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Minecraft Mod Examination: Biomes O' Plenty
One of the most important aspects of any game is its setting, and while the original biomes are already quite good, this is one part of Minecraft that modders cannot seem to stop upgrading. There are mods that adjust the way the land is generated, making realistic mountains, lovely beaches, and drastically reducing the chance of encountering those ridiculous floating islands. Others go down a different route and add additional terrain details to the existing areas, such as new rivers or trees. A very large number of mods add new structures, such as ruins, towns, and even full-blown dungeons that enhance exploration and give a little feeling of history to the world. And some especially ambitious mods even add entirely new dimensions that can be explored, colonized, and occasionally even custom-built by players. But the most commonly used type of mods that improve on Minecraft's setting are those that simply add new biomes to the game's original three planes of existence. And by far the most popular of that type of mod is Biomes O' Plenty, a slightly fantasy-themed mod that almost triples the number of areas in Minecraft.
While Biomes O' Plenty is popular, there are other mods that add even more areas than it. For instance, Enhanced Biomes adds in almost a hundred new areas, and The Lord of the Rings Mod includes even more that that within its Middle-Earth dimension. But what makes Biomes O' Plenty so great is the quality and variety of the new areas. There are dusty canyons where barely anything can grow, snow-covered mountains that tower above the clouds, and furious volcanoes that pour lava into nearby mangrove forests. Lovers of fantasy might enjoy the magical woodlands full of blue trees, glowing flowers, and Zelda-style fairies, or perhaps they would prefer the swampy forests covered in deep fog that hides poisonous water and deadly plants, and a few might even enjoy the fields of giant flowers that grow within the rare Garden biome. Bamboo forests and cherry-blossom groves help fill in the original game's lack of Asian-styled biomes, while bayous and redwood forests add a little bit of the Americas to Minecraft. Those who enjoy swimming might like the new coral reef and kelp forest areas, and people who enjoy the heat might instead choose to live in a lush desert or near an oasis. There are so many types of biomes within this mod that there is a decent chance you might never see them all.
Many of these biomes have new trees, flowers, vines, and moss growing within, and a few might even have new creatures specific to them, or utilize rarer vanilla monsters like witches and cave spiders in new ways. There are also new liquids within some of the new areas such as the aforementioned poisonous ponds in the Ominous Woods and the puddles of blood hidden throughout the Nether. Liquids are not the only reason to watch your feet, as you might be slowed by the new mud blocks in swampy biomes, brush against poison ivy, or start sinking into quicksand when exploring the jungles and deserts of the Overworld. But that mud, ivy, quicksand, and in fact practically everything the mod adds can be utilized in some way, such as built into tools, turned into poisons, or made into deadly base defenses.
Not that the Overworld is the only place Biomes O' Plenty enhances. The Nether has had six new biomes added to its sole original area, and they are all a ton of fun to explore. There are dying forests and walls of flesh, pillars of bone and pools of blood, burning wastelands and frozen caverns, all weaved together so well that it feels like how the Nether should have been in the first place. These areas each come with new items and uses, like the blood that can be used for irrigation in the Nether and the bones that can be broken down and turned into fertilizer, and generally feel even more well-polished and worth exploring than the many biomes of the Overworld.
But Biomes O' Plenty does more to aid exploration than just add new biomes, it also has a number of nice items that can help players in their travels. You can use the mud found in swamps to build armor and tools, and even though this material is just as weak and ridiculous as it sounds, it can still help a player when starting a new world. There are also several new types of food such as persimmons, berries, and wild carrots, and many of these can be replanted and farmed. Dart blowers can be made with pieces of the new river cane plant, and while it can be hard to collect enough darts, it provides a surprisingly powerful mid-range weapon thanks to both a very high rate of fire and the ability to apply poison to each dart. But perhaps the best items are the two uncraftable pairs of footwear, the flippers and wading boots. These can only be found in chests, but when donned allow the player to either swim incredibly fast when wearing the flippers, or move at normal speed through mud and ash with the wading boots.
And unlike most other biome mods, Biomes O' Plenty makes several small adjustments to the original areas. Deserts now have quicksand and tiny cacti to watch for, swamps generate mud near the water, and you can find algae and a few other plants growing at the bottom of rivers and lakes. A few additional flowers might also grow in the basic biomes, and new mushrooms will pop up everywhere, including inside of caves. And while these upgrades are great, if you want you can disable any or all of them in the configuration file, or play with just the upgraded older biomes by not choosing the Biomes O' Plenty world type when starting a new game.
Speaking of the configuration file, that might actually be the best part of this mod. Everything in the mod is adjustable, from the amount of water in the world, to whether the new items are added to dungeon chests, even the possible locations for villages and strongholds can be modified. You can also disable or adjust how common each area is, as well as disable the changes to each individual vanilla biome. All of these options are split across seven different configuration files allowing for easy access to whatever you need, and most parts are so simple to figure out that anyone should be able to safely tweak the mod to their liking.
As great as these features are, probably the biggest reason for the mod's popularity is that there really is very little that can be considered wrong with it. There are sometimes severe differences between biomes which can make it highly obvious when you spot a new area, but that was already a problem in the original game. Just like in vanilla Minecraft the villages can generate into hilly terrain and become rather odd looking, though this can be exacerbated by the higher terrain of the mod's more mountainous areas. And another issue along borders is that taller areas can have the terrain of nearby biomes continue to appear quite far up their sides, which makes for weird situations like beach sand "climbing" halfway up the Alps. This again, is a normal Minecraft issue, and really almost all of its problems are basically just the game's normal issues strengthened by the mod's love of variety. Otherwise, it is highly stable and compatible with just about every other mod.
At this point in Minecraft's existence there is almost no reason not to have some kind of biome or terrain generation mod installed, and for anyone who wants to add a bit of fantastical styling to their world generation, this is the greatest, and practically only, choice. Those who dislike fantasy can choose to disable the magically-themed areas and just enjoy the beautiful heath lands, redwood forests, and the fifty or so other, more normal, zones. It adds new items to the world and gives some of the older ones new uses, implements new plants and animals, enhances many of the old biomes, and adds many upgrades to the Nether that it desperately needed. It has almost no conflicts with other mods, and with a little work can even be used with some other biome-adding mods like Highlands or ExtrabiomesXL to add even more variety to the world. So whether you want to find a great setting for a new base, or just enjoy wandering through a well-made and varied world, Biomes O' Plenty can provide the perfect backdrop for all of your adventures.