⭐ Games that receive this star have a score of 95% or above. This is purely from a game design perspective and is not in any way related to our morality evaluation.
Notice: Minecraft is continually updated with new content and sometimes, posts within game. This review was originally written after the 1.16 version of the game released in 2020. The Parental/Morality warnings section is accurate up through version 1.18.
Before reading this review, I should let you know that I think Minecraft is the greatest game of all time. Now, that doesn’t mean you should skip ahead – quite the opposite, in fact. The absolute brilliance of Minecraft was one of the leading reasons I wanted to write this review in the first place. The brilliance I am talking about is centered specifically around its replayability, accessibility, malleability and potential for community. In this somewhat special review, I will format my writing around these four points and then give judgements on the quality and morality aspects as usual. Even if you have been playing the game for years, I am quite confident this review contains new points and perspectives, including community building and evangelization, that you have far from fully realized.
So, let’s get into it.
The first of the four strengths: replayability
Minecraft has the most potential for replayability out of any game I have ever seen. Looking at just the standalone game (I will be mentioning mods* later) I seriously think if they were to never again push another update, I would still continue to come back to it for the rest of my life. I first played this game on an iPhone 3 back in 2012, and while I have not been playing it daily since then (obviously) I still get into phases at least once a year where I am playing it daily for a little while. One of the main reasons why I continue to come back to the game is because of its “sandbox” gameplay. You can create countless numbers of different bases and structures in creative and survival alone but things get even crazier when you use “command” blocks. These blocks run commands that allow you to create things such as teleportation devices or minigames. The blocks have led to the creation of thousands of player-created servers that host various types of minigames or in some cases, entire campaigns and mmorpgs**. Many of these servers have vast amounts of players, with the most popular one, Hypixel, housing an average of tens of thousands of players online at any given moment. That is more players than many, if not most, AAA online games. And that’s just ONE server on ONE of the many versions of the game.
*Mods is a shortening of the word modifications, which are essentially changes in the games code/data affecting how the game operates and are usually made by fans. They can be quite iffy legally depending on the circumstances, but in Minecraft’s case the developers have explicitly given the community permission to make mods – yay! This also means they are often free, at least on Java Edition, and tend to add things like new tools, enemies, and items.
**Mmorpg stands for “massively multiplayer online role-playing game”. These games usually have tons of real-life players together interacting in a fantasy world with different jobs and skills.
This segways perfectly into Minecraft’s second strength: accessibility.
As seen with the server I just mentioned above, Minecraft has an insanely huge player base. The game is so easy to pick up and play and available on so many platforms that most people of any age will be able to do at least something. In fact, at literally any time this year the game that the most people are playing worldwide is Minecraft. According to this blog post by Mojang, 126,000,000 of the 200,000,000 players play this game EACH MONTH. That’s just – insane. And oh yea, if you count the free-to-play Chinese version of Minecraft, you can add a cool 300 million installations to those 200 million paid ones. Combined that’s, what, half a BILLION? That means if Minecraft‘s player base was a country, it would be the third-largest in the world. If you couldn’t tell by this point, it is in fact literally the best selling game of all time. Kind of funny, since it was created by an obscure indie developer without any intention of large-scale success, much similar to one of its sales runner-ups, Tetris. Getting back on track though, this unfathomably large player base means that you will have no trouble finding people to play this with. And with so many players, Minecraft gives you the perfect opportunity of creating a.. community?!
It sure does, and in fact, community is Minecraft’s third strength I’d like to cover.
This game has great potential for community. Because so many people own the game, it is extremely easy to just boot up a server or realm and invite others to play. I have played on worlds with multiple Catholics before, and we have had fun building Churches or bases and overall just enjoying what the game has to offer. I have seen the youth group at my parish create a Minecraft server for kids to play on as well. The most inspiration I get for this topic, however, is from the YouTube series Hermitcraft. This series features two dozen different YouTubers who all play on the same server together.
Throughout each “season” they build hundreds of amazing structures and engage in hilarious shenanigans. My favorite thing they have done this season (which was season 7 when this review was originally written) is elect a mayor of their “shopping district” (a large-scale island that all the players build shops on) who promptly swaps out the mycelium ground for normal grass. Soon after this occurrence, a resistance begins in which several of the members build a secret underground base where they grow mycelium and begin to spread it back around the district. When met with resistance from the Mayor and his newly created counter-resistance known as H.E.P., the resisters strike back by releasing dozens of sheep and cows into the district that eat all of the normal grass.
