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MineCraft Hot Takes

I really really like MineCraft. Also, I hate it.
Everyone and their very cubular mother has a thousand opinions on MineCraft, what the best way to play it is, and what's wrong with it. I also do.

I started playing MineCraft in 2011. I was in middle school, and after becoming fascinated by the game from YouTube videos, I acquired a copy of MineCraft just after Beta 1.7.2 released. I played quite a bit of it at the time, and I've played it for hours at a time at least yearly ever since. For most of my life, I didn't think terribly hard about MineCraft. Most people don't, frankly. It's an undeniably genius game. However, as time passes, more and more people face the same dilemma I do: the game doesn't feel as enrapturing as it once did. Something was off. As the version number increased, my interest in the game waned.

If you've watched a single gaming video on YouTube in the past year, you've probably been recommended a few "what went wrong" or "best Beta-style mod" videos about MineCraft. There is a considerable chunk of the playerbase who truly believe that over time, the developers of MineCraft made choices that have worsened the gameplay loop. After a couple dozen hours sunken in the Better Than Adventure mod, I've found I have some criticisms of my own.

The following opinions are not really recommendations for how the game should change. MineCraft is still the best selling game of all time, clearly they're doing something right. This is just a selection of thoughts regarding how the game has changed, my memories of it, and what I think has caused me personally to not enjoy it as much as in the past. Note that I have not spent a large amount of time in the newest versions of MineCraft, there is a lot of content I don't know about and perhaps some of these issues have been somewhat addressed.

The following thoughts are not in any particular order. Also, these takes might not even be that hot. I just didn't know what else to call this page.

Long preamble over.

Sprinting is bad

This is one of the more common criticisms of MineCraft recently, so I'll keep it short. Sprinting forces the player to hurry everywhere. Sprinting makes the ever-present hunger meter deplete faster. Sprinting makes creepers obsolete.

Hunting for food sucks

Hunting for food in the early game is miserable. In the past, MineCraft gave you an open world, with a variety of choices on how to progress. The player has ten minutes they can use to gather resources, search for a safe location to set up base, find a cave to start early mining, look for a certain biome. In modern MineCraft, there is one very pressing issue that overtakes all of them: find food. Nothing is as important as finding food. Without food, your health stops regenerating and will eventually start draining, and you lose the ability to sprint. When I play MineCraft nowadays, I actually ignore food for the most part during the beginning, as I just find the mechanic so uninteresting. Not to mention, killing animals for food has diminishing returns, as animals have extremely low respawn rates. This can result in a complete scarcity of animals surrounding a player's base, and I recall several playthroughs requiring half an hour or longer of hunting for a specific type of animal, only to have to drag them by leads for an even longer period of time back to my base so I have access to food.

This actually leads me to my next point.

Food becomes obsolete (and also farming sucks and breeding sucks)

Food in the early game of MineCraft is an annoyance that can be addressed. Food in the late game of MineCraft is an annoyance that never goes away.
There's an excellent video of the game Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes, in which three people defuse a bomb created by the funniest terrorist in the world. The video, linked here, features the Centurion, a bomb with one hundred modules representing different puzzles. It's an hour and a half, it's tense and extremely rewarding, and it (along with speedrunning) represents what I consider proof of human ingenuity in the face of completely arbitrary and self-imposed obstacles. I bring it up because the Centurion has a needy module, meaning that one of the modules, instead of a regular solvable puzzle, requires a simple input every minute or so to prevent the bomb exploding. So every minute, along with taking care of everything else, the defuser has to come back to the needy module.

Likewise, in MineCraft, food has become not a tool for preventing death through healing, but a constant necessity, a leaky bandage on a never-healing wound. The only problem is you can never solve this bomb. The bomb is your life.

The difficulty is not getting food anymore. By about two hours of gameplay, you will have some kind of trustworthy supply of food, be it farming crops or breeding animals (which also requires crops). The problem is that both those things are not fun.

