New ‘Lion King' Remake Is More Creative Dead End Than Circle Of Life

The best scene in Disney's incredibly photo-realistic remake of The Lion King features a computer-generated beetle rolling a ball of computer-generated dung across a computer-generated African landscape. It might sound mundane, but this particular ball of dung is carrying a tuft of fur from the runaway lion Simba, and its eventual discovery will renew hope that the rightful king of the savanna is alive and well. It's a funny, touching reminder that in the circle of life, every little creature and every lump of waste has an important role to play.

The best thing about this scene is that it's completely wordless, and it convinced me that this Lion King would have been far better as a silent movie, one that treated its newfangled visual style as more than just a digital face-lift. But that wouldn't have suited Disney's game plan: to produce an essentially risk-free remake of the 1994 animated film that remains one of its all-time greatest hits.

The Hamlet-inspired plot is nearly identical to the original. So are Elton John's memorable songs and Tim Rice's less memorable lyrics, this time sung by a solid voice cast that includes Donald GloverJohn Oliver and Beyoncé. (The soundtrack also includes a new Beyoncé song called “Spirit.”) The crucial difference is that, instead of the original's gorgeous hand-drawn visuals, the new movie looks and feels like live-action, an illusion achieved through a sophisticated mix of digital imagery and virtual-reality techniques.

The result plays like a Hollywood blockbuster disguised as a National Geographic documentary, or perhaps the world's most expensive safari-themed karaoke video. The movie feels both overwhelmed by its technical virtuosity and shackled by its fidelity to the source material. It begins with a nearly shot-for-shot re-creation of the first film's famous opening sequence: The sun rises over the landscape; the lush, soaring melody of “Circle of Life” rings out; and some very persuasive-looking elephants, zebras, giraffes and other critters gather to celebrate the birth of Simba, an adorable little cub destined to succeed his father, Mufasa, as king of the Pride Lands.

As shot by the cinematographer Caleb Deschanel, it's a majestic, if redundant, sequence, a sign that we've seen this all before. Then the familiar plot kicks in, the characters start talking and singing, and your sense of wonderment may turn to confusion. The animals' lips may match their dialogue, but there's next to nothing going on behind the eyes: Who knew photo-realistic lions were this bad at emoting? You can't fault the actors: James Earl Jones, who voiced Mufasa in the earlier film, reprises that role here with his signature gravity. And Chiwetel Ejiofor strikes the right note of menace as Mufasa's brother Scar, who plots to kill both father and son by luring the unsuspecting Simba down into a gorge, placing him directly in the path of a wildebeest stampede.

Within minutes, Mufasa is dead and a heartbroken Simba is on the run, leaving Scar and his vicious hyena allies to take over the savanna. At this point, the movie shifts abruptly into zany comedy mode, as Simba befriends the amiably loud-mouthed duo of Timon the meerkat and Pumbaa the warthog. They're voiced by Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen, and their energetic banter and their performance of that classic slacker anthem “Hakuna Matata” — it means “no worries” — give the story an undeniable lift.

Laughing at this movie is a lot easier than taking it seriously. Soon the grown-up Simba, now voiced by Donald Glover, is reunited with his childhood friend Nala, played by Beyoncé. But when they launch into “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” not even the actors' lovely voices can bring these lions' dead-eyed come-hither expressions to life.

I've never been the biggest fan of the original Lion King, which beneath its brightly entertaining surface has always struck me as too emotionally calculated by half. But that film feels like a triumph of form and content next to this movie, because its story about a fictional animal kingdom feels so vividly and gloriously cartoonish in every detail. The new Lion King is so realistic-looking that, paradoxically, you can't believe a moment of it. And although it was directed by Jon Favreau, who previously shepherded a wild menagerie in his recent remake of The Jungle Book, it has none of the imagination that made that movie more than just a high-tech retread.

Disney is in the midst of an ongoing campaign to update its beloved animated classics for a new generation, from the recent Dumbo and Aladdin to upcoming versions of Mulan and The Little Mermaid. Some of these remakes have been more inspired than others, but few have felt quite as futile as The Lion King. This isn't the circle of life; it's more like a creative dead end.

Minecraft ‘Bedrock' 1.12.0 patch notes: Permission settings for Realm owners, bug fixes, and more

What you need to know

  • Minecraft is an incredibly popular building game.
  • It keeps on getting new features to allow for easier building.
  • Today, the game new features for Realm owners and content creators.
  • Minecraft is part of Xbox Game Pass which you can get through Best Buy.

Minecraft has been getting few features for many years now, and that's one of the main reasons why it's played by over 90 million players each month. Today, Minecraft got a massive patch which addresses permission settings for Realm owners, brings numerous bug fixes, and changes the way creators can access certain commands. You can take a look at the patch notes below. They have been edited for clarity.

Changes

  • Increased the frequency and volume of the ambient mob sounds made during raids, to make them easier to locate.
  • Added new Wandering Trader sounds.
  • Updated the main menu splash text.
  • Updated the default main menu panorama from Aquatic to Village & Pillage.
  • The Store button on the main menu has been renamed to Marketplace.
  • Realm owners can now set relevant permissions for players invited to their Realm.
  • Default settings can be set for all new members entering a Realm
  • The owner can set permissions for an invited player to either visitor, member, or operator.
  • When resetting a world, or uploading a new world, already set permissions stay in place.

