Ever since Microsoft bought Mojang I have wondered what they were going to do with Minecraft. I mean it is a simple sandbox game with no narrative, what could they do? Pyramid blocks instead of cube blocks? I have not been able to think of what they could do in the past but thanks to their first mini game I see some interesting things on the horizon for Minecraft.
Minecraft has introduced mini games, the first of which will be released soon called Minecraft Battle. The idea is simple, a predesigned limited minecraft map and you fight to the death and let me tell you, it is pretty damn fun. Spending an hour in the Minecraft Battle mode gave me a breathe of fresh air in a game that have spent many hundreds of hours.
The game mode is a last man standing deathmatch in very much a Hunger Games style. Each player spawns in the map facing the centre where there is a structure with chests containing weapons and potions. There is a countdown then a race for the middle to claim the weapons first, but to keep the massacre out of the centre there is an invincibility period. Post invincibility period it is on.
There are other chests spread out around the arenas and all of the chests randomly refill throughout the match, and one by one the players fall. To keep being a player interesting, after you die you respawn as a bat with two abilities, to fly around and effect nothing and to squeak, because you can. While it is not exactly the same as getting to fight, it provides a little light entertainment while the match finishes, or you can just switch to watching other players if flying and squeaking does not hold your attention. It held mine for a long time as I died quickly, a lot. There is also a countdown timer you can set that once it hits puts players names up on the map, so if someone is hiding scared that is only a strategy that works for a while.
The online multiplayer allows for battles of up to eight players and local co-op is limited to four, which is plenty for the size of the arenas. There is enough space to run around, climb and hide, but not so much you will spend too much time just running around a map. The three maps available in the preview will be the three maps available at launch and all three were an absolute blast to play in. Microsoft has advised that there will be more available in time but they will cost, but the game mode and first three maps are going to be free for Minecraft owners. I have been told there is going to be matchmaking made available in some form, but have not seen that yet.
The one thing I did find crazy was Microsoft are making a good move and this mode is coming to PS4 and Wii U, not just Xbox consoles, which to be honest I was surprised by and would not have judged them for keeping it a Microsoft Minecraft thing, which I will not complain about.
To the really hardcore Minecraft players this may not seem like something new as it has existed in ways via user generated content, this is just a way that Microsoft is making it easier to access and enjoy the content. It will also mean it opens itself up to the wider player base of people who may not have known how to dabble in these sorts of things. Personally I am looking forward to playing with this more at launch with some friends and seeing what other game modes Microsoft may have to offer in the world of Minecraft.