This bizarrely cuboid but nonetheless gripping open-world building game started small but went on to become one of the hugest games on the planet. Unlike other games popular with kids, Minecraft is actually pretty fun in a laid-back, low-fi kind of way, so if you’re an adult, don’t be afraid to give it a whirl.
A creative game popular with and suitable for both children and adults alike
Boxy fun that adds up to more than the parts of the whole
The first time you see Minecraft, it can be a little surprising. By modern game standards, it’s weird. Like, really weird. With blocky, cuboid cows and little people with square heads, it takes a little time playing to see where the charm is. Keep playing though, because as millions of Minecraft players will testify (as well as Microsoft, who bought the company for $2.5 billion), there’s a lot more to this game than meets the eye.
The aim of the game is nothing other than to wander around it. There are two modes - Survival and Creative. In Survival mode, there are dangers that you’ll have to face and overcome: monsters like skeletons and zombies roam around, especially after dark. You can also face death from the normal things that would kill you, such as falls and drowning. As you start the game with nothing, it will be up to you to find shelter and make weapons, which you do by scavenging in your surroundings. As you progress in the game, you’ll discover that you can combine things to make new items, and sometimes find items that are rarer than others.
If surviving seems like too much effort, you can also try Creative mode. In many ways, it’s exactly the same as Survival mode - the only difference is that nothing is trying to attack you and the usual rules surrounding death and danger don’t apply. The aim in this mode is more to see what you can discover and build, well, whatever you want really - you’re only limited by your imagination.
Getting started in Minecraft is relatively easy. You’ll need a Mojang account and you’ll download the Mojang installer. From there, you’ll pay for Minecraft, and then download the game. It offers both single and multiplayer mode, as well as a pay-for feature called Minecraft Realms, which are closed servers that allow you to play online with your friends. When playing offline in single-player mode, you don’t interact with other players, whereas in multiplayer, you do.
If you do choose to play multiplayer, you have several options. One is the Realms option, discussed above. You can also play locally, via LAN, there’s a split-screen mode if you’re playing on a console or, finally, you can connect to the Minecraft servers and play with other people online. As befits such a hands-on game, you’ll be able to tweak any settings you need - and quite a few you didn’t know you need - in the options.
The whole Minecraft universe and gameplay can actually get quite complex, although there’s no need to jump into that side of it from the get-go. There are vast amounts of help, discussion, and opinion about the game online, as well as multiple wikis and video tutorials. Mojang also offers a good Help Center and is open to queries on social networks. Ultimately, however, the only way you’re going to get to grips with Minecraft is through experience, so get playing soon!
Where can you run this program?
Minecraft is available for a wide variety of platforms, including Linux, Mac, Nintendo Switch, Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation, PlayStation Vita, Windows, and Xbox. This version is for Windows.
Is there a better alternative?
As ever, since Minecraft is a game, “better” is pretty subjective. In general terms, there are probably games that would get better ratings, but if it’s Minecraft you want to play, you’re going to want the real thing. Similar sandbox games have popped up over time, but none of them have taken off in the same way as the original.
Minecraft is a solid, time-honored game that, while not to everyone’s taste, does try to offer something for everyone. Visually it can be a little strange and the gameplay mechanics can take a while to get used to, but many people find the survival/building premise pretty irresistible and we’re sure it’s pulled in more than one person who really didn’t think they’d want anything to do with it. If you’re looking for a new gaming challenge and you’re thinking about Minecraft, jump in. The trial will give you the taste you need to know if it’s the game for you.
Should you download it?
Yes. It’s a fun game in a very traditional sense of the word. If slick and cool are the things that matter to you, it’s likely to be a little lacking, but everyone else will be able to ignore that and get down to having a grand old time.