Fixes

  • Fixed several crashes that could occur during gameplay.
  • Fixed a crash that could occur when launching the game on some Windows 10 devices.
  • Fixed a crash that could occur when certain interactive blocks are loading in when joining a Realm.
  • Fixed a crash that could occur when switching players on Xbox One.
  • Fixed a crash that could occur when engaging in a fight with an Elder Guardian in an Ocean Monument.
  • Fixed a crash that could occur when loading the game.
  • Fixed a crash that could occur when throwing an Egg or Snowball.
  • Fixed a crash that could occur when trading with a Villager.
  • Fixed a crash that could occur when throwing a trident with Loyalty enchantment
  • Fixed a crash that could occur on Nintendo Switch when the game was saving or loading.
  • Fixed a crash on Nintendo Switch that could occur when suspending and resuming the game.
  • Fixed a crash that could occur when exiting the game.
  • Fixed a crash that could occur when signing into Xbox Live.
  • Fixed a crash that could occur when choosing a skin on launch of the game.
  • Fixed a Marketplace issue that could result in the game getting stuck or crashing when loading in items.
  • Fixed a crash that could occur when the game was checking for previously downloaded content.
  • Made further performance improvements when opening inventory screens.
  • Made several performance improvements related to various interface screens and interactions.
  • Significantly reduced bandwidth usage by allowing the client to reuse chunks it has already seen.
  • Improved chunk loading performance in multiplayer.
  • Improved performance around new villages and villager job sites.
  • Several other performance improvements, including some related to mob pathfinding.
  • Frosted ice blocks no longer drops performance while they're melting.
  • Endermen teleporting particles no longer cause consistent performance drops, especially during boss fights.
  • Reduced the amount of memory required to load textures.
  • Cached resource packs no longer decrease performance on Nintendo Switch.
  • Removed an unnecessary Xbox Live sign-in notification.
  • Fixed an issue where consuming the last item in a stack to unlock an achievement could cause the achievement not to unlock.
  • The Haggler achievement once again unlocks when requirements are met.
  • The Zombie Doctor achievement now unlocks when curing a zombie villager.
  • Marketplace resource packs are now immediately applied after downloading in the world edit menu.
  • Player permissions now apply correctly when more than one operator tries to adjust them.
  • Made improvements to roaming skins, which should apply correctly after reloading or reinstalling the game and signing in.
  • Custom skins are now applied correctly without needing to restart the game to see them.
  • Skins equipped from the Recent section are once again applied when selected.
  • World settings now sync correctly between different Xbox One devices.
  • Resource packs are now applied correctly after downloading through the world or global settings.
  • Newly purchased Realms are now always visible after finalizing the purchase.
  • Fixed an issue that would show an error message when attempting to renew a Realm subscription on Xbox One.
  • Fixed several related issues with End Gateway portals. These should now teleport the player to the correct safe location when used.
  • Villager trading now properly takes away items from the second slot, when applicable.
  • Only players who fought in a raid now receive the Hero of the Village effect in Realms.
  • The Bad Omen effect is now only received when killing an Illager Captain, not when dealing non-fatal damage with a bow or potion.
  • Players no longer see through the world when clipping into blocks after leaving a boat.
  • You can now interact with blocks while holding a charged crossbow on touch devices.
  • Players no longer clip through walls when transitioning from swimming to standing in water.
  • Players that are being healed can now still be knocked back by TNT.
  • Arrows that are shot into blocks keep their position when reloading the world.
  • Area of Effect clouds no longer try to spawn excessive numbers of particles when time of day is changed.
  • Corrected the position of leads on Wolves.
  • Tamed cats no longer slide around while sitting.
  • Fixed the missing Taiga Zombie Villager skin.
  • Fixed a fighting texture issue on some Villager skins.
  • Dyed leather horse armor color no longer affects other horse armor.
  • Vindicators can now path correctly over carpet during raids.
  • The Wither no longer plays its spawning animation when reloading a world.
  • Mobs will no longer path-find over Brewing Stands.
  • Added a sound to indicate when a villager does not want to trade.
  • Illager Captains now drop banners correctly even if the world is reloaded.
  • Mobs will now spawn on double slabs.
  • Fixed the sitting model for cats that were previously tamed ocelots.
  • Fixed missing zombie villager sounds.
  • Certain zombie villagers now have the correct name in death messages instead of a placeholder name.
  • Mobs no longer get stuck when pathfinding on ladders.
  • Evokers no longer move too fast when moving towards villages in raids.
  • Mobs no longer spawn inside leaves during raids.
  • Villagers that are actively trading with players will no longer run and hide when the raid bell rings.
  • Clerics now correctly pathfind to their job sites.
  • Tamed tuxedo cats now use the proper texture.
  • Stray cats can no longer claim beds in villages for worlds converted from version 1.10.
  • The Ghast spinning model in monster spawners is now the correct size.
  • Fixed wandering trader podzol and coral trades.
  • Fletchers now trade sixteen arrows instead of five.
  • Changed the cost of butcher's cooked rabbit trade.
  • Leatherworker's saddle trade is lowered from ten to six emeralds.
  • Removed the sand trade from the wandering trader and adjusted the cost of a diamond hoe from tool smith villagers.
  • Iron Golems no longer run to the world center after their village is destroyed.
  • Villagers without professions now follow regular schedules and will actually sleep, which they deeply need.
  • Fixed the creeper model in some Marketplace maps.
  • Converting a normal Pillager to a Captain with tag commands now displays the banner correctly.
  • Fixed various scenarios where certain blocks couldn't be placed until the game was restarted.
  • Frosted ice blocks can now be broken.
  • Fixed Sea Grass texture brightness.
  • Bamboo leaves are now lighter.
  • Flowing lava once again turns into cobblestone when hit by water.
  • Red sandstone stairs now have correct textures on all sides.
  • Players no longer lose villager job site locations if they replace a job site block that is tied to an experienced villager.
  • Village job site blocks now have consistent sound volume levels when used by players.
  • Scaffolding can no longer be placed on Conduit blocks.
  • The Bell now swings towards a player when it is hit.
  • Note Block particles now correctly correspond to the notes played.
  • The grindstone now correctly combines and repairs two damaged items.
  • Farmland now has the correct side and bottom textures.
  • Smokers now have the correct bottom texture.
  • Fixed door and trapdoor textures.
  • Cocoa beans now break and drop when pushed by pistons.
  • Slabs and other non-solid blocks once again prevent grass from growing on dirt.
  • Flowing water is no longer left behind after flowing over string.
  • Bells now ring when hit with splash and lingering potions.
  • Composter growth particles now appear in the correct location.
  • Blocks can once again be placed on unlit Redstone Ore.
  • Fixed animated textures for flowing lava and water on several texture packs.
  • Efficiency pickaxes now break packed ice at a faster rate.
  • Dropped items no longer prevent minecarts from being placed on rails.
  • Empty glass bottles now stack correctly when removed from brewing stands.
  • Banner patterns can no longer be lost or duplicated when switching them in a loom with a full inventory.
  • Using Pick Block on sweet berry bushes now gives the player the correct item.
  • Bone meal is now consumed correctly when used on grass.
  • Cactus blocks of different growth stages can be smelted into green dye again.
  • Stripped birch wood is no longer used to craft acacia planks when playing on Realms.
  • Shields no longer appear too bright in item frames.
  • Updated the Illager Banner texture.
  • Barrels now appear in the proper place of the creative inventory.
  • Correct colors of wool are now displayed as a material required to create colored banners in the recipe book.
  • The player's arm is no longer displaced in first person view after eating food.
  • Tinted spawn eggs are now properly scaled in item frames.
  • Fixed a bug on dedicated servers and Realms which could cause the wrong block types to generate in the world.
  • Tweaked the number of job sites that generate in villages.
  • Updated the glass texture for locked maps in the Cartography Table UI.
  • Adjusted the Cartography Table screen to fit Android screens when using Classic Interface.
  • Pressing the Y button on controller on the Cartography output slot now only crafts the correct amount.
  • Added controller tooltips for the Lectern screen.
  • The villager trading screen no longer opens and closes if the player is standing too far away.
  • Items that are split between slots in the villager trading screen still count as a total trade amount.
  • The How to Play button on the Cartography Table now directs to the proper screen.
  • Killing a wandering trader's llama can no longer display their inventory screen.
  • The screen reader prompt no longer appears every time network settings are adjusted on Nintendo Switch.
  • The Always Day toggle now correctly animates and shows the correct setting.
  • Dates appear again next to player earned achievements in the Achievements menu.
  • The Invite to Game button is no longer enabled on Featured Servers.
  • Going back to the Play screen or Settings screen will now properly select the previously selected tab when Text to Speech is enabled.
  • The Wheel Turning button is now only shown once in the Minecraft VR settings.
  • Made improvements to the patch notes to make sure the correct ones show up after an update.
  • The Marketplace search screen now displays the proper pack icons.
  • The New tag will be properly removed from a Marketplace collection once it has been viewed.
  • Fixed Marketplace sale items not showing the discount percentage.
  • Further improvements to performance when using selectors with commands.
  • Removed tile prefix in the /give command.
  • Made item names more consistent by removing tile from the beginning of some of them.
  • Blocks and entities that aren't available in the Creative inventory no longer require the minecraft namespace when used as parameters in commands.
  • After fishing_hook is killed by command, players can now cast the hook again without having to cast twice.
  • Killing a rideable entity no longer respawns its rider when killed in the same tick.
  • The testforblock command now works reliably with items renamed in the language files.
  • The Behavior Pack template once again contains the spawn_rules folder.
  • Removing a timer component and adding a new one should no longer have the new timer inherit the old timer's time value.
  • Custom underwater mobs can now spawn naturally.
  • Custom entities now correctly re-evaluate current target validity.
  • getBlocks now returns a 3D array of block objects.
  • Fixed a scripting issue that could cause the player to float.
  • ScriptAttackComponent and ScriptCollisionBoxComponent now correctly retrieve updated data.
  • Pick Block now works correctly on non-vanilla entities that have been added using add-ons.
  • Functions ran on a game loop now use an origin which has Game Master permissions, not Owner permissions.
  • Added a new constructor parameter to the ServerCommandOrigin so that the Function Manager can create an instance with upgraded permissions.
  • Player Position is now reported for the player feet like other mobs.
  • Collision Box and Attack components report the correct data now.
  • Updated templates for 1.12.0 with new resources, behaviors, documentation, and example packs can be downloaded from aka.ms/MinecraftAddons.
  • Created a screen to view content log errors for Behavior and Resource Packs.
  • The log screen can be opened using Ctrl + H after enabling in Profile Settings.
  • Enabled content logging for creators on Bedrock Dedicated Server to debug pack errors.
  • Mob events can now be toggled using the new /mobevent command.
  • Particle emitters can now trigger slash commands, actor events, and MoLang expressions.
  • Added the ability to play single animations at any time, overriding an entity's current state-based animation.
  • Animations and particles can be spawned without being linked to entities using animation timelines.
  • Sound effects can now be triggered by animation events.
  • Added auto-complete to the Command Input field for command blocks.
  • A delay can be added to the command block using the new field, measured in Redstone ticks.
  • Allows custom crafting recipes for shaped crafting, shapeless crafting, and furnaces using Behavior Packs.
  • Recipe JSON files have been added to the Behavior Pack template.
  • New simple items can be added to the game using Behavior Packs.
  • Currently, only a subset of components has been exposed, with more being added in future updates to allow more complex behaviors.
  • Some items, such as food, are now data-driven and their JSON files have been added to the Behavior Pack template.
  • New “simple” blocks can be added to the game using Behavior Packs.
  • Currently, only a subset of components has been exposed, with more being added in future updates to allow more complex behaviors.
  • New data-driven articles.
  • New data-driven Animations
  • Script engine updates.
  • New block events and two new APIs have been included to query for blocks.
  • Basic inventory events have been exposed to the Script Engine.
  • Allows executing commands with a callback when the command is executed without using events.
  • Data is contained in objects passed to callbacks under the data field.
  • Custom events need to be registered before being triggered.

