With Minecraft’s biggest update yet on the way, we investigate everything you need to know and explain just how it will change the game
Minecraft is one of those games that you’ll always end up coming back to, even if you’ve had a break for a few years. Its open, creative nature means it’s different every time you play it, but for console players it’s lacked the flexibility of other versions, with no way to try out all the exciting mods and servers available to PC players. But that’s all going to change with the Better Together update out this autumn. Promising crossplay with mobile, Windows 10 and Nintendo Switch, as well as external servers and a busy marketplace, the marvelous world of Minecraft is about to open up considerably.
So how is all of this going to happen? How do you make so many different versions of the game play nicely together? By changing it all to one single version, of course. When the update rolls out, the console version will completely change and become the same version as the Pocket and Windows 10 Editions. Don’t worry, all the worlds you worked on will still be there, and you’ll be able to play them in this new version, except now you’ll get to enjoy all of the extras they’ve had for ages, including stained glass and infinite worlds. That’s right, no longer will you be confined by the edges of your map: The world you’re in will just keep generating out in front of you.
What about the battle and glide minigames? Well, that’s a bit more complicated— you’ll still be able to access them from the old launcher, but the hope is that with all of the new worlds and servers that will become available on the marketplace, you’ll be able to play versions of them on there instead, along with a whole heap of other new games to experiment with. You’ll have access to a far greater range of things to do with your blocky friend going forwards, all easily accessible, and with loads more being added all of the time. You’ll even be able to share your purchases across versions—so, for example, if you bought the Adventure Time texture pack on Xbox One, it’ll also be unlocked to use in the mobile version. Although the Halo pack is an exception—that one will be locked to Xbox consoles only.
It does get a bit tricky when it comes to add-ons, though—these tools let Pocket and Windows 10 edition owners reprogram things like mobs to behave as they please to help them make in-depth creations of their own. Because of the hardware you won’t be able to make these on Xbox One, however you will be able to see them and use them if they’re part of other worlds or servers, so you won’t totally miss out.
New ways to play
In the original PC version (now known as Java edition), you can join all sorts of servers and add mods as you please, but you have to dig around in your files to do so and mess around with things like IP addresses—plus, you’ll often will end up running into issues. The Better Together updates are aiming to take that flexibility and make it easier and safer for Xbox owners to enjoy the custom servers Java edition users have had for a while now. From launch, several servers will be available to join directly from the game’s menu.
To start with, Mojang will be working with Lifeboat, Cubecraft, InPvP, and Mineplex to bring approved servers to everyone. As well as providing fun new ways to play Minecraft, they’ve also been vetted by the developers and more closely moderated to make sure any younger players are completely safe. Because they’re all working so closely with Mojang, it should also mean they’ll be more stable and updated more frequently.
You can submit your own servers, but they’ll have to make it through a strict checking process to make sure they’re up to scratch. If you’re just looking for a small space to play with your mates then Realms will also be available to Xbox One players for the first time. It’s essentially a way to rent your own private server for a small fee—all of the background running of it is taken care for you, so you can just have fun with friends.
“If you own Minecraft on disc you’ll have to have played the game for at least five hours in the past year”
All of these extras are available through the Microsoft marketplace—a shop within the game that lets you buy skins, worlds, texture packs and more with Minecraft Coins. You pay for Coins with your real money and use those to buy from the marketplace itself—by using its own currency, it ensures the costs are kept the same no matter if you’re playing on Xbox or even on a Switch.
How do you get it?
Everyone who plays Minecraft will now need to have an Xbox Live login to make sure all of your details are tied to you no matter which platform you play on—which won’t be a problem for OXM readers, of course. Likewise, if you want to play online on Xbox One or Nintendo Switch you’ll still have to pay for the consoles’ online services—although those on Windows 10 and Mobile don’t. It’s a frustrating decision, but those costs are related to the hardware you choose to play on rather than the game itself, so you will have to shell out for Xbox Live Gold to play with your friends, if you haven’t already.
Also, if you own Minecraft on a disc, you’ll have to have played the game for at least five hours in the past year for it to eventually upgrade to the updated version. If you’ve downloaded it already then you don’t need to worry, everything will be ready to go once the update hits in November.
While there’s still a while to wait for the full release you can access the beta version to check it out on your Xbox One. Simply download the Insider Program app and navigate to the Insider content hub where you’ll find the beta to download. A lot of the content is being tested in waves; at the time of writing the Marketplace and Servers weren’t available, but will be added later.
Because this is such a massive update there’s tons of info here to digest, but what does it all mean for the future of Minecraft as we know it? With (almost) everyone now on the same platform, future content updates that add blocks or new mobs will now hit everyone that much faster, and will hopefully happen far more frequently as there are fewer versions of the game to deal with. After Xbox One owners have had to deal with being left behind for so long, this feels like a huge step forward and we can’t wait to play better together.
Top Parrots make their debut on Xbox One.
Right Servers will be playable at release.