How To Survive In Minecraft

My snazzy two story dirt shelter complete with floor to ceiling glass windows and state of the art wooden door.
My snazzy two story dirt shelter complete with floor to ceiling glass windows and state of the art wooden door.

Minecraft is one of the hottest new games on the PC market right now, in spite of having graphics that would have been shameful in 1994. To the utter joy of gamers who have been saying for years now that graphics don't make a game, Minecraft proves this true by having gameplay vastly superior to pretty much every slick looking game on the market right now. The brilliant, brutal element of Minecraft is this: everything you do, you do to survive. There is no other aim in the game but to live another day.

But how do you survive in a world where absolutely everything is a resource, but nightfall brings skeletons that shoot at you with bows and arrows? And around every corner lurk exploding greenies waiting to take you out? Well, you learn like man once had to, to build shelter , harness the power of fire and use materials to their maximum advantage.

There are plenty of beginner guides out there to surviving your first night in Minecraft, so I'm not going to go too deep into the mechanics of that here. For your first night, you'll just need some light in the form of torches (obtained by mining coal and using sticks made from wood) and a shelter.

The first thing you need to do upon arriving in the world of Minecraft is go and punch a tree. Go and punch a tree a great deal. From trees come wood, which can be used to create wooden planks. Wooden planks can create sticks (place two wooden planks above one another in the crafting window to make a stick) and workbenches. The workbench is essential to your survival, because it opens up the 3x3 crafting grid that you'll create everything in the game with.

Workbenches are created by placing four wooden planks into the small crafting window. Once created, a wooden workbench can be placed anywhere in the world and right clicked upon to open the crafting window. In this window you will want to place sticks in a 'T' shape. This will give you your first tool, a wooden pick axe.

There are a wide range of crafting guides available, and I suggest you avail yourself of them. If nothing else, the Minecraft Wiki is an excellent place to start.

With the pickaxe, you mine coal. One stick and one piece of coal make a torch. Hurrah. You now have light.

Shelters can be made simply by tunneling underground, into the side of a mountain, or by building your own out of dirt, wood or stone. Make sure that your shelter is well lit, otherwise you may end up in the unenviable position of being stuck inside a shelter with a monster. Remember, monsters spawn anywhere it is dark. Anywhere.

These are all Minecraft basics, and you'll find this advice in a gazillion places. What advice you might not find is this: build your first shelter as close to your spawn point as possible. Why? Well, often new players are entranced by the majesty of the world and go wandering off large distances before they build a shelter. This is problematic because when you die (and it really is only a matter of time), you will respawn at your original spawn point. If you can't find your way back to the shelter you made, or your body, you're in some serious trouble.

A second important point to remember is this: it is hugely easy to become disoriented in Minecraft. The world is constantly being generated to the reaches of your imagination and beyond. Though you may not think of it at first, it is essential that you mark your way when traveling about the place, for it is easy to loose sight of where you started and end up wandering around for ages trying to find your shelter, which will invariably end up storing a great deal of precious items. There's nothing more irritating than putting hours into perfecting a shelter, putting in windows and a door and lovingly placing your diamonds and gold into chests only to discover you can't find any of it anymore.

After a few runs at Minecraft, I've decided that the best way forward for me is to build roadways, tunnels and other well lit paths (complete with signage) that give me a chance of finding myself again when I go wandering. It is possible to craft a compass in Minecraft, but you're unlikely to find the materials to do that right off the bat, so it is better, I think, to bend the world to your will.

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