Be sure to check out these changes if you play Minecraft. The game is currently available through Xbox Game Pass. You can either pay $10 a month for Xbox Game Pass, or pick up Xbox Game Pass Ultimate which bundles Xbox Game Pass for consoles, Xbox Game Pass for PC, and Xbox Live Gold into one package.

Minecraft ‘Bedrock Beta' now lets you easily clone buildings, adds foxes

What you need to know

  • Minecraft is an incredibly popular building game.
  • It keeps on getting new features to allow for easier building.
  • Today, the game's beta got foxes and a “Structure Block” to clone buildings.
  • Minecraft is part of Xbox Game Pass.

Minecraft has been getting few features for many years now, and that's one of the main reasons why it's played by over 90 million players each month. While a lot of gamers prefer to experience “Survival Mode,” many others like the freedom “Creative Mode” offers. Unfortunately, copying massive structures isn't easy and you have to use third-party file editing tools to quickly clone buildings. Luckily, that's about to change.

Today, the developer Mojang, now under the banner of Xbox Game Studios, announced the availability of the “Structure Block” in the Minecraft: Bedrock Beta. According to a post on the game's website, “Structure blocks are a really handy editing tool… they're an incredibly helpful way of copying and pasting builds all over your Minecraft world. To use them in this beta, make sure you toggle the Use Experimental Gameplay option in the settings.”

You can customize how many blocks you want your Structure Block to cover, and depending on those dimensions, everything will be saved. You can then easily copy and paste the building anywhere. You can even clone any number of times. For example, let's say that you want to create a row of houses in a city you're building. Now, you can just make one and then copy and paste the rest! This is incredibly useful and has been a much-requested feature for years now.

