Minecraft is becoming popular again, but why now?

Everyone’s favorite blocky game from 2009 is suddenly making a resurgence, but not many returning players understand why.

When I first created a Minecraft account of my own, I was in my awkward middle school stage. Ten years later, I am a young adult in college booting up the same video game on my laptop. For anyone who is not aware, Minecraft is making a significant comeback, as verified by trends and statistics.

According to Google Trends, online searches for Minecraft peaked in 2012 and 2013. They have been on a steady decline since then — until 2019. This month, Google searches for the game boosted to 76 percent of their all-time high. It surpassed even Fortnite, arguably the most popular game in the world in the past year.

But what happened to resurrect an old favorite?

Well, it might have never died at all. While there is an influx of returning players, Minecraft has always had a steady player base. Mojang, Minecraft’s creator, cited a monthly player base of 91 million in 2018. The game’s claim to fame is validated by its whopping 176 million copies sold as of May, sturdily placing it in the slot for the second-highest selling game ever. The first? Tetris.

The number of players never truly diminished, allowing Minecraft’s dominance to sail under the radar. But various factors are revitalizing attention.

The family-friendly survival sandbox is a safe bet for content creators on video platforms. Minecraft was the king of YouTube in its heyday, so it is no surprise that it is reclaiming its crown. Advertisers are more keen to sponsor videos of a pix- elated character building a dirt hut than they are to endorse a gory M-rated shooter. Increased chances of monetization on platforms such as Twitch and YouTube means higher video output, which means more viewers and more players. Especially at a time when politicians blame violence on video games — an argument proven to have no justification — advertisers are cautious.

Another explanation is, of course, nostalgia. Like me, there are millions of people who played in middle school who are now in college. We can temporarily forget our responsibilities and the pressures of adulthood by visiting our favorite childhood game. I was curious as to whether the game lived up to the expectations of my sentimental memories, so I redownloaded it and hopped onto a server.

Even in my twenties, a game I played as a kid is still fun. Continual updates throughout the years sparked new interest. What became stale years ago is suddenly fresh again. Whether the hype lasts or starts to fade, I plan to indulge in the nostalgia Minecraft provides.

Minecraft Earth Android beta launches in five cities

Minecraft Earth’s closed beta has launched on Android in Seattle, London, Tokyo, Stockholm, and Mexico City, its developer Mojang announced today. If you’re lucky enough to have a beta invite and live in one of the launch cities, then you can start playing the augmented reality mobile game right now. You’ll need an AR-compatible device running Android 7 or above to play.

Today’s launch means that Minecraft Earth’s Android release is proceeding a little more slowly than it is on iOS since the beta launched on Apple’s operating system last month. However, Android users will get access to the game’s “Rubies” in-game currency before it launches on iOS. In a blog post announcing the start of the Android beta, the game’s developer says that the currency can either be earned through playing the game or bought directly, and any Rubies purchased will be attached to a user’s Xbox Live account and will carry through to the full release.

Minecraft Earth@minecraftearth

The Android beta is finally here! We’re hard at work rolling out the update in five cities: Seattle, London, Tokyo, Stockholm, and Mexico City. Happy crafting everyone!


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First announced back in May Minecraft Earth is an augmented reality version of Mojang’s open-world crafting game. Mojang’s eventual aim with the game is to cover the entire planet in Minecraft blocks, allowing you to craft with them and then explore your structures with other players. Check out Mojang’s Minecraft Earth FAQ for more information, or sign up for access to the beta here.

Minecraft is getting an AI assistant from Facebook and MIT

Minecraft is getting an artificial intelligence assistant, with Facebook and MIT working on the project. The goal is to develop an AI system that can multitask well instead of being “superhuman” at just one activity, MIT Technology Review said Thursday in a blog post.

Minecraft has over 90 million monthly players and just celebrated its 10th anniversary. Also coming soon is Minecraft Earth, a Pokemon Go-style AR mobile game, which is now in beta on iOS and Android. Minecraft developer Mojang was bought by Microsoft for $2.5 billion in 2014.

Facebook Research and MIT researchers are now working on an AI assistant that can interact with players and then perform a bunch of tasks on request. The assistant can also learn from these interactions, and develop new skills. They chose to use the game Minecraft for the project because it has “infinite variety” but simple and predictable rules.

“The opportunities for an AI to learn are huge,” the blog post said. “Facebook is setting itself the task of designing the AI to self-improve … the researchers think the Minecraft environment is a perfect one to develop this kind of learning.”

MIT said it's a challenging process, because even a simple request like “build a tower 15 blocks tall” requires the AI assistant to understand what a tower is, how to build one, how to measure the height, and to know what 15 is.

An early version of the AI assistant is already available to download.

Minecraft Earth, the groundbreaking future of the biggest game in the world, stars in the new issue of Edge magazine

In the five years since Microsoft acquired Minecraft for an industry-shaking $2.5 billion, the company has given little away about its vision for the future of the biggest game on the planet. Under Microsoft's stewardship, Mojang has improved the cadence of game updates, and done its bit to break down industry walls through cross-platform play. But its future direction has remained vague. Minecraft Earth changes all that. It does for Mojang's game what Pokemon Go did for Game Freak's – bringing it to life, wherever you are in the world, through augmented reality.

