Minecraft Mod Examination: Enhanced Biomes
For the most part, Biomes O' Plenty is the unofficial king of zone-adding mods for Minecraft. It is one of the oldest of that type of mod available, is generally stable, constantly updated, looks quite good, and is compatible with almost everything. But there are quite a few other options which players should consider. For instance, Highlands adds in customized ore-generation that rewards those searching for specific metals and gems in the correct biome. ExtrabiomesXL is another solid choice, one that has less total areas than the others, but is highly compatible and can even be run alongside the other biome mods. However, those wanting the most new areas to explore, or who wish to upgrade the appearance of the underground without the use of another mod, will probably find Enhanced Biomes to be the best possible choice.
Enhanced Biomes is the evolution of an earlier mod, Better Biomes, and includes around ninety new zones to find and explore. Most of these are made to be more natural than magical in appearance: there are no giant flowers or blue trees, no fairies or withering flora. Instead the biomes are based on real parts of the world, such as forests of silver-pines, swampy carrs, and rolling sand dunes inspired by the Sahara desert. While the focus on such normal types of areas might seem like it would limit the total number of possible biomes included in the mod, the developer has done an excellent job of keeping each location visually distinct, and without any places within a climate zone feeling disconnected from its surroundings. Most of the new locales utilize at least one of the thirteen new types of trees, and some areas provide easy access to otherwise annoying-to-gather materials, such as the clay hills and sandstone canyons that can populate the dryer parts of the world.
And not all of Enhanced Biome's variety shows on the surface. The developer has implemented several new forms of basic stone, and while there are not as many mineral types as are in something like Underground Biomes, the thirteen new materials all have special ore textures, can be turned into cobble or bricks, and can add many interesting options for building. Furthermore, Enhanced Biomes adds in multiple new types of dirt, such as andisol and gelisol. Each of these gives a fair amount of extra color to the cliffs and hills in each biome, and can grow grass, be turned into farmland, get dumped on your roof by an Endermen, and all of the other things that players expect of Minecraft's dirt.
But depending on one's modpack, some of the coolest features might have to be manually turned on in the configuration file. For instance, there is a seasons option that causes some very slight changes to the climate every few days. Players can also change the size and placement of the towns in their world, somewhat increasing how large they can be, how common they are, and where they can generate. There are settings to disable or enable the grass, stone, and ore types, as well as make the new stones only generate in pockets underground, which does a good bit to improve Enhanced Biomes' compatibility with other mods. A single-biome world-type can be enabled, which is a great treat for those of us who have been playing since Minecraft's beta. And like most zone-adding mods, Enhanced Biomes includes the standard abilities to adjust biome IDs for compatibility, increase or decrease the chance on encountering any specific area, and change the average size of the biomes that generate.
But unfortunately, Enhanced Biomes does have its issues, many of which are related to its relationship with other mods. Unlike the somewhat similar Underground Biomes, there is no crafting recipe for normal stone, and while the new minerals work just fine for most mod-added recipes, and small pockets of the regular stone can be found on rare occasion, the inability to easily gather grey stone can still cause problems from time to time. Similarly, while most Forge-based mods should recognize the new areas and spawn creatures appropriately, some do not take advantage of Forge's biome-dictionary and are not designed with Enhanced Biomes in mind, and so cannot generate their beasts in the new zones. Certain mod-added seeds, such as those include in Witchery or Magical Crops, may have issues growing next to each other in the new soil, and will pop right out of the ground if another crop is planted beside them. Even though the mod is stable, there are some irritating bugs, such as stones changing into other types of materials when crafting stairs. And finally, while all of the new types of wood and stone can be used to create the game's normal goods, there are only custom variations for cobble, brick, stairs, slabs, and planks. Attempting to craft walls, buttons, fences and some of the other standard types of items out of the new wood and stones will result in either Minecraft's usual grey rock version of stone-based materials, or in the case of wooden items turn into standard oak-colored items.
Yet despite those issues, Enhanced Biomes is still a very strong mod. It includes the largest number of areas out of any Overworld-editing mod, and each one is well designed and looks fantastic. The enhancements to caves are equally impressive, with much of the strength of something like Underground Biomes without nearly the same amount of world-generation lag. There are many annoying problems with compatibly, but many of these are fixable through the configuration file, and the mod is otherwise extremely stable. Enhanced Biomes is simply the single most all-encompassing biome mod out there, and even though it has some problems that need to be solved, it is already one of the greatest options the player can install.