While this is going on a third faction is created, hoping to bring the other two groups to a compromise, by swapping out both the mycelium and normal grass for a middle-of-the road kind of ground known as podzol. This is just one “storyline” that the amazing content creators have cooked up, and they will undoubtedly continue to create even better and funnier ideas in the future thanks to the unlimited potential offered by this game.
And speaking of unlimited potential, this brings me to the final strength: malleability.
Although it may surprise you, having a several-months long war over the best type of ground was not what Mojang had in mind while developing this game. The way the “Hermits” decide to play is not limited to the minds and ability of the developers. In a sense, everyone who plays Minecraft is a developer of the game. The vast majority of its success is attributed to the community and the things they have and will do in the future. It doesn’t matter whether you are changing the game’s internal code or simply messing with types of builds, you play it how you want. Plain and simple. This is the reason why whenever a game adds some sort of map editor or custom game creation tool, people nearly ALWAYS compare it to Minecraft in some way. Minecraft is an amazing example, if not the pinnacle of, freedom in gaming and has influenced the design of thousands of games in the past decade.
Minecraft is truly a different world, and as long as you can make sure you don’t get too caught up in it, it can be a very healthy and joyful way to interact with others. The absolute potential and incredible value you will get from this game makes it a very good purchase. I do have a few things to say, however, to those that are looking to buy.
1. There are two versions: Java Edition and Bedrock Edition. Java edition is the original version of Minecraft and is available only on PC, Mac, and Linux. Widely considered the “definitive version” of the game, it has the greatest community support with hundreds of thousands of people playing on different servers with a myriad of free mods available to download. Bedrock Edition is the version available on Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo Switch, Windows 10 and the App Store/Google Play. It has crossplay between all of these platforms and utilizes a special engine made specifically for Minecraft that allows it to run much smoother than on Java. While you are able to download things like custom resource packs and skins for free, you will have to pay for most of them with the virtual currency “mcoins”***. Mod support is present, although lacking compared to Java. I personally recommend getting the Java Edition, but either version is still great.
***Mojang gets a lot of negativity for this, but people usually forget that you can use ANY resource pack and skin FOR FREE if you have the file on your computer or phone (it is not possible on consoles unfortunately.) This is just a bit more difficult to do since most people who post free skins and resource packs online do so for the Java Edition only, so make sure you search specifically for Bedrock Edition packs.
2. As mentioned before, there is a big online community for this game. If you are looking to play with some people just be cautious of toxicity and rude language. Most big Minecraft servers do lean towards the family-friendly side though.
Priestly Comment by Fr. Samuel Beardslee:
“This game is a unique blend of exploration and creativity. In both cases, those with patience will enjoy this game thoroughly. If you find yourself (or someone else) struggling with the game, I’d encourage you to either change the settings or game modes to suit your playstyle, or to use the game (or the event in the game) as an opportunity to practice virtues like patience. Whether it’s building cathedrals or climbing mountains, this game is easy to bring God into, so long as you’re willing to let Him join you.”
One more thing! I decided to record a world tour video and published it on our YouTube channel. Watch it here or down below.
Scoring: 100% ⭐ (EXCELLENT SANDBOX GAME)
Graphics: 5/5 (Yes they are blocky, but it works perfectly for the game)
(Accurate as of August 28, 2022)
Occult/magic: You can enchant weapons and obtain magic items, make potions, and fight witches/the undead. The Nether dimension is based on hell. After beating the game there is a long poem that mentions gods and demons, discusses the creation of the universe, and according to Genius.com, reflects perennial philosophy. You can read it here.
Violence: You can fight and kill animals for that delicious steak, or zombies and skeletons to defend your home, but it is generally not very graphic (no blood, and enemies just fall over when defeated). The ancient cities found deep underground & the wardens that live within them could be quite scary for young players; they make loud noises and cause the player’s vision to go dark when nearby.
There is online compatibility (playing with other people), although that can be disabled if needed
Bedrock Edition contains microtransactions along with a community marketplace that features items/skins popular in secular culture like demon teenagers, sexualized characters (as much as you can manage with Minecraft characters, at least) pride skins, and the like. Larger Minecraft servers on either version tend to rely heavily on microtransactions as well.
Both editions feature the title screen splash texts (short quips that appear next to the title upon starting the game) “Your gender is valid!” and “Contains infinite genders!” You can fortunately remove or replace these with mods or resource packs.
Please note that new posts/articles by the developers are regularly released in all versions of the game and we are unable to cover those.