Minecraft: PlayStation 4 Edition Review

Blocky empires.

To say that Minecraft is a game about digging and building huts to protect you from zombie attacks is to only scratch the surface of its immense depth. Minecraft has evolved considerably since it release to PC more than five years ago. Its boundaries have been tested by its community, which has birthed stunning castles and cities, as well as music machines, calculators, and tender homages to popular television shows and film. While the game eventually made a home on consoles, the aging hardware of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 kept Minecraft's voxel world restrained by an invisible border.

Minecraft: PlayStation 4 Edition shatters that barrier, allowing you to fully experience seemingly endless worlds in which to explore and create. The stretching horizon, combined with better performance and sharper aesthetics, do not only make this version of Minecraft the best you can find on modern consoles. The boundless delight in creation, coupled by challenging exploration, all shouldered by supreme accessibility, makes Minecraft: PlayStation 4 Edition one of the best games to own on PlayStation 4.

Minecraft drops you into a vast, procedurally-generated world, armed with only a map and your imagination. Typically, the first order of business, after taking in your surroundings, is to find the nearest tree and give it a few good whacks with a blocky fist until it drops wood for construction. Your first tools are modest: a wooden pickaxe for tearing into hillsides for coal or rare ore, or an axe to gather more lumber. But it doesn't take long before you upgrade to stone tools, and later you'll have iron to construct more efficient tools. Crafting and equipping a sword is always wise, as dangerous monsters thrive in the darkness, roaming the lands once the square sun has fallen. You also wouldn't want to be ill-prepared to match up against a shuffling zombie or explosive creeper deep in a labyrinthine mineshaft.

There is an immense feeling of satisfaction in Minecraft's construction. You start small, perhaps constructing a humble shack made of wood or dirt. As time goes on, projects become more substantial. A multi-roomed cabin in the forest starts with but a foundation and a dream. But a house in the woods is only one of many options. A walk through the jungle, with its trees scraping against the sky, could spur the creation of a tree house. Digging into the side of a mountain for precious building materials can turn into a project to create an immense underground lair. And because any project is one borne of your own vision, there is an enormous sense of pride in accomplishing a build.

Check out that draw distance.
Check out that draw distance.

The joy of Minecraft is not just derived from delving into caves or constructing homes, but also with exploration and interacting with the world around you. Combing an arid desert can reveal an ancient temple constructed of skillfully carved sandstone. Braving its darkness and bypassing its deadly trap leaves you rewarded with chests full of treasure. Finding a neighboring town filled with A.I.-controlled villagers provides an ample opportunity for trade. Or, if you're feeling villainous, you can steal their books or dig up their crops before continuing your adventure. You can till the land to create a plentiful garden of wheat, potatoes, or carrots. Slap together some sticks and string and you have a fishing pole for when you want to relax by the water's edge after a long day of spelunking through caves. Minecraft is a sandbox game filled with activities for any mood, whether that means getting your happiness from scavenging abandoned mines, or from watching the sun go down from the safety of your hand-constructed home.

The environment is constructed of blocks, which comprise everything from the dirt beneath your feet to the many species of trees that dot the landscape. Animals, plants, monsters, and even the clouds above are made up of sharp angles and bright hues. It's a distinct look, one that has made its many iconic building blocks and creatures instantly recognizable. Minecraft's landscape is a patchwork of divergent biomes. It's common to see snow-capped hills sharing borders with an arid desert spotted with cacti. Dark-oak forests can be shadowed by a nearby jungle biome, bright green and full of life, home to dense, choking flora and wild ocelots. All the while, blue, polygonal rivers and seas slice into the land. It's a daunting sight, and you can't be blamed for feeling a little overwhelmed. Fortunately, the game is glad to offer some guidance.

The PlayStation 4 version of Minecraft is bigger and better than it was on the previous generation.

Minecraft: PlayStation 4 Edition is a lot more accessible than the PC version. This is thanks to an in-depth tutorial system, which makes learning about the many aspects of the game as painless as turning the pages of a book. Tooltips pop up in the game, featuring information on materials and their many uses. If you're curious about anything, from how to use a furnace to building a staircase, a press of the button is all it takes to find out more information. If you're still feeling lost, the impressively detailed tutorial map can guide you on your way. Starting with the basic mechanics, the tutorial gently eases you into the most complicated aspects of crafting, including potion-brewing and enchanting. Playing Minecraft with friends or family is also a snap. On the PC, setting up servers can be a nightmare; on the PlayStation 4, you can easily invite up to seven others join you online via the PlayStation Network. Or, if you prefer keeping your friends close, Minecraft supports four-player cooperative split-screen play.

That is really a rather poor house, Steve.
That is really a rather poor house, Steve.

Minecraft is bigger and better on the PS4 than it was in its previous console iterations. The map size is enormous, and coming in at around 37 times larger than what was possible on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. But it should be noted that the size is measured by volume, including the air above and ground below. Before, the map was a large square bordered by an endless ocean, and you were met by an invisible wall if you attempted to go outside your box. Minecraft: PlayStation 4 Edition stretches far beyond that barrier, providing a vast expanse of new lands to discover and caves to plunder. The version also outperforms its prior iterations, offering a further view distance, as well as improved frame speed, more anti-aliasing for sharper visuals, and faster world loading. Another improvement comes with the quick save feature. Minecraft no longer pauses the game in order to save progress. Putting a bow on the package is a much-welcome updated musical score, which provides some excellent tunes for any activity, whether that means digging for treasure or building a new house.

With the amount of activities available, there's no telling which ones you will say are your favorite, and the reason you have to keep coming back time after time. Hunting down elusive diamonds in twisting catacombs is thrilling, but maybe you find that crafting a boat and lazily floating down a river to unknown shores to be more gratifying. Regardless of how you derive your enjoyment, Minecraft: PlayStation 4 Edition has countless hours of it, whether you explore its lands alone or alongside some good friends.

Minecraft is featured on our list of the best Xbox co-op games, best PS4 multiplayer games, and Best Xbox Games for Kids.

The Good

  • Clean, colorful aesthetics
  • Crafting is incredibly enjoyable
  • No more world barriers
  • Superb performance and accessibility

The Bad

About the Author

Cameron Woolsey has traveled the worlds of many sandbox games, but always seems to come back to Minecraft. In his time playing the game on PlayStation 4, he built several houses, traveled to the nether, boated along a snaking river, and accidently set himself on fire about a dozen times.