Success – likely on a remarkable scale – seems inevitable; the appeal of being able to build anything, anywhere, then make it life-size with a tap of a smartphone screen, is irresistible. But the game’s creation has been nowhere near as straightforward. In Edge 337, arriving soon with subscribers and on sale Thursday, September 12, we go behind the scenes of Microsoft's bid to catapult an already phenomenal success to even greater heights.

“Earth is as much a Microsoft project as a Minecraft one”

Minecraft these days is about more than Mojang; there's also a dedicated internal studio at Microsoft HQ in Redmond, Washington, and while Mojang has played a big role in the game’s development, it's the latter that’s done the heavy lifting. That's perhaps for the best: Earth is as much a Microsoft project as a Minecraft one, leaning heavily on the Azure cloud platform, and particularly its mixed-reality spatial anchors – a bespoke Microsoft technology that enables multiple users to see, and therefore work together on, the same AR Minecraft building project. It's also required expertise that not only Mojang lacks, but Microsoft also did until Minecraft Earth came along. How do you ensure a player’s safety when your game works anywhere in the world? This is not just the story of a Microsoft executive seeing Pokemon Go and their eyes turning to dollar signs. It's a complex, fascinating thing, and Edge has exclusive access behind the scenes of a project that marks the next evolution of one of the hottest videogame properties around.

Edge 337 goes on sale Thursday, September 12, available in all major UK newsagents and through digital stores worldwide. It looks like this:

Subscriber copies will begin arriving in the coming days, and feature this exclusive, stripped-back take on the newsstand design.

Here's a taste of what else awaits inside.

An Audience With… Helen Chiang

Helen Chiang is head of Minecraft, which is perhaps the coolest job title in the game industry. But what does that role involve? How do you effectively steer a course for something that operates on such an enormous scale? And how do you balance the very different needs of a passionate player community, and the suits who want to see a return on a colossal $2.5 billion investment? We ask all that, and plenty more besides, in a rare interview with the holder of one of the most important roles in games.

Rise Of The Robot

Speedruns are everything we love about videogames: lofty feats of player skill, powered by the passion of communities. But they are not perfect – or at least they weren’t, until TASbot came along. This heavily modified version of the NES buddy peripheral R.O.B. can be programmed to play games perfectly, and can even perform glitches to run unsigned, and unexpected, code during speedruns (if you haven’t seen Portal running at 5fps on a Nintendo 64, you haven’t lived). We tell the story of the bot's creation; of how initial scepticism gave way to acceptance, then to love; and how the tech behind it all might just change the way we play games.

The Making Of… Dead Cells

How did a little-known French developer, that had only ever made smartphone games, turn out a thrilling, award-winning action Roguelike on PC and console? Appropriately enough given the genre, Dead Cells was born from a project that was killed off, then brought back from the dead – twice.

Minecraft: Education Edition gets a Maori-inspired world for New Zealand students

Minecraft: Education Edition has found plenty of use in classrooms, the latest allowing students to explore New Zealand's traditional Māori culture in voxel form. 

Ngā Motu, which means The Islands, is a world made by game designer Whetu Paitai, of Coromandel-based Piki Studios, to teach children about Māori language and culture. It has kiwis and moa, and a traditional pā—a defensive settlement protected by palisades. There's a waka hourua double-hulled canoe in the harbor, and even the swords have been replaced by the short-handled clubs called patu.

“We're believers in learning being organic, being able to explore all the elements, because nothing in our lives exists in isolation. Our mission is for everyone to be able to play these games and see more than just what a waka is – they’ll be able to see how it fits into that whole world,” Paitai said.

Ngā Motu is being released to coincide with Māori Language Week in New Zealand. You can check it out for yourself at the official site.

Minecraft's New 10th-Anniversary Map Is Awesome And Hides A Few Secrets

Minecraft is celebrating its 10th anniversary since it was first released, back in 2009. To pay tribute to this milestone, Mojang teamed up with Blockworks to create a massive map covering the entire history of the popular game. And for those who dig deep, you might find a few secrets and Easter Eggs.

When I first spawned into the map I was greeted with a nice little entrance and a minecart ride. However, this ride is actually a wonderful ride through the history of Minecraft’s major updates. It feels like a dark ride from a place like Disneyland and features on-screen text to help tell you when an update was released and what it was called.

Once I finished that minecart ride down memory lane, I found myself surrounded by immense structures. This is the real meat of the map. It is huge. Each area is dedicated to different parts of Minecraft.

For example, you can find a large museum showcasing every block currently in the game and each one has a small piece of text you read. These provide background and history about the block, while also teaching players tricks and tips on how to use them.

Another section of the map contains every enemy and animal in the game but made larger. A few of these creatures are fairly new and I didn’t know what they were. Luckily, like the block museum, each creature and enemy has text that players can read to learn more.

