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.
Minecraft on Switch is one of the best uses to date of Nintendo's hybrid design, delivering a complete rendition of the classic game with full four-player functionality - even when undocked and gaming on the go. But its launch was marred by two factors: a lacklustre 720p resolution even when docked with your HDTV, along with noticeably jarring performance drops in split-screen mode. Developer 4J Studios promised that it would look into a full 1080p upgrade and it has duly delivered - and not only that, despite the 2.25x boost to resolution, performance in some split-screen scenarios is improved too.
The 1080p Switch upgrade is understated in 4J Studios' patch notes, hidden in a line of bug fixes. It's the only visual upgrade listed too. According to an interview with the Time website, CTO Richard Reavy says that "everything else is unchanged at present. We really just wanted to make sure jumping up the resolution wouldn't cause any problems." Indeed, at launch, Microsoft confirmed that switching resolutions on the fly between Switch's docked and undocked modes caused issues with the HUD. But on patch 1.06, clearly 4J Studios has overcome the problem, and it all just clicks together.
As you can see in the video and the comparison zoomers on this page, Minecraft's stark visual style benefits enormously from the resolution upgrade, bringing it right up to our level of expectations for the launch code - and despite compromises in other areas, it even compares fairly well with PS4's 1080p image too. Native full HD resolution pays huge dividends for anyone using a 1080p TV: we're no longer at the mercy of Switch's scaler, and users get a true 1:1 pixel match from the console. And as you'd expect, even the menu overlays run at 1080p.
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.