Aside from the Structure Block, you should also see a new creature roaming the world. It appears to be a fox and looks absolutely adorable from what we've played so far. Minecraft is part of Xbox Game Pass so you can play it right now.

Research shows Minecraft can make you more creative, but it depends

Researchers at Iowa State University have unlocked the secret to creativity, and that secret is Minecraft. Kind of. The researchers got two groups to play Minecraft, another to play “a NASCAR racing game”, and another to watch TV. Then they all drew aliens and had their creativity judged based on how far their drawings strayed from boring human anatomy.

The group that played Minecraft without further instruction were judged to be the most creative – but the group that played Minecraft while being told to “be as creative as possible” were the least. What’s going on there, then? ‘Not sure’, say the researchers.

Here’s co-researcher and psychology professor Douglas Gentile, telling you about the thing he understands more than me.

The most interesting part has to be how urging people to be creative wound up restraining them. Rather than give one explanation, Gentile suggests a couple:

“Maybe creativity’s like a muscle, and they tried really hard in the game and then it was worn out by the time they got to the alien drawing task. Maybe they didn’t like being told how to play, and so were kind of subtly rejecting our instruction. We don’t really know, and followup studies will have to look at this. But it does look very similar to much of the other game research, that what you practice you can get better at, but in fact how you do it might matter just as much.”

So, no firm conclusions – but a promising avenue for further research. His ‘exhaustion’ theory does remind me of those case studies that suggest willpower functions like a resource, with judges being more likely to reject parole applications the closer they get to lunch. Then again, the idea that being told to be creative winds up restricting your thinking has an appeal of its own.

I’m also interested in exactly how they assessed creativity. That alien drawing task is a smart way of going about measuring a process that seems absurdly hard to assess scientifically, but it has its limits. You could draw a single straight line and presumably score maximum points for creativity, which (delightfully) seems both wrong and very accurate.

Dragon Quest Builders 2 Is Much More Than A Minecraft Clone

Dragon Quest Builders 2 makes me feel like a creative genius. It accomplishes this bold feat through use of brilliant game design. In summary, no, it is not a “Minecraft Clone.” I use plenty of fancy words to elaborate on that in this video.

Somehow I arrived at adulthood without ever learning to enjoy creativity. Every time my life requires me to be creative, I make a face like Judge Dreddand complain throughout the exercise.

Well, 2016's Dragon Quest Builders made creativity fun. By meticulously laying out learning tasks as goals along the winding road of an adorably paced epic adventure set in a deep cut of the Dragon Quest universe, the game lent me the joy of being effortlessly creative.

As I note in my video, an ungodly percentage of comments on Dragon Quest Builders 2‘s trailer accuse the game of being a “Minecraft Clone.” This is like calling Breath of the Wild an “Adventure Clone.”

Dragon Quest Builders 2 is a full-length Dragon Quest game, which just so happens to supplement its cutscenes, exploration, and combat elements with cutely robust city planning mechanics. And, yes, perfectly fleshed-out, endlessly rich Minecraft building.

I see Minecraft as pretty much productivity software for nurturing children’s creativity. I wish we’d had it when I was in elementary school. All we’d had in my house was a bucket of off-brand Legos. We only had one of the flat green pieces, and it was frustratingly small. The biggest structure I could ever build was a port-a-potty.

Dragon Quest Builders 2 is bigger, longer, deeper, and magnitudes more narratively exciting than the first. It has online co-op building. Its controls are spectacularly riddled with gargantuan quality of life improvements. For example: your townspeople can build for you, if you lay out the blueprints and dump the materials in a nearby chest. It’s hilariously satisfying to watch them build.

If you played the first Dragon Quest Builders and loved it, yet the previous paragraph enthralls you, I personally cannot conceive of the possibility of this game disappointing you.

Dragon Quest Builders 2‘s in-game social aspects allow me to view thousands of other players’ creations—and effortlessly travel to and tour their islands, if I want. It fascinates me to see how creative other players can get. I realize I’ll probably never build a shockingly complex cathedral in Dragon Quest Builders 2. Though given that what initially hooked me about playing a “Minecraft Reskin” was its Dragon Quest wallpaper, I find it fittingly satisfying that my village, viewed from the top down, looks perfectly like part of an 8-bit Dragon Questmap.

The Dragon Quest Builders series has taught me that all I really need from a game is Dragon Quest towns. Dragon Quest Builders lets me make my own towns. It’s unlimited Dragon Quest towns. This is enough to convince me that I probably don’t need another video game for at least a couple of weeks.

I go into specific detail about a few of the game’s systems in my video, so if that sort of thing excites you, you could slam your Builder’s Hammer down on the thumbs-up icon on our YouTube channel.

By the way! You could subscribe to our YouTube channel, if you like videos like this.

There’s even a playlist of all my other videos. Wow!

How To Sign Up For The ‘Minecraft Earth' Closed Beta

Here's how the first half hour or so of my experience with Harry Potter: Wizards Unite went. I opened the game, went through some basic tutorial stuff and walked around for the course of four levels or so.

“Well,” I thought to myself. “Maybe Minecraft Earth will make this work.”

Minecraft Earth is Microsoft and Mojang's upcoming walking game, and itwill be the second ultra high-profile game to try and recapture the magic that made Pokemon GO one of the most profitable mobile games in history. Sure, there have been plenty of other titles in the meantime with varying degrees of success from franchises like Ghostbusters, Jurassic Park and The Walking Dead. But there's big and then there's big, and these games are big. Harry Potter was big based on the scope of the franchise and the fact that it was coming from the same developer as Pokemon GOMinecraft Earth is big because, you know, Minecraft.

Minecraft Earth

Minecraft Earth CREDIT: MICROSOFT

We recently got to see some gameplay from this thing, and it looks cool. It looks similar to those other games on some level, but it also looks like it's on a much better track to translate this property than what Wizards Unite did with what it had to work with: it helps that Mojang understands what makes this thing tick down at its bones.

