What is Minecraft?
Minecraft is a sandbox/survival game that was made public in 2009 and officially released in 2011. It features an infinite procedurally-generated world made of cubes that has many locations, items, and creatures to discover. There are two different main game modes. The first is survival, in which the goal is to gather resources and craft items such as weapons and armor that will allow you to survive against monsters and eventually kill the Ender Dragon. The second is creative, where the player has access to infinite resources and the goal is to use them to build anything imaginable. Players can also create servers that can host hundreds of people and create their own textures, minigames, and modifications for the game.
My History with Minecraft
I discovered Minecraft when I was a kid in 2013. I played a demo for it and had a lot of fun just messing around digging holes in the ground and dying sheep different colors. I watched a ton of let's play videos until my parents finally got me the game. The first thing I did was build a big rectangular house in creative mode out of many different blocks and fill it with ocelots and wolves. I have now been playing Minecraft consistently (at least every couple of months) for almost a decade. It is the only game I have not gotten bored of and needed to put away for years or for the forseeable future. Why is that?
Creativity and Uniqueness
Minecraft offers a lot of ways for the player to be creative. You can choose or create your own skin for yourself and your own textures for every block, item, and creature in the game. You can also build anything you want. No two worlds or servers are the same. You can even customize the way a world is generated. There are many other games that have procedurally generated worlds and outlets for creativity, so why is Minecraft my favorite?
My favorite thing about Minecraft by far is the wide range of player-made mods available. They continue to keep the game interesting and fun for me over the years. There are thousands available, and they each add to or change the game in unique ways. You can choose different mods depending on your interests and what kind of game you feel like playing. Do you want to explore other dimensions? Create your own NPCs? Build a zoo and fill it with dozens of different animals? Drive a car? Outwit and slay mythical beasts - or befriend them? Build a rocket and travel to space? There are mods for you! Below I have chosen to highlight some of my favorite mods and explain why they are my favorites.
Mo' Creatures is a mod that adds dozens of new creatures to the game. It adds real world animals such as big cats, bears, deer, and bunnies as well as fantasy creatures such as wyverns, ogres, manticores, and giant scorpions you can ride with a saddle. Most of the creatures in this mod can be tamed and given a name. This was especially useful before the name tag item was added to Minecraft, which lets you name any creature.
This was the first Minecraft mod I ever used. I was drawn to it because my biggest gripe with Minecraft was the lack of animals in the vanilla game - when I was first playing the game, there were only a few different kinds. I have many great memories of searching for and taming animals in survival mode, and building huge houses and stables to keep them in in creative mode. I also love that the creatures all have unique behaviors and details - moles burrow in the ground, snakes can be picked up and held on your shoulders, seeds thrown on the ground attract birds, and big cats can be bred for hybrids like ligers. Additionally, I love the fantasy elements, like the ability to keep pets in amulets and essences that can give creatures magical properties.
My favorite creature in this mod is the horse. The early iteration of the horse was blocky and a little awkward-looking, only coming in a few different colors. Later, an update released that gave horses a new model, high-resolution textures, and many different variations. There are many inspired by real horse colors as well as mythical horses, such as unicorns, pegasi, nightmares, and my personal favorites, the fairy horse (which comes in many different colors itself; pink is pictured above) and the bat horse. The community as well as Minecraft's developers liked these horses so much that they were used as a base to add horses to Minecraft!
However, I still prefer the Mo' Creatures horses because of the fantasy variants and more complex genetics. Sadly, this mod has not been updated in years. I hope it makes a comeback.
Fossils and Archaeology is a mod that adds dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures. While mining for resources, you can discover fossils underground and analyze them with a machine in the hopes of recovering the DNA of a prehistoric creature. You can then bring the creature to life and raise it from birth. They will grow up, mate, and have babies, so you can watch your family of creatures grow over time. You need to provide them with food and an enclosure, and it can be dangerous looking after predatory creatures like the T. rex. You can also revive prehistoric plants and discover ancient artifacts such as vases and stone tablets.
This is another one of the first mods I used. I have always liked games where you can revive dinosaurs from fossils - before this, I really liked the Zoo Tycoon 2 dinosaur expansion and Fossil Fighters: Champions. I have fond memories of building dinosaur enclosures and searching for artifacts underground and in ancient buildings and shipwrecks. My favorite creatures are the velociraptor and the smilodon. The revamped version of this mod, Fossils and Archaeology: Revival, is still being updated to this day.
MCPatcher Random Mobs
So, there are a lot of mods like this now, but this was a huge huge huge deal to 2013 me. Minecraft animals normally just have one texture each, but this mod lets you add as many as you want. It also makes other small changes to the game. I spent hours gathering wolf textures online and adding them to the list, then going into creative mode and mass-spawning wolves. Then I would build doghouses for them and make up backstories for them. A couple times I even remember "breeding" two wolves and trying to design a hybrid between them. This is the mod's menu - it is very nostalgic for me.
The wolf textures I remember using the most were the ones from this thread from 2011. The individual textures and screenshots unfortunately now have watermarks on them, but there is still a .rar file available that contains everything!
This mod adds a dimension of islands floating in the sky called The Aether. It contrasts Minecraft's Nether dimension, which is full of lava and very hell-like. The Aether is full of mystical creatures like flying whales and pigs and has dungeons that can be conquered for loot. There are many fun things to discover, such as blue clouds that act as trampolines.