This is not to say farming used to be fun, it sucked back in the day too. Putting crops down and waiting for them to grow, or using bone meal to speed up the process, is not a super immersive and rewarding gameplay loop. It's tedious and takes almost no input. Getting animals to breed takes forever when you only have a couple, and then becomes piss-easy once you have like ten or so.

I don't dislike breeding as a concept, the baby animals are great and I like the hearts. It's just that breeding animals to get supplies is tedious.

Hunting pigs for food used to not be a hassle, because pigs would respawn regularly, you really only needed three pork chops in your inventory at a time, and it wasn't even required if you preferred farming or just lived on the edge. Plus, it was more rewarding because food was a huge improvement to your survivability. Food kept you alive for much longer while exploring and caving. Now, the game will literally cause damage to you if you don't always have food on you.

Plus, the change to give every animal a unique meat was a mistake. In the past, every animal had a distinct purpose. Pigs gave meat, chickens gave feathers for arrows, cows gave leather for books and armor that nobody made, and sheep gave wool for making one bed and then nothing else. Okay, it wasn't perfect, but the idea was there. Every animal filled a different role, so you would have to hunt for different ones at different times. Now, it's just cows. Breed cows. Steaks fill just as much as pork chops, and they drop leather for books for enchanting. Breed the other ones if you feel fancy, but basically just breed cows.

Also fishing sucks. Please stop putting fishing in every video game.

Wild grass is ugly

This is a very personal opinion, but I think wild grass looks like wild ass. It's tacky and adds so much visual noise to landscapes. I don't dislike the concept, and I think ripping up wild grass as a means of getting seeds makes so much more sense than using a hoe on random spots on the ground. But still, it's hideous.

Quake Pro is the best FOV and it's silly that they make a joke about it

I'm actually not that good at Quake. That said, I love 110 FOV. It's my baseline for whether a game is actually made for PC properly or not. Every video game needs to have an FOV slider that goes to 110. (Actually, it should probably go higher, because it's an artificial limitation and more options only makes more people happier). I think it's silly that the game still makes a joke about using 110 FOV, because as time has progressed, default FOV has only increased.
Then again, I also like motion blur in games, so I might be full of shit on this one.

Ravines suck

Ravines were a huge addition to MineCraft at the time. Suddenly, cave generation had a whole new tool for making even more exciting systems. Unfortunately, they didn't account for one problem: every single ravine in MineCraft looks exactly the same. The only difference is whether the bottom is a giant lava lake or not. The developers of MineCraft apparently have had a longstanding difficulty with cave generation, based on the following point.

Caves in 1.18 onward suck

I've seen other people agree on this point, which is good because I feel like it's the most blatant issue I've talked about so far. I tried a small amount of 1.20 to get a feel for what current day MineCraft is like, as I hadn't played the newest version for a while. Holy shit, the amount of caves, and the size of them, is completely insane. Caves are giant, they're all over the damn place, and they all look like they were created with some kind of mystical scythe of terraforming rather than cave generation. It looks like every MineCraft world was hit by the claws of an elder god. It's absurd.

Beds suck

This is one of the longest-standing issues in MineCraft in my opinion, and one that even predates the beloved Beta 1.7.3 version. Beds, I feel, are the first feature representing MineCraft being at odds with itself. MineCraft is a survival game, and one of its main features is a day/night cycle. At night, creatures will appear to attack you, so it is vital to find shelter, be it a house, well-lit cave, or cramped hole in the ground.

Beds completely undo this feature. Don't want to deal with the day-night cycle and the roaming monsters? Just go to sleep!

I have no objection to the ability to change spawn point. In fact, that's a very valuable and fair reward to the player. It's a massive benefit to guarantee safety on respawning and possibly to be closer to where you died, and it's balanced by the fact that you can only respawn in a location you've secured, and that it doesn't reduce the more tangible punishment of losing items on dying.