Things kick off with a closed beta coming up “in the next two weeks”, according to a recent announcement. It will start on iOs and move to Android “soon” afterwards. From the website:

  • The closed beta will launch for iOS in the next two weeks, with the Android version following soon thereafter.
  • As with most closed betas, the number of participants will be limited in numbers and locations. This is to make sure our servers are able to keep up with all the exploration, creation and, hopefully, surviving that is going on around the world. To learn about the current availability of the beta, ​follow Minecraft Earth on Twitter​!
  • As is also common with beta versions, your progress will occasionally be reset as we test and develop various features of the game.
  • If you are selected to participate in the closed beta (congratulations!), you will receive an invitation email to the email address you have associated with the Microsoft Account or Xbox Live account you submitted in your registration.
  • If you are selected (congrats again!), you will need to play at least once every 7 days. If you don’t, we’ll give your spot to someone else, as space in the beta is very limited.
  • You have to be 18 years or older to participate.

This modded Minecraft sponge is so powerful it can slurp up an ocean

Sponges in Minecraft are pretty darn absorbent—a single sponge block can suck up a total of 65 blocks of water before it becomes completely filled and needs to be dried out in a furnace.

But is 65 blocks really enough? Minecraft is full of swamps and lakes and inlets and oceans and sometimes all that pesky water gets in the way of what you're trying to do, whether it be a construction project or the investigation of an underwater monument.

A modder named Quanted on Reddit wasn't happy with the absorbency of Minecraft's vanilla sponges, so they created their own modded sponge. And boy can it sop up water. A lot of water. All the water?

When placed in water, the modded sponge spreads in six directions, replacing water blocks with empty air (and leaving a lot of confused squids flopping around). The intention is for the sponge to expire after 150 blocks, but as Quanted demonstrates, the mod code can be tweaked for the sponge to simply keep absorbing water forever. You might need some of that water to put out the flames on your GPU, from the looks of it.

Quanted hasn't released the mod yet, saying “this was just a proof of concept, but since a lot of people appreciate it I will publish this mod. This week I'm very busy, but then I will do my best to finish the mod and share it to the world.” That was a couple weeks ago and I haven't seen another post with the mod arrive yet, but hopefully it will be available soon.

Luckily, there's also a data pack version of a super sponge that seems to work in a similar fashion, made by another clever creator on Reddit called Plagiatus, inspired by Quanted's mod above. You can grab the data pack on github, where you'll also find installation instructions.

‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ crushed its opening day with ticket sales of $39.2 million

Spider-Man: Far From Home, which is now showing in US theaters, did pretty well on its opening day of Tuesday. So well, in fact, that its first-day haul of $39.2 puts this final installment in Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe well on track to reaching the estimated $125 million the movie about your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is expected to take in over the course of its first six days in theaters.

Some estimates are even predicting a $150 million total haul for that initial six-day run, well above the Tom Holland-led Spider-Man: Homecoming, his first standalone film as the titular web-slinger.

In this 23rd Marvel film, we get a look at the post-Avengers: Endgame world in addition to getting to enjoy another Peter Paker-saves-the-world story, this time from script co-writers Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers. Recurring actors like Samuel L. Jackson and Colbie Smulders are back, with the addition of Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio, for the film which has already knocked it out of the park globally. Far From Home debuted in Asia last week and has collected $150 million already from China, Japan, and Hong Kong.

Among the more interesting new details that are revealed in Far From Home? How about a new name for Thanos’ genocidal finger snap from Endgame, for a start.

For a minute there, Marvel was letting it be known post-Infinity War that the moment in which half of humanity was wiped out would be referred to as “The Decimation.” This is a Spider-Man movie we’re talking about, though, and he’s such a happy-go-lucky hero (with these movies also having a bit of a sunnier tone) that maybe it makes sense the new movie is now taking to calling the finger snap moment … drumroll … “The Blip.” Kind of a silly name, but if you put that aside we do get an entertaining and great first look at the world kind of putting the pieces back together in the wake of the events of Endgame. Its box office success will surely be no blip, either, and there are also some pretty big end credits scenes you should stick around for.

Comic-Con Best Of 2019 Film Schedule: Marvel Eyes Return, ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’, ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Fly Into Hall H

Check back here for updates. Movie studios love playing a guessing game when it comes to what they are going to reveal when at San Diego Comic-Con. The bad news is that Sony, Warner Bros. and Universal have decided to sit this year out which means no news or reveals about Venom, the Spider-Verse, Wonder Woman, Birds of Prey and other projects fanboys and fangirls have been craving. On the other hand, Marvel Studios is supposedly returning after taking last year off. Joining the MCU for cinematic fare at this year’s wildly celebrated geeky confab are Paramount and New Line — so far.

As per usual, Marvel has been keeping their lips sealed when it comes to what they are bringing to its speculative presence in Hall H. However, there is plenty of buzz as to what they will present considering Phase 3 of their MCU has come to a close with Spider-Man: Far From Home. With Phase 4 on the horizon, the MCU has projects floating around such as Black Widow, The Eternals, and Shang Chi as well as Doctor Strange 2, Black Panther 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 — but until the news comes from Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige, nothing is 100 percent solidified.  Perhaps their Comic-Con presence will confirm speculations or put them to rest. At the same time, we can expect plenty of surprises that will make the crowd go wild.

Speaking of the MCU, Avengers: Endgame directors Anthony Russo and Joe Russo are set to take the Hall H stage to talk about the massive superhero cinematic team up event and what’s in store at their indie studio AGBO. No word yet on whether an Avengers reunion will happen — but we are keeping out fingers crossed.

New Line is not clowning around this year when it comes to returning to Comic-Con with their ScareDiego event on July 17. This year, they are bringing the wildly creepy and terrifying It: Chapter Two with director Andy Muschietti and members of The Loser’s Club.

Hall H will be filled with revivals and reboots. Paramount will bring us back to the post-apocalyptic world of Skynet with Sarah Connor and her cybernetic frenemy T-800 with a presentation for Terminator: Dark Fate while Top Gun: Maverick is set to enter the danger zone and bring us footage from the revival of the Tom Cruise aviation classic.

Saban Films’ Jay and Silent Bob Reboot will say “snoochie boochies” to Hall H with filmmaker/Comic-Con staple Kevin Smith and his counterpart Jason Mewes. Both will be reprising the titular roles in the cult franchise.

Deadline will be on the ground in San Diego for the confab. Attending Comic-Con will be Editorial Director Anthony D’Alessandro, Hero Nation columnist Geoff Boucher, Senior Editor Dominic Patten and myself. We will all be breaking all the news inside and outside the Convention Center.

Read the film schedule for Comic-Con below.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 17

ScareDiegoIt: Chapter Two
8:30 PM, Horton Grand Theatre
It: Chapter Two director Andy Muschietti and The Loser’s Club cast from the New Line horror sequel will talk about the film and present footage.

