Minecraft Mod Examination: Fossils and Archaeology Revival
There are only about three reasons people dig into the earth in the real world. The first is to mine stone, gas, and minerals, the second is to create structures, and the third is to uncover fossils and other objects from the distant past. But while mining and construction work are well-represented in Minecraft, there is almost no archaeological digging in the game. The only bones found underground are those taken off of the undead, there are only three structures under the earth, and almost nothing about the world's history can be deduced from any of these. There are a few facts about that history that can be understood based on the game's setting, and a lot of fan-made plotlines have been created over the years, but they mostly come from the existence of certain creatures or a few fan-made stories such as that of Herobrine. For many players this is perfectly fine, as a world without a past leaves a completely blank slate that can be easily built upon. But some may find that a world with some built-in stories is actually easier to work with, or feel that the lack of any sign of a past hurts their sense of immersion. And of course, others may simply want to play with dinosaur bones. Whatever the reason is for wanting richer sense of history, Fossils and Archeology Revival's additions to the game will do a lot to bring the past to life.
While there is no true in-game manual, getting started with the mod is fairly easy. Players can find several types of fossil blocks buried throughout the world, and by mining them up they can gather relic scraps, fossils, and a few other new items. Most of these can be placed inside of an analyzer, a machine constructed from four iron, a relic scrap, and a bio-fossil, which will then break the block down into one of several types of materials. Occasionally this will be simple sand or coal, but most of the time the analyzer will discover something interseting, such as a stone tablet that depicts an event from the past, or the DNA of an ancient plant or animal.
For some people that last will be the most important, as it is needed before one can resurrect a life-form from the distant past. Doing so will require players to construct another new machine, the culture vat, and then place the fossilized plant or animal DNA inside. That entity will also need a decent source of biological material of some kind before it can be recreated, such as milk, raw meat, eggs, or even fossils. Once the machine has been given fossilized DNA and the other materials, an embryo of some kind will appear in the vat, and unless something goes horribly wrong, a usable seed, embryo, or egg will be created after a few minutes.
But obviously, this is only the first stage of growth for most lifeforms, and many of them have some kind of requirements that must be met before they can be brought to life. Plants are the easiest, as the shrubs simply need to be placed in the world to reach full growth, and tree saplings can be set down and after a while will reach full growth. Avian eggs are almost as easy to hatch, and players can just throw them at the ground as hard as they can and have a perfectly healthy baby bird pop out.
However, embryos and dinosaur eggs are a bit more complex. Embryos are specific to ancient mammals, and come in the form of an injection that must be used on a breed-able creature such as a sheep or cow. After a few minutes the animal should simply give birth to the creature without any extra input required from the player. Meanwhile, dinosaur eggs can be placed down in the world from the instant they are pulled out of the cultivator, but all of them require some kind of gentle warmth such as from sun or torchlight, and a few need to be submerged in deep water. And it is very important to take care of these eggs, since unlike the other methods of birthing animals, egg-laying can be done incorrectly, which will kill the creature before it has even left its shell.
And that need to care for the creature does not end once they have hatched. Once an animal is born it will slowly start growing up, but unlike the farm animals in the original game, most of the creatures from Fossils and Archaeology Revival require the player to feed them from time to time. And not all types of food are viable for all creatures, most require a diet either of fish, meat, or plants, and while the beasts can hunt for their own food, one will need to accommodate for their dinosaur's needs if they actually wish to keep them as pets. Thankfully that is fairly simple, as the creatures can be fed by hand, through the use of surrounding plants and animals, automatically by keeping a machine called a feeder within the beast's reach and filling it with food, or in one clever reptile's case by placing a chest full of meat nearby. And of course, many of the carnivorous animals will be perfectly content to fill their bellies with other nearby dinosaurs and farm animals, so players may want to seriously consider keeping separate cages.
All of this may seem like it could be confusing, but players can access in-depth information on a beast's food requirements, age, and more through the use of an item called the dinopedia. This book is normally useless, but when pointed at an egg or a living dinosaur it will show what they eat, how old they are, an eggs status and requirements, and a good bit of historical data on the beast. It is unfortunate that the booklet only shows data on the specific egg or animal that the player is looking at, and there is no in-game compendium of information on multiple creatures, but the item is still incredibly important for anyone wishing to keep an ancient beast as a pet.