However, for the measly price of three wool and three wooden planks, you can not only have a new spawn point, but skip every single night in perpetuity. You never have to defend yourself at nighttime again. You never have to fortify your base to prevent sudden attacks from monsters.

Many, many players have fond memories of their first night in MineCraft. Scared, alone, confused. Maybe they came in with some information about how to progress, but never with the skillset to defend themselves. Something about this experience captured the imaginations of millions. What kind of world are they in? How can they make it safer? What can they do to make it their own?

And now, millions of people play their first night of MineCraft, and either some YouTube video or else the in-game guide informs them to make a bed to skip the night. They can fight mobs whenever they want! This world is already theirs! They control time itself, from the moment they kill a sheep.

And then there's phantoms. A mob that spawns if you haven't slept in three days. A mob that attacks from the sky. One of the most annoying mobs in the game, one of the most hated by the playerbase by far, and its sole purpose is to punish you for not interacting with one of the most uninspired, least appropriate mechanics in the game.

Villages make the game easy for babies

Maybe someday I will be able to form an opinion on the villagers. Are they funny? Annoying? Out of place? A fun addition?

Doesn't matter. This isn't about them. This is about their stupid houses.

Villages make the beginning part of the game so easy. Like, stupid easy. If you start next to a village, you just saved yourself about half an hour of the first section of the game, possibly more. It's to the point that multiple MineCraft speedrun categories are centered around villages, because they save so much time, and in turn, reduce so much gameplay. Most villages come with a bed (see above), but even failing that, the torch posts provide wool for making one yourself. Several chests appear throughout the village to give supplies. One of the houses can be commandeered as a base. Blacksmiths can spawn with diamonds, skipping hours of gameplay necessary to find them. Most villages will have multiple farms, which can be raided for a fast meal or maintained for easy access to a perpetual food source. Iron golems often spawn near villages, giving the player an easy defense against mobs early-game.

Let's talk about seeds. MineCraft has always had a sub-community around sharing and trying out different world seeds. During Beta, this was entirely based on the coolest world generation. "Glacier" and "gargamel" became known and cherished names, for creating some of the most awe-inspiring virtual landscapes players had ever seen. In contrast, for a very long period after the 1.0 release, shared seeds were instead centered around generated structures. Villages and strongholds and mineshafts, then desert temples and jungle pyramids, then woodland mansions. The community had spoken: they wanted to see the new buildings and get treasure fast. They wanted to fast-track to the cool stuff.

It seems like nowadays, there's about half and half regarding seeds with cool world generation and seeds with a bunch of structures near spawn. It probably helps that several updates in the past couple years have focused on world generation.

I understand the intention behind villages. It was meant to be another fun structure for players to stumble across, to add some flair to the world, and give them some rewards for adventuring. However, for how common they are, they provide far too much in the way of resources, to the point that even as I criticize them, I still hunt for a village on the first day every playthrough. Not having to worry about food or shelter on the first day is simply too powerful to not take advantage of.

This is not a condemnation of speedrunning or seed-sharing communities; both those are totally valid ways to play the game and I do not begrudge them their enjoyment of the game whatsoever. But as a casual player who wants a consistent experience, starting the game with vs without a village is such a disparity that it makes choosing to start without one simply a bad choice comparitively.

Also, I should bring up superflat worlds. In superflat worlds, villages are actually the only way to get materials at all. In those circumstances, I actually find them really fun. Superflat is such a different playstyle, though, so the game probably shouldn't be balanced around those.

The problem with world generation is that biomes suck

Another reason I brought up seed-sharing communities in the last point is to talk about world generation. One of the most common criticisms of modern MineCraft is that the world generation isn't as good as it used to be. Things aren't exciting enough, the old world generator just made things look better. I'm here to tell you the real problem. The problem is that biomes suck.

Okay that's generalizing. Let's break it down.