THURSDAY, JULY 18

Terminator: Dark Fate
11 AM, Hall H
Paramount Pictures brings a Terminator: Dark Fate panel discussion and footage presentation with talent and filmmakers.

FRIDAY, JULY 19

The Russo BrothersAGBO Studios
11 AM, Hall H
Anthony and Joe Russo will reflect on Avengers: Endgame and tell fans what’s in store at their indie studio AGBO, which finances filmed projects in any medium while keeping creative control within the hands of artists. This discussion will be moderated by Collider’s editor-in-chief Steven Weintraub.

SATURDAY, JULY 20

Guillermo del Toro and André Øvredal: Scary Storytelling Master Class
TBA
Oscar-winning The Shape of Water director Guillermo del Toro is joining the parade of A-listers coming to San Diego Comic-Con. Del Toro, who produced the CBS Films/eOne Entertainment thriller Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark, will tag team with that film’s director André Øvredal for a Master Class on scary storytelling.

TBD
Jay and Silent Bob Reboot
Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes will take the stage at Hall H to talk about the forthcoming revival of the cult classic.

The best Minecraft maps

What are the best Minecraft maps? Minecraft is the inventor’s paradise but, of course, it is also the connoisseur’s nightmare. Thanks to the huge number of user-created Minecraft maps out there it is almost impossible to find the finest creations. Who has time these days to sift through hundreds of Minecraft maps, devour them with their digital senses, and come to a conclusion on which ones are worth your time?

Well, us, actually. We have scoured forums, marathoned YouTube videos, and sampled more Minecraft maps than we can count in order to bring you the definitive list. No, no need to thank us, we just like seeing you smile.

To find the best from the mind-boggling array of Minecraft map goodness we have whittled down the finest user-created environments and placed them into their very own category. Whether you fancy a Minecraft dropper map to plunge through, or a Minecraft city map in which to live out your dream – if blocky – cosmopolitan life, we have everything you need.

Here are the best Minecraft maps by category:

MINECRAFT ADVENTURE MAPS

Minecraft adventure maps are self-contained experiences that are less about building and more about exploring and, very often, fighting. Expect traps, puzzles, and all sorts of secrets. Also, while you can play many of them quite happily by yourself, some are better in multiplayer. Best of all, because the Minecraft community is so industrious, there are thousands of great Minecraft adventure maps out there.

But, before you pack your blocky bag bear in mind that almost all of them will have particular rules or settings that you will need to follow to ensure they work properly.

Minecraft maps - BiomeBox

BIOMEBOX

Are there any problems in the world that cannot be solved with parkour? The creator of BiomeBox do not seem to think so. There are ten visually distinct levels for players to platform their way through, each one based on a different biome – leap from Nether to cake, then hop straight into a twilight dreamscape.

Minecraft maps - Asleep

ASLEEP

Dreams and nightmares have, for centuries, been the fascination of psychologists and people whose job it is to think loads. In recent times, Minecraft map makers have stepped up to tackle the question of what happens when we go to sleep. In the case of Asleep, that makes for a ridiculously fun romp through space, the Nether, and a few burning buildings.

Minecraft maps - Herobrine's Mansion

HEROBRINE’S MANSION

Herobrine’s Mansion is the work of Hypixel, one of the community’s most respected creators. It map is packed with things to find, including custom enemies, half a dozen bosses, special items, and unique potions. Widely regarded as one of the best adventure maps, it is designed to be played with friends, but it can be enjoyed on your tod, too.

Minecraft maps - Adventure Time

ADVENTURE TIME

What time is it…? If you do not know the answer to that question it is a good bet that much of this map’s content will be lost on you. This Adventure Time-inspired map utilises a specially made texture pack to transport players to the fantastical Land of Ooo.

Minecraft maps - The Tourist

THE TOURIST

This Minecraft map does not just feature some of the most impressive builds in all of the game’s various worlds, it also boasts minigames and its own soundtrack. The Tourist is one of the longest adventure maps out there, clocking in at around four hours from start to completion, depending on how long you want to spend just staring.

Minecraft maps - Kingdom of the Sky

KINGDOM OF THE SKY

Kingdom of the Sky adds the rather novel concept of narration, provided by a series of YouTube videos to which the player is given at key points. It is a little bit like listening to the audio logs in System Shock or BioShock, as you can carry on playing while the narration chats away to you. Even if you ignore them you still have an imaginative and expansive high fantasy map to explore.

Minecraft maps - Deep Space Turtle Chase

DEEP SPACE TURTLE CHASE

This sci-fi Minecraft map took its creators three months to build and saw them transform the blocky, pastoral world of Minecraft into something remarkably different. Deep Space Turtle Chase has players searching for wanted criminal Dr. Earl S. Testudine, who is hiding somewhere on a mining station beyond Tarsus 3. Catching him will require all your wits and ingenuity.

This map is pretty much a total conversion for Minecraft, so ensure you back up your original copy before following the installation instructions.

Minecraft maps - Wrath of the Fallen

WRATH OF THE FALLEN

Another work from the excellent Hypixel, this hack-and-slash adventure map is full of beautiful structures, custom weapons, potions, items, boss fights, challenges, secret sections, and easter eggs. Phew, that’s a lot. It is recommended for two players, but you should be able to solo your way through if you grit your teeth.

Minecraft maps - The Escapists 2

THE ESCAPISTS 2

Taking inspiration from one of the best prison simulation games (if that’s even a genre) around, this map features eight massive cells, jobs, and a currency system. Your aim is to hatch the ultimate escape plan, using any resources you can find, and gaining notoriety among your fellow cellmates to earn their assistance. As Minecraft maps go, The Escapists 2 is a classic.

Minecraft maps - Last Jump Hero

LAST JUMP HERO

Do not concern yourself with context, cohesive visual design, or gameplay variation when loading up Last Jump Hero. This parkour map asks only a couple of things of prospective Minecrafters: a willingness to jump and a pre-acceptance of failure.

Minecraft maps - Star Wars

STAR WARS

Do you want a diamond lightsaber? Of course you do. Also by Hypixel, and for use with the Mine Wars texture pack, this epic adventure of stormtroopers and Star Destroyers has you fighting your way through snowy wastelands and deep space. It ticks all the Star Wars boxes, featuring blaster rifles, Jedi knights, AT-ATs, and just about everything else you might want. Imperial walkers look pretty damn good in Minecraft.