And while the novelty of taming an ancient animal is often the primary reason for raising such a beast, it is certainly not the only one. Almost all dinosaurs can be tamed and controlled in some way, and once befriended will protect the player if they are attacked. It is also possible to ride most of the larger beasts, and a few of them have some very unique traits such as the plesiosaur, which works as an underwater mount. Others can be used as guardians in a manner similar to the vanilla wolves, and even the few untamable beasts are limited by their habitats and so can be placed in moats or other defensive areas to ward off other players.
The ancient beasts and plants of Fossils and Achaeology Revival may have a lot of appeal, but they are only half of the mod's additions to the game. The portion of the mod focused on archaeology starts out in a similar way to the dinosaur section, and players will want to send a number of relic scraps through an analyzer to try and find stone tablets, pottery shards, old pieces of equipment, and small statues. Players will probably use most of these for decoration, and the shards and what can be built from them are in fact purely decorative. But the equipment and statues both have a unique power for players to discover, and one might just figure out what that is if they pay close enough attention to what is shown on each stone tablet.
But of course, some of the items found by using the analyzer will be broken or damaged, and will need to be repaired in some way. That is where the archaeology workbench, the last machine added by the mod, comes into play. This machine can extract special materials from relic scraps and use them to repair some of Fossils and Archaeology Revival's rarer objects, such as the pottery and equipment left over by the ancients.
There are also a fair number of new structures that adventurous players can find in their travels. These include battered ships hidden under the waves, ancient temples with no clear entrances, and even an old academy built by prior historians. Some of the structures are simply nice finds for beginning players, and the academy in particular can function as a very effective home for those who have just started a new game, but they also tend to house quite a number of unique items, and even the objects that can be found elsewhere will generally be of higher quality when found inside a generated structure.
But in some ways, the greatest find is not one of the ancient buildings found in the Overworld, but a unique boat that only appears in the Nether. That vessel only appears in the middle of lakes of lava, and houses a special statue that can be used in a ritual to create a gateway to the mod's only dungeon. Opening that portal requires using the knowledge gleaned from stone tablets to figure out what items are needed to perform the spell, and placing them in the correct positions around the statue. Once everything is in the right place, that statue will transform into a portal to a castle filled with nice items, interesting enemies, and one of the more complex and fun boss fights the Minecraft community has come up with. But adventurers should make sure to be well prepared before stepping through the gate, as the boss has additional summoning requirements beyond finding his arena, and players cannot leave the dungeon without dying or defeating the boss.
Sadly, while there is a lot of good to Fossils and Archaeology Revival, it also has a few problems. There is no in-game manual, and while the wiki is quite helpful, the mod is complex enough to deserve at least a tiny in-game guide. All of the dinosaurs are well-animated and look great out in the plains, but also they tend to have horrible clipping issues when near any kind of wall or other obstruction. There are also a few bugs that players might run into, most of which will not cause any major issues; however, it is still possible to get bounced forever on a set of boss-spawned obsidian spikes or have have a larger beast walk through or break blocks that it shouldn't be able to pass. Certain parts of the mod are also unfinished, most notably the time-travel mechanic that one should be able to access after finishing the mod's only dungeon. That dungeon also lacks an escape route for players who do not carry one of the rarest items in the game to it, and it is easily possible for anyone who does not use the wiki to lock themselves in there with no way out. And like many mods that add large structures, it has a tendency to place them on platforms that can either dig into nearby hills, or float a little above the ground.
But the greatest reasons for someone not to like the mod is that it takes quite a while to access most of its toys and provides almost no actual benefit to the player for having them. Dinosaurs make decent mounts and pets, but the original games creatures are often at least as useful. The new tools are stronger than diamond, yet not significantly so, and the scarabs required to create them are quite rare. And the process of cultivating, incubating, and raising an ancient beast into adulthood can take up a very large amount of the players time. While these issues are not actually bad in any way, they are likely to prevent certain types of players from enjoying the mod and should be considered before installing it.
But for patient players who do not feel the need to power-game, Fossils and Archaeology Revival offers a lot of content to explore and plenty of goals to aim for. One can try and repopulate the world with dinosaurs, create a garden of ancient plants, or defend their homes with the fiercest of beasts. They can construct a museum, try and understand the world's history, or hunt down an evil king of the ancient world. And of course, one can choose to ride a T-rex and tower over everyone that they meet. Fossils and Archaeology Revival gives players an incredible number of things to do, and is a great mod for anyone who is willing to put in the time to explore the past.