I love this mod because the dimension is a lot of fun to explore and build in. It was another one of the first mods I used - I remember desparately trying to get it to work so I could play with it. My favorite creatures from this mod are the moas - giant birds that you can hatch from eggs and fly around on. They come in a few different colors, and The Aether's successor, The Aether II, gives them a new model and a genetics system. The Aether and The Aether II are still being updated to this day.
Pixelmon is a mod that essentially turns Minecraft into an open-world Pokemon game. It adds Pokemon from every generation as well as items and systems from the Pokemon games. You can have Pokemon battles with NPCs that spawn in the world or with other players. There are also gyms that you can challenge.
I love Pixelmon because it combines two of my favorite games - Minecraft and Pokemon. I have been using this mod for years. I have used it in single player (I once remember just herding Pokemon into a booth and trying to hit them with Pokeballs like a carnival game), but now it is my favorite mod to use on servers. I have a lot of fond memories of playing on Pixelmon servers and being part of their communities. The Pokemon used to have blocky Minecraft models, but now they have regular 3D models. We have Scarlet/Violet and Legends now, but back in the 2010s, this was the closest thing I could get to an open-world Pokemon game, which I always wanted. Pixelmon: Reforged, the successor to the original mod, is still being updated to this day.
Genetic Animals is a mod that replaces Minecraft's animals with new versions that have more realistic models and a complex genetics system. The animals come in countless variations, and you can breed them to replicate real animal breeds or make your own. The mod currently affects cows/mooshrooms, chickens, sheep, pigs, llamas, rabbits, axolotls, and turtles. There are plans for all of Minecraft's other animals (dogs, cats, horses/donkeys, goats, foxes, parrots, and bees). There are also plans to give animals distinct personalities. The mod also adds dyeable accessories like collars and bridles that you can put on your animals.
This is my favorite mod that does not have any nostalgia attached to it. It is a staple in almost any new singleplayer save I start. I love the huge amount of variety the animals have and I always enjoy going out and looking for new and interesting animals to bring home and breed for new combinations. I love genetics and games where you can breed animals, so this mod is perfect for me.
I have been following this mod's development since it first came out in 2019. Originally there were only chickens, and then there were also very unstable sheep that ended up corrupting one of my saves. I am really happy with how far this mod has come and I am excited for its future - I am particularly excited for dogs to be added.
This is a list of mods that I really like but don't feel strongly enough about to give their own entire section.
Advent of Ascension - A mod that adds RPG-like stats and a progression system to Minecraft as well as several new dimensions to explore and dozens of monsters to fight. It is very fun and adds a whole new layer of challenge to Minecraft, but I only use it on occasion as I usually prefer to chill and farm.
Carry On - A mod that allows you to carry chests full of items and small animals. It is a small mod, but it is a game-changer for me and makes moving items and animals much easier. I always pair it with Genetic Animals so I can move animals between pens (and I can even carry cows because of a glitch). I once caught a wolf pup as it was falling into a ravine and it made me feel really cool.
Custom NPCs - A mod that lets you make your own NPCs with a lot of customization options. This was one of the first mods I used, and I have a lot of fond memories of playing around with it.
DoggyStyle (bear with me) - A mod that adds many dog breeds and customizable dog houses for them to live in. This is one of my favorite dog-centric mods and I remember using it a lot. Unfortunately, it has been abandoned.
Gempire - A mod that allows you to grow gems from the show Steven Universe that can help you with different tasks. Most mods based on a TV show/other game/etc. just have characters from it spawn in the world, but this integrates systems from Steven Universe into the game rather than characters. There was a period where I was very into Steven Universe and used this mod a lot. It is unfortunately on an indefinite hiatus.
Ice and Fire - A mod that adds mythical creatures like dragons, gorgons, cyclopes, sea serpents, and fairies. I like the mod a lot but I tend not to use it often as it is very combat-focused.
The Lion King - A mod that adds a dimension based on The Lion King, where you can complete quests and find locations and characters from the movie. I have fond memories of this one and used it a lot when I was younger.
More Creeps and Weirdos - A very old mod that adds wacky mobs like hot dogs and aliens. This might have been the second mod I ever used, and I was drawn to how unique it is.
Realistic Horse Genetics - A mod that gives horses and donkeys realistic genetics. I like it a lot more than vanilla Minecraft's basic horse genetics but I do wish the horses could vary in shape.
Simply Cats - A mod that adds adorable cats with realistic genetics that you can adopt from animal shelters in villages. I would like if they spawned in the wild as villages can be difficult to find and not all villages have shelters.
Vampirism - A mod that adds vampires, vampire hunters, and the ability for the player to become either of these. I find it fun to sometimes play as a vampire as there is the added challenge of not being able to be out during the day, but you also unlock powers like night vision and turning into a bat.
Wildcraft - A mod that gives wolves realistic genetics, and with enough breeding, they can express dog traits. It also adds stats to wolves that can be leveled up as your wolves kill mobs and gain experience. I think this mod shows a lot of promise, but it has not been updated in a while and has some weird temporary stuff, like wolves being bred with baked potatoes and not using up food items when you feed them.
Zoo and Wild Animals Mod - A mod that adds dozens of different wild animals to the world. You can just watch them or you can tame them and build a zoo to keep them in. I should love this mod in theory, but there are a lot of animals that attack you and spawn in large groups, which tends to put me off using it.
This game means a lot to me - thank you for reading what I had to say about it!
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