There’s even a section of the map dedicated to the educational spin-off version of Minecraft. Like Epcot at Disneyworld, I basically ran through this and barely looked. But neat that it’s there.

Dotted around the entire map are huge structures, biome-domes, temples, paintings, statues and more. You could easily spend over a few hours in this map and not see or find everything.

The map also contains some puzzles and secrets. A player reported on the Minecraft subreddit that they had even found a book referencing the creepy meme character, Herobrine. Mojang teases in a blog post announcing the map that it contains multiple easter eggs. I haven’t found any, but other players are already digging into finding all the secrets this map contains.

If you are a huge fan of Minecraft you’ve probably already played this, but if you haven’t it’s worth checking out. Even if you only played a bit of the game a few years back, this map is so well made and chock full of information, I think most players will get a kick out of exploring it.

The map is available for free right now on all Bedrock versions of the game, which includes Xbox One, Switch, PC and mobile devices. It is also avaiable for the original Java version and Realms. Some players on Switch are reporting performance issues in some of the more complex areas of the map, so just a heads up.

Minecraft Players Are Celebrating 10 Years With Cakes, Artwork And More

Minecraft turns 10 this weekend and fans of the popular-blocky-game are celebrating this big milestone in various ways, like baking cakes in real life or sharing old stories and screenshots.

Last weekend, Minecraft developer Mojang released a new and free map to celebrate the big milestone. However, while that map was cool, it was also a bit early. This weekend (specifcally May 16th) is actually the official 10 year anniversary of the first release of Minecraft.

In game, players discovered that when baking a cake on the special day, they found a big white “10″ stuck on top of it. A small detail from Mojang honoring the big day.

Beyond this small cake topping, fans across Reddit and Twitter have been sharing tons of videos, photos, builds and more in honor of a decade of Minecraft.

One fan shared a handwritten letter they received from Jeb, a lead developer on the game, from nearly 10 years ago. When he sent his letter and received a response, he was 9 years old and in 5th grade.

Minecraft player and creator shared some new skins they made in honor of the celebrations. It shows the main default characters of Minecraft holding up cakes. The cake is actually the head and the shoulder is the top of the hands. A very clever design.

Another player showed off artwork they made celebrating the game’s 10-year anniversary.

Reddit user and Minecraft fan Muddy_Boy shared this amazing piece of art he created in-game. Each letter represents a major update the game received over the past 10 years. Reddit user Knight506 did something similar, but showed each up visually in a video.

A few players across Reddit and elsewhere shared images of some of their first builds or even their very first homes. Like Ryan-1- on the Minecraft subreddit, who shared a screenshot of their first dirt house.

This screenshot reminded me of my first dirt home.

I downloaded Minecraft and watched a short tutorial on how to play the game and jumped in. This was right near the release of the game and I scared of the night. The moment the sun started to slide down the sky, I panicked and dug out some dirt and made a small crappy home like this. After a few days of playing that first world, my small home was a castle. But in the middle of it all, was still my first home and chest.

JotaGHz shared a photo of their birthday cake, which is Minecraft themed as the player shares a birthday with the game.

Another player also shares a birthday with Minecraft and shared their cake on the Minecraft subreddit too.

If you want to see and read more memories of Minecraft from players all around the world you can check out the hashtag #MinecraftMemories on Twitter where players have been sharing stories and photos for the past week. The official Minecraft website rounded up some of their favorite tweets in a post.

What memories of Minecraft do you have? Do you remember the first time you built a home? The first time you joined a random server? The first skin you used? Share your memories and stories in the comments.

These Minecraft Wave Machines Are Extremely Satisfying To Watch

Minecraft is a game that lets players create basically anything they want, assuming that player has the time to do it. It also has Redstone, a resource that allows players to move, power and manipulate blocks in various ways. Combine this with the predictable and simple physics of Minecraft and you end up with some satisfying machines.

Over on the Minecraft subreddit, the community is making wave machines using different elements of Minecraft. For example, here’s a really cool wave machine using decorative armor stands.GIF: Sabinn16 (Reddit)

This one uses minecarts and would make a great screensaver if I used still used screensavers.
GIF: Nathanie512 (Reddit)

Another player created one that looks like water using lapis lazuli and  reprogrammable command blocks.

A more colorful creation uses various sand blocks in different shades to create a rainbow wave. Perfect for Pride Month.GIF: inadequatetacos (Reddit)

While these machines have become popular recently, they aren’t exactly new. People have been making these types of machines for years in Minecraft. One large one was created back in 2011 using sand blocks and like the newer ones, it is very satisfying to watch.

If we ever get a Minecraft theme park, maybe we this could be an attraction? Everyone jumps into a minecart and rides the wave.


After a relatively quiet first half of 2019, the fall release season is finally upon us, meaning there’s roughly one big game dropping just about every week until the end of the year!

Whether you’re interested in big RPGs like The Outer Worlds or GreedFall, or looking to squad up with some friends in games like Ghost Recon: Breakpoint or Borderlands 3, there’s undoubtedly something for everyone.

