Picture the scene: it’s dark and you’re in a strange land. Every few steps you fall into a stream which can be difficult to get out of. You then hear a strange noise and realise a creeper, a zombie like creature, is coming towards you.
Welcome to the world of Minecraft! A little over a week ago, I had never played Minecraft but this all changed when we were sent an Xbox One S Minecraft Edition to review.
You can read what we thought of the console in this blog post, in which I gave my first impressions. A week down the line, I’m going to tell you how Helen, my eight year old daughter and I, have been getting on playing Minecraft.
As a father, I will admit I had some reservations about Minecraft. I had heard stories about some kids getting hooked and using it far too much.
That said, we have allowed our kids some limited access to some computer games. The quality of them has generally always left me feeling underwhelmed and if they’re going to play a game, better make it child-friendly and good quality.
Minecraft is a world away from Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto. It ticks the ‘family entertainment’ box and I had heard no one criticising its quality.
If you want to see a video of how we’ve got on with Minecraft, click play on the video below.
How does it work?
After a week of playing, I have to say we are still finding our way around the game. There are several different modes to play in and we have barely ventured out of ‘creative’ mode.
In this mode you gather – or ‘mine’ – items that you can use later on such as wood, blocks of stone or food. You have to build yourself a shelter to hide from the creepers that come out at night. If they find you, it’s game over.
This being Minecraft, however, it is a relatively simple process to ‘re-spawn’ IE come back to life.
There are other modes such as ‘survival’. We have played in survival mode a little and you do have to be more wary of the bad guys.
Based on my experience so far, Minecraft is a long way from a shoot-em-up. It may be that as you get more advanced things get a little more, shall we say, physical. Over a week of playing, however, I haven’t seen anything to cause me concern.
Something I wasn’t aware of is that Minecraft comes in a variety of different themes. You can play it in Greek mode or Chinese mode where the setting reflects these cultures. You can even play in Festive mode which doffs its hat to Christmas with snow on the ground, decorations and tin soldiers guarding various buildings.
In the modes we have played, Minecraft has been a surprisingly calming experience. The background music has always been slow in tempo and relaxing and it’s not exactly a high-adrenaline action game. As it doesn’t wind the kids up, Minecraft gets my approval on this front.
What’s with all the cubes and blocks?
This is the Minecraft signature. Everything in the Minecraft world is built from blocks. All the characters, trees, animals etc. is cuboid in nature. It looks a little strange, but it forces you to think creatively and, from a parental point of view, strengthens the message the game is all make-believe.
I consider this final point to be very important. I don’t want my kids to get too sucked into the world of computer games and keeping everything make-believe simply reinforces the point that Minecraft is a fantasy world.
Playing on the Xbox One S
In addition to having never played Mineraft, I’d also never used an Xbox (yes, true). I can’t really make a comparison with anything else.
What I can tell you is that setting up the console was easy. Downloading Minecraft was also straightforward.
Xbox has produced a video showing how to set up the Xbox One S. You can watch it by following this link.
For Helen and I, the hardest part was getting used to the wireless controller. It comes with two little joysticks. The one on the left controls the perspective you view the game and some of the choices on offer make playing the game quite difficult because you can’t see what is around you. This caused a little confusion at first but after a week of practice, we’ve figured out what we are doing.
There are several security settings on the Xbox One S. I’ve set the machine up with the highest security settings so Helen must ask me to sign in before playing a game. If the console is to be used by adults or older children, you can relax things a bit.
The Xbox One S is also set up so you can go online and game with others. In deference to Helen’s age, however, I have configured the console that it must be played offline. I simply don’t want her gaming with strangers elsewhere on the internet.
As a family completely unused to gaming, we’ve set up and got to grips with the Xbox One S very quickly. It is very simple to use.
Helen and I have also enjoyed playing Minecraft, both individually and together. I wouldn’t give her unrestricted access to this or any other game, but I’m quite happy for her to play the game and it is better than games she has previously played. In the modes she is playing and with the parental controls set as high as they are, it all seems like wholesome entertainment.
Further information and where to buy
For further information or to buy the Xbox One S Minecraft Edition, visit the Xbox Family hub. At the time of writing its recommended retail price was £249.99.
Disclosure: Post produced in association with Xbox. Items provided for review purposes. Thoughts and opinions entirely my own.