Minecraft In 2016: A Year Worth Building On!

Did Minecraft live up to your expectations this year? Let's talk about it!

Minecraft's start-up screen!.

At the end of a year, people around the world looks back at what they have been a part of, what they've accomplished, and what was experienced. 2016 should be treated as no different, especially in regards to everybody’s favorite sandbox game, Minecraft. With countless updates, game and world changing benefits, the team behind the game and its many projects have consistently created and have caused a snowball effect that has no sign of slowing down.

In this article, we will be looking back at what the various teams behind Minecraft and it’s community have brought into fruition and how they have not only changed the game, but the world. Let’s get digging!

So Many Releases!

Minecraft Elytra Wings Gliding
Gliding with the Elytra Wings!.

In terms of updates, productivity has seemed to have skyrocketed to new heights in 2016 (and I’m not just saying that because Elytras were released, either). With not only 1.9’s release of updating Combat, two more updates were given to the public. Players quickly gained access to Minecraft’s new 1.10 update (The Frostburn Update), and the 1.11 update (The Exploration Update) and began enjoying themselves.

All of these updates brought new and exciting features that challenged players to utilize the new mechanics in very interesting ways. Completely changing the way Combat worked gave players the initiative to find new techniques for vanquishing their foes in fighting. On top that, many new mobs, biomes, blocks, items, structures, tools, and “locations” were added to the game in all updates (1.9, 1.10, 1.11).

While some mobs that were released may seem inviting, many would just as soon attack you given certain circumstances (like the Polar Bear). Many other mobs may allow you to ride them and may aid you on your journey through Minecraft, like the Llamas. New Mini-Bosses were released to challenge players in new ways, finally creating a mob who fights with magic, rather than physically through face-to-face combat, or fighting from a distance with projectiles.

New types of Chests were released known as “Shulker Boxes”. These “Chests” have ultimately changed the way the game is played in terms of storing, and taking items with you on the go. Shulker Boxes, unlike Chests, can be broken without items falling onto the ground. The items are stored within the box, even upon breaking. Each Shulker Box has its own ID, which registers and saves the item within. If a Shulker Box has items stored inside, and the Shulker Box is broken and despawned (sitting idly, thrown into Lava, hitting a Cactus, etc), the items inside will be destroyed with it. Shulker Boxes are allowing players to easily transport and manage important resources more efficiently through Ender Chests and other means.

Many other important features have been released over the past year, including Shields, Polar Bears, Husks, Strays, and more. As per usual, Herobrine has been removed again (and again… and again).

Minecraft: Education Edition Announced and Released!

Minecraft: Education Edition!. Mojang, Microsoft

Educating the masses has always been a difficult task. Especially when those of whom, in that mass, are young. With the release of Minecraft: Education Edition, students and teachers around the world have began utilizing the program in schools and lessons. With various school systems and teachers slowly understanding that teaching methods must be changed to work with a large majority of the newer generation, they’ve attempted to bring some fun into subjects that were once deemed boring.

Giving children of any age a video game and a lesson involved with said game will interest them in many ways. Minecraft is not a traditional teaching game and kids and educators are realizing it. When a game is focused on teaching a child a subject, the game attempts to drill said information in as hard as it can. Rather than treating the child like they know absolutely nothing about a potentially trivial subject, Minecraft: Education Edition allows them to feel competent in a virtual world, surrounded by their peers and educators. Spelling, Math, and History games have needed the boost that Minecraft has so easily began teaching with its recognizable style of gameplay.

Mojang and the various teams working on the Minecraft: Education Edition project have certainly hit the nail on the head with their newly founded project. Schools have begun adopting the program and utilizing the game to its full teaching potential. Video games like Minecraft are entirely engaging, so rather than sitting a child in front of a game along the lines of “Reader Rabbit” (that he or she will more than likely zone out during) gives them the opportunity to find interest in a subject through means that may have once seemed outdated.

Block by Block

A child designing a public space in Minecraft with Block by Block. Block by Block

While Mojang has been helping children in schools, they’ve also been assisting those of whom are in need. “Block by Block”, Mojang’s “partnership with UN-Habitat, has helped create public spaces around the world in poor, underdeveloped communities.