Check out our slideshow above, or scroll down to read more about all 22 of the biggest games releasing between now and the end of 2019.

Monster Hunter World: Iceborne

Release Date: September 6 (PS4, Xbox One, Steam in January, 2020)

Okay, this one is a gimme since it just came out, but it’s too good not to mention. Monster Hunter World was the series’ coming out party in the West, quickly becoming Capcom’s best-selling game of all-time in its first two months. Most recently, MHW surpassed 12 million copies shipped mark, an astonishing number if you consider that’s more than any single Resident Evil, Mega Man, or Street Fighter game ever sold. The first major expansion, Iceborne, takes the series to Hoarfrost Reach, the largest region in Monster Hunter World. Besides adding new locations, tons of new monsters, and many more quality of life improvements, what’s important is that you can finally pet your Palico.

Are you ready to dive in? Here are some things you should do to prepare for the new adventure. And, be sure to check out our review of the expansion, which we gave a 9.0.

Gears 5

Release Date: September 10 (Xbox One, PC, also available as part of Xbox Game Pass with early access beginning September 6)

Kait Diaz is back and looking to uncover the truth about her family’s mysterious past. In addition to a robust campaign mode that is said to feature the largest level in Gears’ history (fifty times larger than anything before it!). The team at The Coalition have also added an all-new PvE mode called “Escape”, as well as the return of Horde mode, plus some novelty character packs featuring Sarah Conner from Terminator, a set of Halo: Reach skins, and even Dave Bautista later this month.

In the meantime, why not check out the story trailer for Gears 5? Also, read our campaign review for Gears 5, which we scored an 8.8.


Release Date: September 10 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

GreedFall is an upcoming Action-RPG that takes place in The Old World, a fictional area inspired by 17th century Europe, that is suffering from a deadly, incurable plague known as Malichor. As De Sardet, the main character, you discover the remote Island of Teer Fradee, an area that has not been affected by the disease yet. Your goal is simple – scour this new land for a cure while embarking on quests, developing your character’s skills, and fighting to survive against fantastical creatures.

While you prepare for your journey, here’s 13 minutes of spoiler-free gameplay from GreedFall.

Borderlands 3

Release Date: September 13 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

Are you ready to venture back to Pandora, Vault Hunter? Borderlands 3 is the latest entry in the wildly popular cooperative looter shooter. Technically the fourth game in the core series, it introduces four new Vault Hunters: Moze the Gunner, Zane the Operative, Amara the Siren, and FL4K the Beasthunter.

You’ll now be able to travel to different planets while cruising the galaxy in your new ship, the Sanctuary III. There are a ton of quality of life improvements being added, including the ability to slide and vault over obstacles, a loot-pinging system similar to Apex Legends that includes contextual voice lines, loot-instancing that allows players to gain their own loot (instead of fighting over it with others), and more. Oh, and there are over 1 billion guns in the game. Happy hunting.


The beat ‘em up, or “brawler”, is a classic video game genre, and at PAX West I played two distinctly modern takes on the brawler: Streets of Rage 4 by Guard Crush Games, Lizardcube, and Dotemu, and Young Souls by 1P2P Studios. While the spirit of the brawler lives on in big, 3D action games like God of War, 2D versions of the beat ‘em up are constantly being refined and evolved by smaller, often independent studios.

The beat ‘em up genre got its start in the 1980s arcade scene, defined best by games like Double Dragon, Streets of Rage 2, Golden Axe, and various licensed-games like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Simpsons. They focus primarily on using hand-to-hand combat to mow through a large number of enemies, who get progressively more difficult.During the heydays of arcades, these games were purposely designed to get players to spend more money.

Video games have come a long way since the days of the arcade. Modern innovations have delivered 3D action/brawlers like God of War and Bayonetta. But indie devs are taking these lessons of modern game design and merging it with the classic 2D brawler format.

“First we analyzed several beat ‘em ups (yes, even the obscure ones) and we tried to understand what are the good things, the frustrating things, and is that frustration necessary to make the game work etc;” Dotemu game designer Jordi Asensio explained to IGN.

Asensio says in order to evolve the beat ‘em up genre — while keeping true to its arcade roots — the Streets of Rage 4 developers needed a good foundation. “We really worked on the original feeling of 90’s brawlers. That single punch, it must feel good.” Once the hits were solid, the team added modern game elements, like regenerating health through hitting enemies with special moves without getting hit.

1P2P Studios is taking a slightly different approach. Its own RPG brawler, Young Souls, mixes the modern social elements of Persona with a deep fantasy world. Playing as a pair of siblings, players can visit shops and customize their characters with the latest fashion trends, that then become their armor in an underground fantasy world.

Jerome Fait, co-founder and developer at 1P2P told IGN how Young Souls borrowed a lot of inspiration from other genres, before integrating them into its 2D world.

“We took inspiration from modern 3D brawlers – more flexible and smoother gameplay – and mechanics from other close genres – stamina management, careful use of shield and zoning – and mixed them with the traditional codes of 2D beat ‘em ups.”

