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Minecraft Mod Examination: Underground Biomes Constructs
The many caverns in Minecraft are endless and often full of both treasure and terrors, but thanks to a severe lack of variety they can still become boring at times. The same type of dull grey stone makes up almost the entire underground landscape, with only the occasional bits of dirt, gravel, and a few soon-to-be-mined ores adding in any real color. Those who approach bedrock level will start encountering lava, as well as the bedrock itself, but in total there are less than ten types of blocks throughout much of the underworld. The majority of mods out there include a few new ores or extra objects that add in a little more variety, and a handful even specialize in improving the cave systems in some way, but there are very few that offer as striking an upgrade to the appearance of Minecraft's caverns as Underground Biomes Constructs.
It does this by simply replacing the default stone that generates in almost every part of the world with over twenty new types of minerals. These new blocks are not mixed together like some kind of kaleidoscopic nightmare, but instead each type fills up a large area of the underground, usually greater in width than most villages, but smaller than an abandoned mine-shaft or stronghold. On average, only two or three of these "underground biomes" are located below any point on the surface, and some only seem generate in certain zones, meaning that a great deal of exploration may be required to find all of the new mineral types.
But thanks to the huge variety of minerals that UBC uses to decorate its caves, spending time underground no longer feels like stepping into a colorless movie. There are in total twenty-four new types of rock spread through the earth, each with different blast and mining resistances, and they all look fantastic. Some caves will have walls of pitch-black lignite, others will be covered by striped gneiss, and a few caves might be made of white soapstone or marble. All of Minecraft's original ores have had special recolored varieties created that fit in quite well with each of the new stone types, and a few mods, such as Tinker's Construct, have also had their ores recolored.
And even through these new types of rock are pretty enough in their natural state, they can also be used as excellent building materials. Each one can be changed into appropriately colored variations of Minecraft's walls, bricks, cobble, or any of the other basic types of stone building materials, allowing for black stairs, marble buttons, or pillars of red granite to be constructed throughout the player's base. Furthermore, the new minerals seem to automatically adjust to most other mods recipe systems, and so can be used in place of grey stone in almost all circumstances. Even in the rare case that one wishes for the old type of stone, or encounters a mod that cannot use the new minerals, simply combining any four of UBC's minerals into a crafting grid will bring out four blocks of the classic stone, ready to be used for whatever purpose is needed.
But even though Underground Biomes Constructs does so much to enhance caves, and is quite stable overall, there are a couple of unpleasant problems associated with the mod. By far the worst of these is the impact to world-generation speed, which means that those moving very quickly, such as through creative flight or while riding a boat or horse can out-pace the speed at which Minecraft generates new areas, forcing them to pause from time to time while parts of the world are built. Also, while the mod does implement textures for some other plugins, a few major mods such as Thaumcraft still generate normal gray stone ores, even when surrounded by UBC's new minerals.
All in all, Underground Biomes Constructs provides what is possibly the greatest enhancement to Minecraft's caverns that can be found. It massively increases the amount of basic stone types in the game, improving the world for those who want to build quarries, live underground, or even those who just like traveling through the mountains. All of the new minerals can be turned into building materials, allowing for fortresses of black granite or temples of marble to be constructed without any need for texture packs or the use of difficult to collect materials such as obsidian and quartz. While it can have a severe problem with world-generation, especially when placed with other mods that add a lot to the game's world-gen, this is mostly an issue for those in multiplayer or creative mode, and players who travel on foot or stay near their spawn may never notice any kind of problems at all. Underground Biomes Constructs may not be a flawless gem, but it makes the underworld shine like no other mod can.