Even with all of its popularity, a large number of gamers have not had the opportunity to sample Minecraft. Despite that fact, the developers behind the game have found ways of introducing it to more people. The game is soon to be released via Xbox Live Arcade, and we managed to be among the first to sit down to finally learn how to properly play the game.
The first noticeable difference between this version and other versions has to do with the controller. Upon grabbing an Xbox 360 controller, we noticed the difference in how one version played when compared to using a mouse and keyboard. To accommodate the change, the controls are set up as you'd expect a first-person shooter to be: Your right trigger performs key actions, such as swinging an axe; the A button is used to jump; bumpers are used to change items on the fly; and so forth. If you've played any FPS during the past decade, you will automatically adjust to the controls in Minecraft on XBLA.
The other difference has to do with the introduction of a nifty tutorial mode. The PC version of the game has thrived on a community of people that has uploaded videos and written numerous tutorials on how to do everything. But a lot of times, some people start playing, don't know what is required, get frustrated, and stop playing. To help those who still want to experience what Minecraft has to offer and not get discouraged, the tutorial will get you going in the right direction.
The tutorial gives you the basics and leads you at a nice gradual pace. As you walk around your world for the first time, it will teach you the basic controls, as well as what you need to create your first crafting table and your first weapon/collecting tool. You'll also learn about what you need to collect to build a house and to be safe inside when night falls. As you build specific weapons and tools, you'll learn how to best use each item. This way, you're not using a shovel to chop down a tree. Thankfully, for those who do have previous knowledge of Minecraft, this mode is completely optional.
This version of Minecraft also introduces an improved and easier to navigate crafting system. Going back to the issue of players not knowing what is required to make certain items, here, everything is placed in a nice menu that details every bit of information you'll need to make any specific item. Navigating through the menus is easy and helpful. With all required ingredients shown to you in advance, you can focus on what you need to collect and be well equipped when you decide to explore the deeper regions of your world.
With the inclusion of an optional tutorial mode, simpler crafting system, and easy-to-grasp controls, the Xbox Live Arcade edition of Minecraft looks poised to be the most approachable version of the game. We managed to spend a solid 30 minutes with it, and in that time, we learned the basics, killed some enemies, and managed to build a fairly decent house. We didn't get a chance to start decorating the place, but if we had more time, we would have been able to do so.
There is still a lot that hasn't been revealed in regard to what we can expect once the game hits Xbox Live Arcade in 2012. We know there will be both Kinect support and multiplayer, but how those two aspects are implemented will be talked about sometime down the road. It will also be interesting to see how different this version ends up being from the PC and mobile versions, especially in regard to how much freedom Microsoft allows for making changes post launch. Expect to see and read more about Minecraft on XBLA during the next few months.