These careful refinements and hybridization efforts showcase how even 2D beat ‘em ups that designed to emulate the brawlers of the 90s can also be fresh and modern. New technologies also open up the possibilities for modern 2D games even further.

Cyrille Lagarigue, the main programmer at Guard Crush Games says that thanks to modern hardware, “making a 2D game, we can do basically what we want in terms of graphics, so we are trying to push the envelope.” Lagargigue says that new tech lets Streets of Rage 4 to “have backgrounds that never repeat, so we can tell an always evolving story with level design.”

Lagarigue also highlights the analogue stick as a major advancement over the d-pad controls of old, which, “allows for more fluid and precise movements.”

1P2P is also utilizing modern technology to push their 2D beat ‘em up RPG. “[There are] no more limitations on the number of characters on screen or their size. In our case, we use 3D backgrounds, which allows us to have interesting camera work with original angles, depth of field, etc. We’ve also been able to develop a unique artistic direction and animation style while setting up a complex customization system,” Fait says.

For both the Streets of Rage 4 developers and 1P2P, the beat ‘em up revival is a pleasant coincidence rather than a coordinated industry shift. “We often see this kind of movements in video game with the return of a particular genre,” Fait says. “It probably reflects a certain lack of a generation of fans that matured enough to develop new ones. This time it’s for the 2D beat ‘em ups and we’re happy with that!”

When asked why now’s the right time is to bring back the beat ‘em up, he laughs and says, “We do not know if it’s the right time, but it seems that many of us thought about it at the same time!”

“In recent years, there has been a small revival of the genre, but I think this is because it has been too long a forgotten formula,” Lizardcube creative director Ben Fiquet added. “And beat’em ups are always cool to play.”

Both the team behind Streets of Rage 4 and 1P2P Studios agree that the brawler lives on in 3D action games. But 2D efforts like Streets of Rage 4 and Young Souls, show that there is a space for more classic beat ‘em up experiences that still feel uniquely modern.

Someone Recreated A Bob Ross Painting In Minecraft

Bob Ross was famous for his show which helped teach basically anyone how to paint wonderful landscapes and vistas. But, what if you wanted to create a piece of art, but you didn’t have any paint or brushes? Well, one YouTuber decided to recreate a Bob Ross painting using Minecraft.

SmallishBeans is a popular Minecraft YouTuber and self-described terrible artist and painter. However, he still wanted to create some art and so he decided to create a Bob Ross painting using a medium he is more comfortable with: Minecraft.

After building a large frame, SmallishBeans logged in to a second account and placed that character facing the painting from a distance away, letting him see how his “painting” is coming together in real time.

To help create the landscape, SmallishBeans used some mods that allowed him to more quickly place large chunks of blocks. But most of the creation is made by placing blocks by hand, one at a time, to make the scene look more natural.

After spending a few hours working on the scene, the end result is surprisingly faithful to the original painting.

I wonder how Bob Ross would react to seeing people using his art as inspiration to create their own art in entirely new mediums, like video games.

He’d probably think it was nice. Real nice.

Minecraft Is About To Look Much Better On PC

It turns out that Minecraft is getting a visual update after all, just not the one that was originally promised. Overnight, graphics card makers Nvidia announced a new update for the game that will add Minecraft to the growing list of PC games that support real-time ray tracing.

“Ray tracing is one of the key innovations that we think is next for Minecraft,” said Saxs Persson, the game’s creative director, in a video announcing Nvidia’s update. “In normal Minecraft a block of gold just appears yellow but with ray tracing turned on you really get to see the specular highlight, you get to see the reflection, you can even see a mob reflected in it.”

In a brief trailer, you can see how much more vibrant and organic Minecraft’s world feels. Lava glows against nearby blocks, streams of water shimmer and show reflections of what’s nearby, and sunlight filters through a series of vines to create a soft, warm glow on the ground. Of course, players will need Nvidia RTX graphics card if they want to see any of this in their own version of the game.

While Nvidia has also announced that ray tracing support is coming to a bunch of upcoming games including Control and Watch Dogs: LegionMinecraft is interesting because the game was originally due for a much broader graphical update called the Super Duper Graphics Pack. Announced at E3 2017, the pack was supposed to add much more detailed and realistic lighting effects to the game, as well as other enhancements, including support for 4K.

It was also supposed to be coming to more than just PC, but earlier this month Mojang announced that the Super Duper Graphics Pack had been canceled as it “proved too technically demanding to implement as planned.” The ray tracing update is due out soon.

Minecraft Is Now A Browser Game, Is Still Good

Now you can play some old-school Minecraft in your browser.

Minecraft, a game developed by a disembodied spirit and dropped here on Earth under mysterious circumstances, was once the game people asked me about when I told them what my job is. “Oh you play games?” they’d ask. “Do you know about Minecraft?” Now that That Game is Fortnite, it can be hard to remember how all-encompassing and influential Minecraft was. Playing Minecraft Classic, which is now available to play in your browser, helped me remember where that magic once came from.