Minecraft maps - Fireworks Parkour

FIREWORKS PARKOUR

Boasting the white-and-red aesthetic of freerunning favourite Mirror’s Edge, Fireworks Parkour is a classic Minecraft map with a unique twist: instead of expertly timed jumps, you propel yourself through the map with TNT. We cannot promise it is a practical method of propulsion, though: once you start a sequence of explosions you will not be able to pause and catch your breath. The fireworks that pour out of each blast make for a neat visual touch.

Minecraft maps - Pokemon Johto

POKÉMON JOHTO

Just when you thought you would never get a proper 3D Pokémon adventure on PC, this Minecraft Pokémon map is based on Gold and Silver’s Johto region turns up. Offering a quest-line filled with bosses, NPC shop keeps, and fully-functional Super Potions, Johto achieves an authentic Pokémon feel with its own soundtrack. Those Minecraft blocky visuals that make it feel like a GameBoy game, too.

Combat has to be in there somewhere, and while this map does not take advantage of the Pixelmon mod for its battle system, it does reskin weapons as Pokémon monsters with which to fight.

Minecraft maps - Zombie Apocalypse

ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE

Containing what may be the most horrific re-skin of Minecraft’s zombies ever made, Zombie Apocalypse is an entertaining mix-up of frantic hack-and-slash action and survive-the-night tension. Somewhat indebted to Left 4 Dead, when this Minecraft map lays on the undead, it lays them on thick and fast. Ambushes inflict panic, and panic means bad things. Bring a friend to thin the horde quicker and solve its co-op puzzles.

Minecraft maps - Herobrine's Return

HEROBRINE’S RETURN

Hypixel’s maps are basically triple-A Minecraft: they even have sequels. Herobrine’s Return is the follow up to Herobrine’s Mansion, and as such contains a familiar setup of custom enemies, big boss fights, magic spells, and NPC-crewed shops. The RPG tropes are carried through with a fun selection of side-quests, and there are great scripted moments that add a welcome level of cinematic sparkle.

Minecraft maps - Teramia

TERAMIA

One of the largest Minecraft adventure maps, Teramia is an open-world, non-linear RPG. Without a focused core quest, Teramia leaves you free to wander, explore its various districts, and help the NPCs you encounter along the way. Split into four regions and populated by a vast variety of mobs and friendly villagers, the areas are home to nine dungeons and a series of fortresses to claim as your own.

MINECRAFT SURVIVAL MAPS

Survival is one of Minecraft’s most popular modes, in which your sole task is to remain in the land of the living for as long as possible. The best Minecraft maps push your survival instincts to their limits, forcing you to make the most intelligent choices when mining limited resources, putting impossible voids between you and vital items, and testing your endurance with vicious monsters. Others just ask you to survive long enough to hold a hot tub party. Below you will find some of the best Minecraft survival maps around.

Minecraft maps - World in a Jar

WORLD IN A JAR

In World in a Jar you must survive on a series of tiny worlds encased in jars. Each floating glass prison contains a unique biome, containing a mix of pure survival and adventure map gameplay. There is an ethereal stillness to these captured environments that makes World in a Jar a must-play Minecraft map.

Minecraft maps - Ant Farm Survival

ANT FARM SURVIVAL

Ever wondered what it would be like to find yourself trapped in an ant farm? Ant Farm Survival provides a flawed template for what you would encounter – perhaps conduct more scientific research elsewhere. Divided into increasingly challenging sections, this unique survival map boasts a heap of challenges and some deviously claustrophobic level design.

Minecraft maps - Deadly Orbit

DEADLY ORBIT

Roleplayers that fancy themselves a pixelated Sandra Bullock or George Clooney need look no further than Deadly Orbit, a space-themed survival map set aboard the International Space Station. It takes its Gravity inspiration literally: there is lots of gravity as opposed to none at all. But even though there is no floating in the abyss here, the hollowness of space can certainly be felt.

Minecraft maps - Planet Impossible

PLANET IMPOSSIBLE

One of Planet Impossible’s goals is to ‘tame a dinosaur’, which is all you really need to know, really. However, if you do need any further persuading, Planet Impossible is a Mad Max wasteland and the final destination of your crashed spaceship. Tasked with surviving ten days, you need to explore the world and discover evidence of erstwhile human settlers.

Minecraft maps - Arctic

ARCTIC

Washed up in the Arctic tundra with nothing but your own body to rely on, Arctic demands that you set up digs in the desolate ice fields and gradually build a thriving settlement for you and your survivor pals Jozsef and Mr. Maillet. By cultivating crops and maintaining a farm you can eventually throw the ultimate hot tub party. The premise is as silly as they come, but Arctic is beautiful and calming in its isolation.

Minecraft maps - Containment Survival 2

CONTAINMENT SURVIVAL 2

A clever twist on Portal, Containment Survival 2 has you progress through a selection of containment cells, each containing a unique biome. Ushered through by a mad AI, you are to complete survival challenges on a tight time limit. Using a superb collection of voiceovers, the AI will hassle and demean you as you attempt to escape. A well-designed sequence of environments and challenges cements Containment Survival 2 as one of the best Minecraft maps.

Minecraft maps - Wild West

WILD WEST

It may not be Red Dead Redemption, but Wild West captures the feel of the frontier. The glowy sunset, vast canyons, and the street purposefully set up for epic duelling make this Minecraft map the perfect arena for fulfilling your stetson-wearing fantasies. Taming horses is just as much a part of life on the ranch as it is life in Mojang’s sandblocks. Capturing monsters using cactus-based traps less so, but we are quite happy to give that a go as well.

Minecraft maps - Survival Island

SURVIVAL ISLAND

Survival Island is the classic original, the Coca-Cola of custom built survival maps. Its legacy is built on its high difficulty but, that sweetens its rewards. A house of twigs is a true achievement, and when you are the king of your own castle you know you worked to earn it. Lazy comparison klaxon: Survival Island is Dark Souls meets Minecraft.

Minecraft maps - Skyblock

SKYBLOCK

SkyBlock, like Survival Island above, is one of the ‘original’ custom maps; it lacks frills and vistas, but offers a rock-solid challenge. Just take the scavenging suffering of Survival Island and suspend it thousands of feet in the sky. Your little L-shaped dirt pile is the only resource you have, and, thus, plenty of ingenuity and a mind for conservation is required. With the right smarts, you will be amazed what you can harvest from a tree and several blocks of dirt.