Block by Block claims, “Public spaces are vital ingredients to successful cities, providing the backbone to urban life. They are the cultural, social, political, economic and environmental spaces of cities. They are the first thing that shows that a place has gone from a chaotic and unplanned settlement to a well-established town or city.”

Since their beginning in 2012, Block by Block has began projects in almost 30 locations around the world. The charity has engaged these communities to assist them in creating these public spaces for everyone to use and appreciate.

By using Minecraft to design their future spaces, local residents and managers feel as if it has been a beneficial experience. Not only have they helped create these spaces that will be benefiting an entire community, but they have also taught the community involved with the project key features of importance in maintaining, and innovating to the fullest of their capabilities, given their specific circumstances.

Minecraft VR

Microsoft's HoloLens in action!. Mojang, Microsoft

Virtual reality exploded into the mainstream this year, and it seems that everybody wants in on the action. Minecraft is no exception to this excitement. With advancements in the technology being realized every week (or so it feels like), companies have been racing to create the next big experience in gaming and entertainment. Over the course of this past year, Mojang officially released Minecraft for the Gear VR (which works on Samsung’s Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 Edge, Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 Edge, and Note5 phones).

On top of the mobile edition getting its upgrade, support for Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition was also released on the Oculus Rift. Players are able to hop into the action on either of these platforms and enjoy Minecraft like it’s there in front of them.

Minecraft: Story Mode Concluded?

Minecraft Story Mode Screen
Minecraft: Story Mode!.

As we’ve followed our heroes trek through the land of Minecraftia, saving the world one day and adventure at a time, Minecraft: Story Mode has officially concluded. At least to what we can expect, that is. With Minecraft: Story Mode being an almost guaranteed success from its initial announcement and then entirely guaranteed upon release, players are begging for more content. Telltale Games would be missing out on a very large, interested audience if they had no desire to potentially carry on this story (or stories like it) with new or old characters.

Players speculate that more chapters will be released in the form of a new season, or to capitalize on the younger audience, they may just release more chapters directly to the main game as a form of paid DLC.

The Future?

Mojang's Jeb, featured in a commercial for Minecraft's China release. Mojang

Many new opportunities will be had for Minecraft in this next year. Some of which have been announced, and some of which we can hope for. As our excitement grows, so do our expectations and as per usual, we can only assume that Mojang will hit them.

One expectation that was announced in 2016 was that Minecraft would be getting a China release. While this will more than likely not affect or pertain to you, it’s still very noteworthy in showing how Minecraft has been breaking borders, quite literally. NetEase, Microsoft, and Mojang have all been working in collaboration to bring this idea and desire into fruition for quite some time. Offering Minecraft to more individuals can only grow our community, making it last longer and more open to ideas from others.

Other releases that have been announced and have generated quite a large amount of controversy has been the talks of the unnamed, upcoming Minecraft movie. As the movie is being directed by It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia star and co-creator, Rob McElhenney, a large majority of the player base is excited. The choice of director has also caused many to wonder what the target demographic of this movie will be. Many have assumed rather than being targeted directly at children, the movie would be targeted at approximately the same audience as The Lego Movie’s. While not much information has been confirmed, we know the movie is slated for a 2019 release date.

As Microsoft has stated many times that they’re still interested in the use of HoloLens and the concepts behind the idea, many wonder about the potential of Minecraft with the tech. As we’ve seen bits and pieces of what can be done at various conventions and tech demos, we have a feeling that Microsoft and Mojang may be hiding a few secrets. While they’ve stayed quiet about Minecraft and HoloLens for quite some time, we have a feeling that 2017 may be the year to start that conversation back up again.

While this article focused primarily on the official side of Minecraft and not necessarily the community’s creations, we can only assume we will get the most out of 2017. With every year of Minecraft updates, releases, technology, advancements, and things of that nature, we know as a community that we will utilize what we have been given to the best of our abilities to not only shape our gameplay, but the world around us. Minecraft has given opportunities to many, and 2016 has proved that it can stand the test of time. Most video games and content online are forgotten within moments, leaving little to no imprint on the world around it. Minecraft: Education Edition, Block by Block, and many other examples give players hope that this is only the beginning of our blocky foundation.