Minecraft Classic only offers eight blocks to build with, and is in Creative mode by default, because that is the only option. You’re not going to be fighting Creepers or Zombies in this game. Instead, you can build and mine. Those two mechanics aren’t all that different in Classic than what they are now. Still, seeing the game stripped of all the biomes, mobs, and complicated recipes reminded me how compelling those two core mechanics are. Every time I dug downward into some rock and found a neat cave or a new type of block, it was still exciting, even if there wasn’t much to do with it. The novelty of each world being created just for you, hiding secrets within, was enough.

The Latest Minecraft Trend Has Fans Building Creepy, Giant Skeletons

Over on the Minecraft subreddit, a new trend has popped up in the last week or so where players use in-game blocks to build giant skeletons. Some are designed to look like humans or giants, others are built to look like large, dead versions of Minecraft animals or enemies.

As usual with these trends, it is hard to pinpoint the exact start, but about a week ago the Minecraft subreddit community started posting screenshots of creepy giant skeletons. These became popular, with some of the bigger and better creations earning thousands of upvotes and hundreds of comments.

After a few posts blew up, others began jumping on board the trend and uploading their own images of giant, dead things.

There is something slightly creepy about these large skeletons of long-dead giants. Imagine building something like this in a world, then inviting your friend to come play with you and not telling them. They would be probably be shocked to suddenly find a dead giant leaning on a hill.

Now, something a lot of folks don’t know is that there are actually giant skeletons in Minecraft already. These large fossils have a very, very, small chance of spawning in Minecraft worlds, but they do exist. I only recently found out about them and checking out Reddit posts about these rare fossils, it seems many other players are unaware they exist in the game. In fact, they’ve been around for a few years now.

But if you can’t find one of these rare giant fossils in Minecraft, just make your own as all these other players have done.

Halloween isn’t that far away. Building a giant skeleton monster might be a perfect way to get into the spooky season spirt.


Celeste, One of the best platformers of this generation, will be getting its Chapter 9: Farewell free DLC in just a few days.

blog post on developer Extremely OK Games' website explains Celeste will be sent off with this free chapter that will be available to download for everyone who owns the game. This Chapter 9: Farewell DLC will be available on all platforms on September 9, though the Xbox One version may see a slight delay.

Chapter 9: Farewell will add over 100 new levels to the game, bringing Celeste to over 800 levels in total. These levels also come with new music and mechanics and can be unlocked by completing Chapter 8.

The release of this final DLC also means that the limited physical release of Celeste will soon be put into production for those who were holding out.

For everyone who has supported Celeste, the blog post also mentions a change in the development team. Thanks to the commercial success of Celeste, the team now has an official office in Vancouver and was able to bring the team over to all work together in person. Matt Makes Games will now be known as the previously mentioned Extremely OK Games, or EXOK, to commemorate the expansion.

If you haven't heard of Celeste, it's one of the few games to receive the coveted 10 out of 10 for our review here on IGN. We strongly recommend you give it a look.

Hope Corrigan is an Australian freelance writer for IGN. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.


Mojang has unveiled an official DuckTales-themed DLC for Minecraft, which includes skins and new quests.

Available in the Minecraft Marketplace Store, the mash-up pack is the latest Disney property to enter the Minecraft universe after Pirates of the Caribbean and Toy Story previously got the block treatment.

According to the official announcement on Minecraft's website, the DLC includes “the show’s most iconic locations – from the city of Duckburg and the halls of McDuck Manor, to legendary locations like the Pyramid of Toth-Ra or heights of Mount Neverrest. Solve a mystery or rewrite history as Huey, Dewey, Louie, Webby, or any of the other 30 characters available.”

There are also two new storylines, multiple quests, and 50 new collectibles that can be displayed in the McDuck trophy room once found.

The 1987 DuckTales cartoon was rebooted in 2017 for modern audiences, but still follows the adventures of Scrooge McDuck and his nephews, including Donald Duck. The new Minecraft DLC's launch coincides with the release of the third season.

You can check out screenshots from DuckTales Adventure Map in the slideshow above, or the NVIDIA RTX-ray tracing improvements from the Minecraft high fidelity texture pack coming to Windows 10.

Ray tracing: Everything you need to know about ray tracing

Ray tracing is one of the hottest topics of 2019. Not only will Nvidia’s new RTX graphics cards support the technology, but so will the upcoming PS5 and Xbox 2.

But what exactly is ray tracing? We explain the groundbreaking light-rendering technology here, while also explaining how it will improve the visuals for future games to come.

And if you want to start gawping at ray tracing games right now, we detail the hardware you need to get it up and running as well was which games support it. Read on for everything you need to know about ray tracing.

What is ray tracing?

Ray tracing is a rendering technique that creates more realistic light effects. By using ray tracing tech to simulate the physical behaviour of light, you’ll see it bounce off objects in the virtual world just as it would in reality.

While ray tracing has been around for some time in the film and TV production worlds, the release of Nvidia’s RTX graphics cards marked the first instance when ray tracing could be rendered in real-time,  making it possible to incorporate into video games.