A very long time ago, during the development of Beta 1.8, Notch tweeted that he reduced the world generation from several hundred lines of code down to just one:


This is how I remember it, I have not been able to find that tweet. But it sticks out in my mind because I acutely remember thinking, "that's kind of a silly thing to say, because we don't know how many lines the GenerateBiome function is." Now, I remember it as the day that MineCraft's old world generation died. No longer did generation create these complex, otherworldly landscapes with hanging cliffs and coves and valleys. Now, world generation creates a map of biomes with extremely clean edges, and then makes the biomes look like they're supposed to. Throw some noise on it to make it look correct, and there you have it.

Some of my fondest experiences in modern MineCraft is exploring the Nether. Nether Fortresses are a cool-ass structure that come at a very good point in the game progression, they provide access to new materials and mechanics, they feature multiple enemies unique to them (okay not completely unique but they spawn there way more often than elsewhere). But also, world generation in the Nether is just super cool. One giant massive cave with several smaller caves throughout, ledges and valleys and hills. The Nether is basically one giant biome, so it has to look super diverse to be interesting and to give players visual landmarks. (The Nether technically has biomes now, but they're kind of lame and they're pretty small so I tend to ignore them).

The Nether does what every overworld biome in MineCraft is afraid to do: look unique. I could show you five pictures of Beta 1.7 worlds, and then show you a sixth one, and you would be able to tell me if it was one of the first five pictures. I could not do that with modern MineCraft. Note that this is a problem I also have with a lot of terrain generation mods too; adding more biomes doesn't add replayability or diversity if those biomes look the same in every world. As far as I can tell, the Cliffs and Caves update did not actually address this issue whatsoever, as giant swathes of the landscape were extremely flat and covered in perfectly spaced trees.

I remember the huge hubbub about when the jungle biome was added to the game. New trees! Vines! Cocoa pods! And now, I can remember every time I've ever spawned in a jungle biome, and immediately left because they're annoying to navigate and don't provide anything useful.

So to be clear: the problem is not biomes as an idea. I, like most people, want diversity in MineCraft worlds. The problem is that the diversity is all fake. Every mesa and desert and forest and birch forest and flower forest and dark forest and snowy forest looks exactly the same as each other instance of itself. There are still seeds shared around that have very cool world generation, but those are unfortunately the exception and not the rule.

Also, swamps are the ugliest biome by far. I love swamps in real life. They're gorgeous. And MineCraft does not do them justice.

On another note, anyone remember 404? The seed where there was a giant gravel beach over a big cave system, and someone came up with a challenge where you make the gravel fall and then try to survive without leaving the cave after the first day? That was both a great representation of what you could get out of MineCraft's world generation, and also a condemnation of the kind of variety you can get out of modern world generation. Seriously, when was the last time anyone made a challenge based on how cool a MineCraft seed was? I mean, besides the seed used for set-seed speedruns.

Ocelots and Cats

I really do not understand why they changed ocelots to be separate to cats. Firstly, it creates a disparity between those and how wolves can be tamed like dogs. Second, it means ocelots are now pointless.

New content and the growth imperative

This one's gonna get real dense, sorry in advance.

One of the oft discussed issues in modern capitalism is infinite growth; the idea that all businesses to survive must get larger, have more money, provide more services, hire more people. Because of the profit motive, it's an inevitable outcome. Companies with more money are less likely to collapse and can survive more difficult circumstances than those with less money. This means that companies are incentivized to make more money just as a survival benefit, let alone the many rewards that come with a lot of money. All of this to say, MineCraft is made by Mojang which is owned by Microsoft. It is extremely easy to make money if you have the financial backing of Microsoft and are working on the most popular game ever made. Making a couple major updates a year keeps the hype train rolling. So making a couple major updates a year is what's going to happen.

