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Minecraft (Better Together update)

Minecraft has changed a lot since its alpha days of being a PC-exclusive indie game. They’ve added features, many being welcome features (the nether) while some being rather controversial (an ending). Later, they put that on consoles and on phones, and now it’s on the New Nintendo 3DS.

 

Just a few days ago, they released the definitive version of Minecraft, known as the Better Together Update, which is an update to the Pocket Edition version of Minecraft (or the Windows 10 Edition if you’re on Windows 10). The main point of this update is that it brings cross platform play with Windows 10, Android, iOS, macOS, Xbox One, and (soon) the Nintendo Switch thanks to Microsoft’s Xbox Live service. Before, it was just Windows 10, iOS, and Android, and I guess by releasing the Pocket Edition (which, functionality wise, is most on par with the Java and console versions) for console, this brings these platforms together.

 

How do I get it?

If you own the Java version, you can get a free key for it on Mojang.com. If you own the Xbox One version, you can get it for free, too. If you own the Nintendo Switch version, you will be able to get it for free when it comes out this winter.

 

Otherwise, you can get Minecraft for these prices:

  • Windows 10* - $26.99
  • Xbox One - $19.99**
  • Nintendo Switch Edition - $29.99**
  • Google Play - $6.99
  • iOS App Store - $6.99

*Even if you want the Windows 10 version, I highly recommend buying the Java version from the Minecraft store, as it costs the same and comes with a key for the Windows 10 version. You get two for the price of one.

**Xbox Live Gold ($9.99/1 month or $59.99/year) or Nintendo Switch Online ($3.99/1 month or $19.99/year) will be required to play Minecraft online if on a console.

 

What’s different?

For Pocket Edition, this is just a regular update. For others, there are quite a lot of differences.

 

As a start, you get a How to Play menu which tells you how to play the game. If you already know how to play Minecraft, you probably won’t learn anything from this menu.

 

Next, you get a new crafting menu, and things are grouped differently. The things you can craft or spawn in creative mode are shown on the left and shown in four categories: construction, equipment, items, and nature. This is a bit different from the Java version which has different categories in survival mode, but has a much more organized creative mode interface.

 

You can also opt to use the Pocket user interface even if you’re on a controller or a mouse, and this shows a more compact interface that you navigate differently. This interface seems to be best for smartphones which have small screens, as the classic interface seems a lot better on both my PC and on my iPad Mini.

 

What's good?

Stock Minecraft just seems to look a lot better now, compared to the Java version. One welcome improvement to the game is the addition of anti aliasing. This option isn’t available on the Java version, and it does wonders to the jagged edges of blocks. Colors are also more saturated, too, and this makes oceans look a bit prettier now (in my opinion).

 

To further add to this, performance is a lot better on this version than the Java version. When setting the render distance to the highest supported setting, 60, and while overlooking a forest while standing in place high in the air and everything has loaded, my PC maintains 60 frames per second without breaking a sweat. If I have a similar view on the Java version with 32 chunks, the maximum render distance for that version, the frame rate drops to 54 FPS or less. Basically, on the Java version, I get worse performance on just over half the render distance and with none of the anti-aliasing.

 

9xGFmP0.png

 

Lastly, skins can now be changed in the middle of a game. On the Java Edition, you would have to rejoin the server for the new skin to take effect, but here, you seem to be able to change your skin even in the middle of a game. However, you don’t get the ability to hide/show parts of the overlay layer of your skin like you could in the Java version. Skins are the same format as the Java versions.

 

What are the drawbacks?

Minecraft is a game that was meant to be played with as many people as possible, and at least on paper, having cross-platform play makes sense, but even so, this version does have its own problems.

 

One problem is that there is little to no modding support. Sure, there are behavior packs and you can still make custom texture packs, but that’s it. Although the original Java version never actually officially supported mods, it does have a wide variety of community-made mods which can add countless features to the game. Those don't work here, as the game isn't written in Java.

 

Another problem is that vSync is now forced in the game. While this may not be a problem for people who are already used to this being forced on in the console version and pocket edition, it’s a real pain in the ass with someone who played the PC version without vSync for so long. While Minecraft isn’t an eSports first person shooter title, the extra input lag really throws me off.

 

It also seems there are options for split screen such as HUD opacity, yet in the PC and mobile versions, there doesn’t seem to be any way to actually play in split screen (that I can tell). It is most likely that these options were mistakenly left in there by the console version, and news sources say this is a console-only feature. Even so, they should not be here.

 

Yet another problem is that there is no dedicated server software out, currently. Although the game supports direct IP connectivity, there’s nothing to connect to. Your only options right now are to either play one of the three servers, get Minecraft Realms, or join someone’s game in progress.

