new world and jumped in. And what did I find?
Well, diamonds, actually, and within the first few minutes. This ended up being a vein of eight, which I had to return to mine after I’d found some iron.
But other than that, you may notice that I’m holding torches in my left hand. That’s the new offhand feature, used primarily for quick torch placement or the use of a shield, and switching out what you’re holding is actually less hassle than it seems when you get used to it. (If you press F, you switch what you’re holding with your offhand. I find that sandwiching a shield / torch between a sword and pickaxe allows for speedy switching between pickaxe-and-torch or sword-and-shield.) Combat now has more to it than simply spam-clicking with your sword; you must wait for it to recharge to achieve optimal damage output, and if you go up against a skeleton without generous employment of your shield, you can kiss your blocky ass goodbye.
Whilst some may mourn the ability to go up against hordes of enemies with ease, I welcome it. Not since my first delving into the game have I felt such unease at dusk, or felt the need to check behind me so often whilst spelunking. Open cave systems are now daunting as much as they are enticing. I’m enjoying single-player survival more than I have in months. It also helps that I spawned into a rather wonderful starting area, with plentiful coal, trees and greenery, and I must say I’ve been rather lucky with diamonds, too. If anyone’s interested, the seed is simply ‘1.9’, though I can’t say as to whether this will change what’s generated by release.
I’d like to emphasise, though, that finding a good, medium-sized, vanilla server will work wonders for your Minecraft experience. Even if you’re not directly playing with others, simply sharing a world with them and talking as you play can eradicate the feeling of hollowness from the world. I play on a server which has a nice little economy system going on and allows you two personal teleport locations, one of which I share with my friend when we play together. When 1.9 releases on the 29th, I’ll probably go back to playing there, especially as we’ll be resetting the world (alongside most other servers, I expect).