I spent a good half hour trying to work out some sort of funny, cheeky or relatively intelligent pun to centre my review title around. After a while I started to think to myself “why am I doing this, Minecraft doesn’t need a complicated, witty pun – it doesn’t have a complicated bone in its body”. So I settled for a title that was a little puntastic, but also highlighted the simplicity of Minecraft coupled with the fact that it’s a game best played with other people. But yeah, it’s fine. I know the title sucks.
I’ve been waiting for Minecraft to come to the current-gen consoles for what seems like an eternity. The game was announced as a timed exclusive launch title for the PS4, and it was supposed to be coming to the Xbox One a little while after. November came and went with not a hint of Minecraft to be found, as did 2015 and the first half of 2014. Then, almost completely out of the blue, we received news that the game was ready to be tested in mid-August. Surprisingly enough, it didn’t make the cut (as is the case with many a game that’s constantly delayed. It’s as though they’re cursed from the moment they’re pushed back). I was left slightly disappointed, because August was a dry month for video-games, but mostly because all I wanted to do was get building and immerse myself in the creative, pixelated world of Minecraft. Then, almost as sudden as when we suddenly heard news of Minecraft’s testing in August, we received news that the game would be out in the first week of September. It all seemed rather rushed, but I really didn’t care because it meant that I could finally play Minecraft on my Xbox One!
If you’re not sure what Minecraft is then I think the best comparison would be to imagine Lego, but on a massive virtual scale. If you don’t know what Lego is… Well, I’m not sure how to even process that information. When I was a kid I spent hours building things out of Lego with my Dad and Brother, and we would literally build anything that we could imagine. Though, usually, what we imagined was a house… or a spaceship. But, now that I’m bigger, older, wiser and have a far more impressive beard, I use Minecraft to re-live those feelings, to channel my creativity and create more epic structures in a virtual world. Now I’m building bigger houses and spaceships; so stuff that in your pipe and smoke it, five year old me. Thankfully, I still build these things with the help of my Brother (and occasionally my Dad through split-screen), which is one of the many reasons that I love this game. There’s so much fun to be had with Minecraft, but it’s a lot more fun if you play it with someone else.
Gameplay wise, there isn’t a huge amount different here. The game definitely runs faster, and it looks slightly more “HD”. But, when a game is just a collection of oversized pixels, you can’t expect “next-generation” graphics. No, in essence it’s still very much Minecraft (which is totally a good thing). The real changes between this generation’s and last generation’s is the size of the worlds (which are far, far bigger) and the number of players that can be in one world at any time (which has doubled from 4 to 8). Having a larger world is definitely a good thing because it gives you a much more varied universe to build in. You can also build bigger and build more, which is always welcomed. Plus, when you have double the amount of people that can build things in a world, you would want that world to be at least double the size; which it is, and then some.
More players definitely equals more fun, but it also equals more creativity. You can make bigger, more complex projects with more people and you can also gather recourses and complete those projects a lot quicker. It means that the worlds you create feel more alive because there’s a constant hustle and bustle of creative energy with random buildings spawning throughout the world almost constantly. That’s what Minecraft is all about, creativity in a shared experience – and the bigger worlds and increased number of players in those worlds really helps drive that creative flow. These are clearly changes that couldn’t have happened in the previous generation and, when you consider that the game is relatively cheap on the current-gen anyway AND that you can upgrade from the 360/PS3 version to the Xbox One/PS4 version for just £3.99, it’s definitely worth getting the new and improved Minecraft.
For me, the game is all about creativity, and the updated version really does a great job at keeping that creativity flowing. I love seeing a world bursting with ideas, whether it be giant floating logos (I built a big IM PLAYIN out of sandstone that stands fifty odd blocks off the ground), or castles, bridges, towers, cottages, statues, a replica Millennium Falcon, a football stadium, a coliseum or all of the above. Bigger worlds and more players means bigger ideas and more of them – and that’s something that really excites me as I go forward into this game.
If you’re purchasing Minecraft on the PS4 / Xbox One hoping that it’ll be different to the 360 / PS3 version, I’m afraid that you’ll be setting yourself up for disappointment. In essence, it’s the same game. What you’ll be getting for your £3.99 is the opportunity to play the game that you loved last generation, but play it bigger and better. You’re £3.99 is literally buying you more Minecraft, and it’s an absolute steal at that price. Plus, there are lots of cool new skins for both characters and worlds to keep you interested and really mix up those creative juices!