When Microsoft announced Minecraft's Better Together update, fans cheered. Minecraft feels built for cross-network play. It's the world's biggest family game, an experience designed with collaborative play in mind, and now truly open to everyone regardless of device (except PlayStation).
At least, that's how it seemed. Sadly, the edition which has arrived on console is not quite what fans had envisioned.
Microsoft never did a great job of communicating the fact its Better Together Update is not actually an update for console owners. It's a completely different game - one which is almost identical to Minecraft's previous Pocket Edition for mobiles.
Do you remember your first adventures in Minecraft? I do. I was mostly confused. For much of its history, Minecraft hasn't done much to help you understand how to play it, how to craft things, what these crafted things do, and why you'd want them. It doesn't tell you about the alternate dimensions that you can visit, or about how you get to them. It doesn't tell you why should should play or what you're aiming for.
What happens when you go up against Minecraft? What happens when you dare suggest gaming's golden child not belong in the classroom, then call it "a gimmick", then say "we need to drain the swamp of gimmicks"? It does not involve being sent nice flowers I'll tell you that.
Still mourning over the loss of Silent Hills in between checking whether the PT demo is still playable on your console or not? Good news - even if PT's scares have been relegated to the history books, there's still a way to experience that infamous 'L' shaped corridor without forking out a couple of grand for a pre-installed PS4 on Ebay. Ian's hunted down a fan-made homage in Minecraft, and it's surprisingly eerie. It also contains squids, so there's that. Enjoy!
Traditional MMOs have gone out of fashion lately. It used to be that every gaming brand had exciting untapped MMO potential and every publisher wanted an MMO in its stable, but the gold rush inspired by World of Warcraft yielded little precious metal, and a lot of publishers got burned in the process - especially Electronic Arts with Star Wars: The Old Republic - while the term "MMO" has become taboo when discussing a new breed of games that includes The Division and Destiny, even though in many respects they are both massively multiplayer and online.
Every week we bring you an article from our archive, either for you to read again or discover for the first time. This week, with news circling of Microsoft buying Mojang, we bring you a reminder of the power of Minecraft via Keith Stuart's excellent article, first published in November 2012.
Imagine being eight years old today. You pack your bag, hop on a bus, act like your crush has cooties and go through lessons on history, English, maths, science, and... Minecraft?
I'd finished my interview with Tom Cassell, and it had gone fairly well. Although, something did feel like it was missing. "Would you mind if I walked with you for a bit?" I asked. "So I can see it happen?" Tom was enthusiastic - he is about most things. So we took to the floor of the Eurogamer Expo.
Yes, that's right, MineZ is a mod of a mod. It's a zombie survival mod for Minecraft that is inspired by DayZ, the zombie survival mod for ArmA 2. It's the same but different, recognisable but re-imagined. It's a little like looking at a reflection in a carnival's hall of mirrors. MineZ still feels like DayZ, it works like DayZ and it plays like DayZ, but most importantly...
I had a friend who had synaesthesia. Sounds would form a iridescent fog over her vision, with different sounds creating different colours, and multiple sounds layering over one another; blue could be shot through with silver, or pockets of red would flare in a brown malaise. Most of the time, she said it was actually quite pleasant, as though she was seeing an extra layer to sound that was unique to her. Most of the time, it made her feel special.
Sometimes, when there was too much sound, or too many that conflicted, it would overwhelm. It would make it difficult to see, and difficult to think, with this violent storm of colour covering everything. It was only at those times that she ever claimed to 'suffer' from synaesthesia.
Proteus, a procedural exploration game by Ed Key, doesn't let you see what you hear. It lets you hear what you see.
Following the media trajectory of this free-form building and survival game has almost been more compulsive than Minecraft itself. Watching that slow burn from lo-fi obscurity to darling of indie sites to mainstream PC gaming acceptance to woah-hey-everywhere has been an ambient pastime for 2010. That was before the game even hit beta status.
There are two stories to be told about Minecraft. One of them is the tale of a man working alone to create something truly extraordinary from humble beginnings, working piece by piece to painstakingly construct an original masterwork. The other story? The other story is, at heart, the same.