Nvidia Ray Tracing Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Nvidia’s screenshot of Shadow of the Tomb Raider demonstrating ray tracing

It isn’t only light that benefits from ray tracing; this more realistic behaviour of light also creates more authentic reflections and shadows.

Look down at a puddle, and ray tracing should allow you to see your character’s face staring right back at you. While reflections are nothing new in video games, developers previously had to pre-render them. Clever tricks, such as rendering an identical room on the other side of a mirror, created the illusion of a reflection, but real-time ray tracing makes the real deal possible. 

Shadows, meanwhile, will look more dynamic. Think of a rising sun over a forest. With ray tracing, shadows are directly affected by the light source and will move accordingly with the sun’s position in the sky. The Shadow of the Tomb Raider tech demo also depicted how flickering firecrackers and candles will create more realistic and atmospheric lighting in dark environments.

Ray tracing games

The full list of games confirmed to support ray tracing is as follows:

However, most of these games are still awaiting software patches before they can feature ray tracing. So far, Battlefield 5, Shadow of the Tomb Radier and Metro Exodus are among the few video game to have the technology activated right now.

Even more games are expected to confirm support for ray tracing throughout 2019. And now the PS5 and Xbox 2 are confirmed to be supporting ray tracing, it’s likely that developers will be much more keen to start using it.

We’ll revise this list as soon as more information becomes available.

Is ray tracing worth it?

Nvidia’s ray tracing tech demos may look impressive, but how good is the technology in action? We tested real-time ray tracing for ourselves with Battlefield 5 – the very first game to actively support the technology.

In the snow-blanketed landscapes of Battlefield 5’s single player experience Nordlys, ray tracing truly excelled. Mountain ranges could be seen in the reflection of a frozen lake, while flames glinted off the metallic surface of machine guns, even as snow thundered down.

On left: DXR turned off. On right: DXR turned on

Explore one of the many deserted homes in Battlefield 5, and the ray tracing improvements are even more noticeable. Glass cabinets show a clear reflection of the entire room, as well as your own character. If a sneaky solider were to sneak up behind you while you ogled the cabinet, you’d be able to spot them immediately. Turn off DirectX Raytracing (DXR) and the glass cabinet will still show a reflection, but a very blurred and murky one that has been pre-designed and can’t be affected by its surroundings, no matter how hard you attempt to intercept the light.

Even the glass-fronted picture frames hanging up on the walls benefit significantly from ray tracing. Once activated, you’re able to see the sunlight glistening on the surface, giving it a glossy appearance rather than the dull image you’d usually find.

On left: DXR turned off. On right: DXR turned on

But while this level of detail is incredibly impressive, it’s so subtle you probably wouldn’t notice it unless you went looking for it, especially in fast-paced bombastic ventures such as Battlefield 5 where you’re too busy gunning down Nazis to bother gazing at a reflection in a cabinet.

When you factor in how much of a performance drain that ray tracing is on the GPU, you have to ask yourself whether that subtle improvement is worth it. Playing through the Nordlys level on Battlefield V in Full HD with DXR turned off, the game held an approximate frame rate average of 130fps. After activating DXR, though, that frame rate average dropped to 80fps. That’s a whopping 50fps difference.

Since we were using the Alienware Aurora R8 gaming desktop with a Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti and Intel Core i9 9900K configuration, Battlefield V still ran smoothly despite the 50fps hit. If you’re using a less modest graphics card though, (such as the RTX 2070 or GTX 2080,) or you fancy playing in 4K rather than Full HD, then frame rates might drop to such a degree that you may decide to sacrifice DXR altogether.

What do I need for ray tracing?

Right now, there’s actually a great deal of graphics cards that technically support ray tracing. Nvidia recently released a patch enabling support on all GTX graphics cards. That said, you currently won’t get the full benefit of the technology unless one of Nvidia’s RTX cards.

The consumer cards currently in the RTX lineup include the RTX 2080 TiRTX 2080RTX 2070 and RTX 2060 GPUs.

These graphics cards boast new hardware called Tensor Cores and RT Cores, which are required to make real-time ray tracing work as efficiently as possible. Nvidia also invented the term ‘Giga Rays’, as a measurement of performance for ray tracing.

Nvidia says that 5 Giga Rays per second is the minimum amount of virtual light ideally required to fully illuminate a typical room in a video game environment. The RTX 2070 offers the standard 5 Giga Rays/sec, while the 2080 offers 8 Giga Rays/sec and the 2080 Ti a whopping 10 Giga Rays/sec.

In other words, lighting effects on games played on a system with a 2080 Ti running will look the most impressive, realistic and immersive. 

It looks like AMD will soon be joining the ray tracing party too, with the next-gen AMD Navi 7nm architecture strongly rumoured to be supporting the technology. The PlayStation 5 will also feature ray tracing, using the AMD Navi GPU architecture, but the next-gen console isn’t expected until 2020.

