Since May 2009, Minecraft has chugged along in what’s possibly the longest and most open public beta ever in the history of video games, and some big changes are starting to take place. Creator Markus “Notch” Persson has said in the past that he eventually wanted to move the game past a perpetual sandbox state, and implement some sort of larger goal for players to pursue. Something beyond making neat structures, with a method of keeping score, so that there’s more to the Minecraft experience than just surviving.
Enter the 1.8 Adventure Update. After an early version was leaked by developer Mojang, we got our hands on it and spent some time exploring the new features. And if you haven't yet grabbed it for yourself to see what's new (or are just curious about what might be in store for November's XBLA version), we can tell you that shit’s about to get real.
Above: The opening screen is fancier than ever
Initially, the entire Adventure update was supposed to be in the 1.8 version, but the changes are apparently big enough that Mojang is releasing half of the additions in 1.8, and the rest in 1.9. In any case, create a new area in Survival Mode, and you’ll immediately see some changes. Namely, you’ll now have an experience gauge above your tool bar, and a hunger gauge to the right of the health bar:
The experience fills up as you kill random creatures and collect the shiny green balls that drop from their corpses. Unfortunately, it seems the level-up system hasn’t really been implemented yet; when you fill up the bar, it simply resets to zero. This sucks, because the gauge makes it feel like there really should be stat upgrades or something, but instead it just sits there, mocking your impotent block-busting.
ABOVE: It haunts us still
The hunger gauge adds a new dimension to survival mode, though. Instead of replenishing your health bar directly, food now boosts your hunger gauge. Keep your hunger gauge at eight hunks of meat or higher, and you’ll passively regenerate health. If the gauge depletes, however, you start to slowly lose health.
Because you now need food more than ever, chickens, sheep and cows will also drop meat. Chicken meat is the least filling, and a beef steak is the most filling, with pork and mutton sitting right in the middle. Cooking food in a furnace makes it more filling. Eating raw beef and pork works all right, but eating raw chicken carries the possibility of making your character sick, filling your hunger but depleting health for a while. So it’s official: Mojang has made the first game in which you can get salmonella.
Above: This is a good idea!
Above: No it wasn’t (note greenish tinge in the hunger meter)
In addition to the above changes, there’s also a wealth of new features in the terrain. The land now randomly spawns ravines, large gouges in the earth that go very deep and often reveal abandoned mine shafts (which we’ll get to in a bit).
Above: They stand out a fair bit
Above: Well, this is a good head start to a mine
Another big addition: Strongholds, which are super-dungeons that only spawn three times per map. After considerable searching, we were able to find the entrance to one of these massive complexes. You can spot these because they’re fully crafted spiral staircases that you sure as hell didn’t make.
Above: Into the breach, we descended…
…to discover the ruins of an ancient civilization
The stronghold we found had seen better days. Many blocks seemed missing, and some areas were flooding.
This particular stronghold was also an abandoned mineshaft – another new addition to the game. These are the ruins of where other miners have supposedly tried to ply their trade, and met a sudden end. We found many abandoned chests and mine cart tracks, meaning somebody really dug in deep here.
Above: They must have dug too greedily, and also too deep
Apparently, their aims weren’t entirely mine-related, because we also stumbled across a dusty, cobwebbed library.
When faced with such a treasure trove of information, we wondered what to do. You can’t read the books on the shelves, or take them to sell, or anything really practical. So, as per usual, we resorted to destruction.
Above: Some men just want to watch the world burn