Enough abstract, let's get concrete. In Beta 1.7, there were essentially three major utility blocks. The Crafting Table, the Chest, and the Furnace. One turned ores into materials for crafting, one held items, and one did crafting. It was a very simple setup. In current day MineCraft, there's the Crafting Table, the Chest, the Furnace, the Anvil, the Brewing Stand, the Cartography Table, the Enchanting Table, the Fletching Table, the Loom, the Smithing Table, and the Stonecutter. As well, there's blocks like the Barrel, the Grindstone, the Lectern, the Shulker Box, the Ender Chest, the Blast Furnace, the Smoker, and the Chiseled Bookshelf, which all perform actions similar to or replicable by other utility blocks.

That's too god damn many.

Let's focus on one example. Repairing items. There's currently four different ways to repair items in MineCraft. The first is by using an anvil with the item to be repaired, and some of the material used to craft that item, with each unit of material repairing 25% of the item's max durability and costing one experience level per unit. The second is using an anvil to combine two damaged items of the same type, costing two experience levels and combining the two input items' durabilities plus 12 percent of the items' max durability. Both anvil methods are also susceptible to the "anvil use penalty", which causes the experience level cost for anvil actions on a particular item to increase to the point of becoming unusable. The third is to use a grindstone, which combines two damaged items of the same type, combining the two items' durabilities plus 5 percent of the items' max durabilities. The last is to combine the items in the crafting grid, which behaves the exact same as the grindstone. That's four different methods of accomplishing this task, all of which using a utility that does other things as well.

This is my fundamental problem with modern MineCraft. The game constantly attempts to add new "features", which are either redundant ways of doing effectively the same thing, or else add a small amount of content that doesn't justify the effort needed to experience it. Repairing armor and tools in the crafting grid is brilliant; it's a new usage of familiar tools. Repairing stuff in a grindstone is inane; it works exactly the same as the crafting grid, except requires a utility block that has to be crafted separately.

I don't actually have a problem with the anvil in principle. It actually has a lot of uses outside repairing that I like, plus the addition of repairing using materials is cool, though I wish that was also in the crafting grid instead. My issue is that the grindstone represents the worst of many, many additions to MineCraft that leave me asking, "when will I ever use this?" Things like fireworks, pottery, lodestones, armor trims, about half the potions and enchantments, armor stands, goat horns, banners, beacons, pistons, tripwire, tinted glass, plant pots, cake, cauldrons, most redstone stuff. Just a longer and longer list of things that, for me, don't add anything to the actual gameplay experience. As I wrote that list, I realize just how much does not apply to me as a player. That's not to say anything I've just listed are bad additions for every player, it's just that as I look through the list of items and blocks and mobs added to MineCraft, the more I feel like I'm just not the target audience of the game anymore. I don't know who is, but I hope they enjoy it.


Yes, I capitalize the C in MineCraft. I know it's not correct, I don't know when I started doing that, and I won't stop now.

Random Notes

Why did they rename Workbench to Crafting Table? I don't even have a strong opinion about the change, I just really want to know. Maybe so that it was more obvious that the Crafting Table is such a central part of MineCraft.

To counteract the whole sprint fiasco, I will say that sneaking is actually awesome. It was an incredible insight from Hatsune Miku to add something that allows looking over edges safely and building bridges without risk of falling. I use it constantly, plus it gives MineCraft the beloved "sneak-unsneak" communication method that, like kill-binding in TF2, can communicate a wide spectrum of messages.

I've never fought a warden, or been to an end city, or fought the wither, or fought a guardian, or killed the revamped ender dragon, or done a village raid, or been inside a woodland mansion. Just saying this for context about how much new content I've missed. Frankly, I don't think any of this affects whether my opinions are valid, and nothing I've said should require knowledge of these things.

If you disagree with me on all these points and you think MineCraft is better than it's ever been, well...
I do not enjoy continually thinking about how much I want one of my favorite games to change while I'm playing it. How much it doesn't satisfy me. If you really love how the game is right now, don't argue with me. Just go play it. You have something I don't.