 

Many world options are missing from this version compared to the Java version (and from what I’ve heard, the Console editions). You can’t pick a custom superflat world (superflat is just grass/dirt/bedrock right now), nor do you get amplified worlds. You do get “Old” worlds which limit your world size to 256x256, but these aren’t beatable as the Nether and End worlds are disabled. Even if they weren’t, many worlds spawn the end portal well outside of the 256x256 area.

 

There are also some differences with redstone, as it uses the same redstone mechanics as Pocket Edition. Pistons are a lot slower and redstone burnout works a bit differently. Quasi-connectivity doesn't work here, so builds that rely on certain block update detector mechanisms may not work here, either. Some redstone machines that may have worked on the Java version may not work properly on here.

 

For example, here is the Java version of the game:

Rf7RAvh.png

 

And here's Minecraft (Better Together):

6PSNLct.png

 

Lastly, and this is probably the biggest problem: not everyone gets this version of the game. Sure, if you have a mobile device, you have the Xbox One version, you have the Switch version (and a time machine), or you play the Windows 10 version for some reason, you can download this version without any problem. However, if you’re on Linux, macOS, Windows 7 or 8, PlayStation 4, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, or any of the 7th generation consoles, you aren’t getting a Better Together update.

 

Should you play this?

If you like Minecraft, you want the nice new things (controller support, anti aliasing, better performance, and most importantly, cross-platform play), and you’re willing to live with the aforementioned cons, then this is something you should consider playing. In terms of being cross-platform, then out of all current major multiplatform games, this has the broadest support, as you have many ways to play the game now without compromising who you can play with.

 

However, this version doesn’t have access to Java servers, nor is there currently any option for dedicated servers aside from Realms. You also have to live with vanilla Minecraft. If you’re not okay with this, then do not get this version.

 

What happens to the Java version of the game?

So far, all Mojang has said is that they’ll change the name of the Java version to Minecraft: Java Edition and change the name of the Minecraft: Pocket Edition, Windows 10 Edition, etc. to just Minecraft. The Java version will continue to get updates as usual for the foreseeable future, however long this future is.

 

Pros:

  • Cross platform play with PC, mobile devices, and console online through Xbox Live or via LAN
  • You can change your skin without having to leave the game
  • Runs better than the Java version
  • Greater render distances
  • Anti-aliasing
  • Full support for controllers

 

Cons:

  • Not compatible with Linux, macOS, Windows 7 (or 8), Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation 4, Wii U, or any of the 7th generation consoles
  • No dedicated server software
  • Limited modding support
  • Less world options
  • Different Redstone
  • Forced vSync
Sunstriker7 and Tucker933 like this

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Members of Open Carnage never see off-site ads.

If they released it for windows 7 I'm all in no questions asked.

 

They've been needing to strive for a universal Minecraft for a while. It seems they're finally heading in that direction. I'm aware of the immense amount of time and resources such a project takes, and so I'm okay waiting a good long while for that to happen.

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49 minutes ago, ShikuTeshi said:

That's a no go for me. Modding is the only thing giving replay value to minecraft imo.

as someone who's currently doing the ATM and Age of Engineering packs, and has ONLY played modded for at least 4 years, i agree.


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<00:52:19> "Pandora": dance bitch dance

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4 hours ago, ShikuTeshi said:

That's a no go for me. Modding is the only thing giving replay value to minecraft imo.

I wouldn't say it's the only thing considering that many people actually continue to play the console versions which have no modding support at all. In fact, before Better Together, you didn't even get custom skins on console. I think it's more of several things that keeps people on Minecraft. The main thing is that you can't really run out of things to do, even after beating the ender dragon and the wither. If you want to build, you have a pretty big sandbox of things to build with, including redstone, so you can let your imagination go wild here. If you want to explore, the world is procedurally generated, and there isn't any limit here, either. They also continue to add content to the game, expanding your options even further.

 

For the PC version, though, I do agree that modding is its strongest point and is what makes it, objectively speaking, the best version of Minecraft you can play. If they can't put proper modding support on the Bedrock engine, then aside from the little things like better performance and controller support, I wouldn't see any justification for anyone wanting to leave the Java version.


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I can potentially understand the current lack of modding support but I agree that it would be a stupid move on their part to not support it eventually.

This coming from someone who has barely played with any mods and quite enjoys stock.

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14 hours ago, Sunstriker7 said:

I can potentially understand the current lack of modding support but I agree that it would be a stupid move on their part to not support it eventually.

This coming from someone who has barely played with any mods and quite enjoys stock.

Yeah. It probably wouldn't be the same extent that you'd have on the Java version. While technically the Java version never supported modding, because it was written in Java, you can change different parts of it by decompiling them and editing it with your own code, then stick the modified files into the .jar file. Changing the game's code is not something either platform would allow.

 

Basically, Mojang would actually have to have actually go out of their way and construct an API among other things to support mods in such a way that would satisfy everyone, and this would be limiting compared to what you can do on Java.


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