Minecraft RTX is the first game worth the ray tracing upgrade

Nvidia took a big gamble on ray tracing when it launched its RTX series graphics cards last year. 

There’s no doubt ray tracing improves visuals for games, with lighting effects behaving more naturally and shadows offering more detail than before, but whether that enhancement is significant enough to merit the extra cost of Nvidia’s RTX graphics cards has long been debatable. 

The improvements ray tracing provides varies from game to game, arguably being so subtle in the likes of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Shadow of the Tomb Raiderthat you may not notice the upgrade without being made aware of it beforehand. 

Upcoming games such as Cyberpunk 2077 and Watch Dogs Legion look to take advantage of the light-rendering technology to greater effect. With sidewalks and puddles reflecting the many luminous signs, futuristic cities in both games become more vibrant and immersive.

To call these enhancements “game changing” would be a hefty exaggeration though. In fact, I’m not even sure they’re enough to convince me Nvidia’s ‘ray tracing-capable’ RTX graphics cards are a better buy than AMD’s cheaper Radeon RX 5700 and Radeon RX 5700 XT alternatives. 

Cyberpunk 2077 ray tracing

It’s a different story if you’re a Minecraft fan though.

The blocky sandbox builder has never been known for high fidelity visuals. Quite the opposite, its basic textures were a big part of its charm. With the ray tracing makeover though, Minecraft suddenly looks gorgeous while still retaining its simple building blocks style.

With Minecraft all about creating huge aesthetically pleasing structures, the ray tracing update doesn’t merely feel like a novelty boost, but rather a fully-fledged sequel. 

There are countless improvements seen in Minecraft RTX. Certain materials like gold now feature a glossy and reflective texture, lava will now illuminate surrounding blocks with an orange tint and water becomes transparent, so you can see fish swimming below the surface. 

Of course, Minecraft dabblers likely won’t fancy spending big on an RTX card to see these ray tracing improvements, but serious players who spend multiple hours a week building masterpieces will likely see this as a solid long-term investment. 

Sadly, I can’t comment on specifics for performance, and to what extent the ray tracing technology is a performance drain on the GPU, but I can confirm I didn’t come across any technical issues during my Minecraft RTX demo. 

Minecraft RTX is easily the best looking ray tracing game yet. As someone who hadn’t played Minecraft in three years beforehand, the RTX hands-on demo at Gamescom 2019made me want to jump right back into the sandbox and get creative again. 

Minecraft Earth Beta Launches for Android in 5 Cities

Mojang finally launches the Minecraft Earth beta for Android users who gain access to the Rubies in-game currency first.

Back in May, Microsoft announced that Minecraft was making the transition to the real world thanks to augmented reality. Now some lucky Android users are experiencing Minecraft Earth for the first time.

As The Verge reports, developer Mojang launched the closed beta of Minecraft Earth today on Android. However, it is extremely limited as the tweet below reveals. This is a closed beta, meaning you'll only be eligible to take part if you received an invite. Even then, initially the beta is limited to just five cities: London, Mexico City, Seattle, Stockholm, and Tokyo.

The Android beta is finally here! We’re hard at work rolling out the update in five cities: Seattle, London, Tokyo, Stockholm, and Mexico City. Happy crafting everyone!


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iOS users have had access to the beta since July 16 when it launched first in London and Seattle before expanding to the same five cities as Android. What the iOS version doesn't have yet, though, is Rubies.

Android players gain access to the Rubies in-game currency first, which they can purchase during the closed beta. iOS players will get Rubies “very soon.” Rubies can be bought or earned, but they won't be lost once the beta ends. Mojang is ensuring they are linked to an Xbox Live account so they carry over once the final Minecraft Earth apps launch.

Mojang needs beta testers to keep on playing so in order to keep an account active you'll need to sign in every seven days. If you'd like to try the closed beta, simply sign up and cross your fingers.

‘Minecraft Earth' beta is available on Android — in five cities

Right on time, the beta test for Microsoft's augmented reality Minecraft game is ready for Android users to give it a try. Just like the beta iOS users have had access to, Minecraft Earth is still invite-only for registered testersand available in just five cities: Mexico City, London, Tokyo, Seattle and Stockholm. According to those who are already in, if you're having trouble with the invite email then try clicking the link included from your mobile device instead of on a PC.

The Minecraft Earth beta recently reset its AR playing field and updated to version 2.0.0 on iOS. Crafters Earth reports that has brought familiar mobs like creepers and spiders to the game plus a number of challenges and adventures. Also, the in-game store is enabled so people can use the “Rubies” currency to buy build plates and accompanying items. A blog postnotes that Android users can buy them in the game's store right now, with access on iOS coming soon. Any rubies earned or purchased will stick with a player's account through this beta test and once the game is fully available.

You'll also need a device running Android 7.0 or higher to participate, and you can find out more information from the game's FAQ right here.

Minecraft Earth@minecraftearth

The Android beta is finally here! We’re hard at work rolling out the update in five cities: Seattle, London, Tokyo, Stockholm, and Mexico City. Happy crafting everyone!


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