Minecraft is more than a decade old, but it’s doing something you don’t often see with video games: It’s making a comeback in popularity.
Over the summer, Minecraft spiked on Twitch, according to a third-party analytics site. Channels streaming the game were bringing in four times the audience compared to just a few months before. Creators on YouTube are riding the same wave, telling The Washington Post that they’ve noticed an upswing in the views to their Minecraft-related videos.
There has been a steady drumbeat of attention for the sandbox builder. Mojang, the company behind the game, released two major updates in the past year or so. It’s also working on two new offshoots of the original game. One is an augmented-reality experience for your phone (think Pokémon Go) and the other, Minecraft Dungeon, is an RPG similar to Diablo.
Swedish YouTube creator PewDiePie returned to Minecraft in June, bringing with him one of the largest audiences on the platform. He has already posted more than 100 Minecraft-themed videos. Some of the biggest Fortnite streamers are even swinging their pickax. Depending on how you play, some streamers have said Minecraft can be a welcome respite from the grinding gameplay of battles royal.
“Everyone has kind of been starved when it comes to creativity, and Minecraft allows them to sort of express that,” professional Fortnite streamer Ali “Myth” Kabbani recently told The Post. “It’s a nice break from the usual.”
If you’re looking to return to mining or maybe create a new world for the first time, The Post talked with two YouTube creators — Preston Arsement of PrestonPlayz and Tyler Pappas of logdotzip — and asked for their advice.
Pick an edition: Bedrock or Java
First, there are two slightly different versions of the main game — Bedrock and Java.
Java is the original version. It remains a hub for hobbyists who want to modify the game in their own custom servers. Minecraft, at its core, is an incredibly flexible game. People have created servers to play versions of Pokémon. There are countless libraries online for Minecraft enthusiasts to play and alter older versions of the game.
Bedrock is the multiplatform edition of Minecraft, which allows players to mine with friends on other devices — phones, consoles, etc. In Bedrock, rather than adding lines of code to modify the game, there’s a setup marketplace for the community.
“The marketplace is basically this thriving ecosystem that takes the best of user-generated content and lets the player base purchase it,” Pappa said. “Not only to expand their gameplay experiences but to directly support the teams behind it.”
Bedrock is a bit more buttoned-up and probably the future of the franchise with its cross-platform capabilities, while Java is the tried-and-true edition for some hardcore fans.
In the beginning, find your village people
If you’re starting a new survival world in Minecraft, Pappa’s recommendation is to get to the nearest village. These towns, and the villagers in them, are more important than ever after recent updates to the game.
Villages will provide a roof over your head and an empty bed for those dark early days playing Minecraft. You can live off their crops and use the towns as a home base, at least until you build a house of your own.
Once you’re on your own two feet, Pappa said you should make use of the utility blocks around town — even “borrow” a few to place in your future home. Grindstones, smokers, stone cutters and other utility blocks are all available for players to forge new items or craft more efficiently.
One update from Mojang has expanded on how and what you can trade with villagers. If you make the most of it, trading can become a simple way to get your hands on rare items, Pappa said. Protect the villagers from the aptly named “pillagers,” a new spawn in the game that will attack in coordinated raids, and you’ll get better deals in trades with the townspeople.
“They’re making it more interactive and having more of an experience past beating the Ender Dragon,” Arsement said.
Go for a swim, play with animals
You could always swim in Minecraft, but a year ago Mojang provided a reason to explore the ocean depths with an Aquatic update. There are sunken ships, treasure maps, tridents and, yes, underwater zombies. You can build your next humble abode underwater, Pappas said.
“And what an exciting concept, right?” he added. “Build underwater, give it an air dome. Watch as fish swim by your head.”
While you’re down there, swim with the dolphins or the puffer fish. Speaking of both, Minecraft now has more than your typical farm animals in the game — with bees, pandas, turtles and foxes that huddle into their own tail for a quick nap.
“Minecraft is a very relaxing game,” Pappas said. “It’s got lovely piano music in the background. Fun cute animals to look at. There’s no impetus to kill everyone and get first place, and I think that resonates with a lot of people,” Pappas said, referring to Fortnite and other battle royal games.
But, despite all the new bells and whistles, the core game hasn’t changed. Minecraft remains a massive sandbox to jump into whether you’re looking to explore “an endless procedurally generated world” or just create with a digital Lego set, Pappas said.
“It’s essentially a platform in which we can do whatever we want,” Pappas said. “That’s what has allowed it to survive for the last decade.”