Minecraft maps - Sphere Survival

SPHERE SURVIVAL

An interesting twist on the classic SkyBlock formula, Sphere Survival puts you on gigantic spheres and sends you on your merry way to attempt to bridge to the map’s other spherical worlds while fending off creepers and other nasties: this Minecraft map is a survivalist’s dream come true.

MINECRAFT HORROR MAPS

How scary can animated blocks be? Phenomenally so, apparently. If you are looking to ruin some underwear then you need a chilling Minecraft horror map. Down the lights, affix your headphones, and prepare your nerves for a fright with angles you have never seen before.Black Light

Minecraft maps - Black Light

BLACK LIGHT

Channelling the frights of Outlast, Black Light is a chilling expedition to a Russian psychiatric hospital in the wake of a nuclear explosion. A specialised texture pack makes the place unnervingly filthy, complete with ominous graffiti and colour palette. Like the best Minecraft horror maps, it is the skilled use of lighting makes Black Light creepy.

Minecraft maps - The Asylum

THE ASYLUM

Abandoned asylums are always a great place for spooks and thrills. Apart from performing a solid job of delivering blocky jumpscares and plenty of chills, The Asylum’s borderline immortal mobs engender a sense of powerless terror. This is stripped-back Minecraft horror at its finest.

Minecraft maps - Survival Horror

SURVIVAL HORROR

Ah, the creepy mansion on the hill. How could such a horror trope not be the centre of a Minecraft map? Created by the ever-excellent Hypixel, Survival Horror asks you to survive 25 waves of increasingly tough ghouls and beasts using only the limited resources found lying around the mansion. A failing electric generator escalates the panic to deliver pure fright throughout.

Minecraft maps - Ruins of the Dead

RUINS OF THE DEAD

Ancient underground temple? Check. Wave after wave of flesh-eating zombies? Check. Hidden chests of armour, weapons, and loot? Check.

Ruins of the Dead is an excellent zombie survival map thanks to its progressive loot game and increasing difficulty. There is even a deviously challenging final undead foe for anyone who can get through the 16 waves of increasingly challenging undead.

WANDERING

Rife with jump-scares and haunting from the first few steps, Wandering is an unforgettable Minecraft map. You play as Jack, a 30-year-old man returning home after a tiring day at work… only someone – or something – has followed you [crack of lightning, haunting organ music]…

MINECRAFT CITY MAPS

Minecraft tourism has certainly rescued our wanderlust-riven wallets. Saving us money on transport, hotels, and food, Minecraft city maps allow us to explore bustling urban landscapes, both real and fantastical, without any jabs or travel insurance. From loyal recreations of sunny Sao Paulo to the cities of the future, here are the Minecraft city maps in which you should have a wander and an espresso.

Minecraft maps - Pripyat

PRIPYAT

The ghostly region of Pripyat has been embedded in our minds ever since Call of Duty sent us running around the abandoned city of Chernobyl, avoiding pockets of radiation and sniping hapless ultranationalist soldiers. Now it has been painstakingly recreated in this Minecraft city map in which we can tentatively explore.

Minecraft maps - Future City

FUTURE CITY

War of the Worlds is catapulted into the future as several planets have been attacked by a menacing enemy alliance. Future City is at the heart of these intergalactic troubles. It is a world of staggering scale with piercing skyscrapers and modern tech so, if you always wanted to experience Star Wars’ Coruscant without having to stomach the prequels, Future City should be your next destination.

Minecraft maps - World of Worlds

WORLD OF WORLDS

World of Worlds is a Minecraft city map for the player crippled by the unfortunate combination of wanderlust and a lack of funds. Travel the world through Minecraft’s block prism in this map, which features uncannily recreated buildings from 85 cities across the real world. Unless you are unusually well-travelled, there is certain to be new places for you to check out.

Minecraft maps - Atropos

ATROPOS

Atropos is an astonishing Minecraft city built atop a tortoise. Not just a whimsical ideal, Atropos is also created in the steampunk art style: everything is adorned with brass pipes and clockwork gears. It is so detailed that, for example, the surface of the tortoise itself is a mass of interconnected metal plates and cogs. But that’s just the start.

What’s more, Atropos is huge. On its back is a full-sized city adorned with the same kind of elegant details that coat its exterior. The city descends into the belly of the beast; Atropos is as vast as it is impressive.

Minecraft maps - Imperial City

IMPERIAL CITY

A quite astonishing collection of structures, Imperial City is an original creation that combines prominent architectural styles from the 19th and 20th centuries. Look around and you will find neo-classical, beaux-arts, and modern influences in its design. But while Imperial City’s buildings are its starring performers, it is their layout that provides the enduring backbone of this Minecraft map. Imperial City feels like a city; the spacing of the roads, the order of the buildings, and the river banks all contribute to a city that feels real.

Minecraft maps - Vertoak City

VERTOAK CITY

Vertoak City is what Minecraft city maps are all about: size and freedom. Without the burden of goals to complete or rules to adhere to, exploring this wonderful world is a freeform adventure of boundless possibilities. High streets are dense yet intricate, Copacabana-like beaches stretch for miles, and leafy suburbs are there as a relaxing retreat from the big smoke.

Minecraft maps - Tazader City

TAZADER CITY

Minecraft maps - Sun City

One of the biggest maps in Minecraft keeps getting bigger. Originally a Pocket Edition exclusive,Tazader Cityclass=”gallery”> is continually updated with more skyscrapers, stadiums, and hotels. Aside from the hours you will lose to exploring and basking in detail of this city, you can relax in your plush new hotel room, discover forgotten backstreets, and play sport. All without any scraped knees.

SUN CITY

Cities are great and all, but amazing places like London can be ruined by bleak grey cloud and rainfall that is not torrential, but enough to ruin your day. Sun City, however, is an urban Minecraft map inspired by the sweltering Brazilian cities of Sao Paulo and Goiania. Sun City might not be the largest city map and without any objectives, but at least your blocky avatar will have the free time to get a much-needed tan.

MINECRAFT PUZZLE MAPS

Have you read about how we only ever use 10% of our brains? It is total guff; prove these cowboy scientists wrong in Minecraft by besting these mind-shattering puzzle maps. From Crystal Maze-like headscratchers to PhD-bothering conundrums, you will find some of PC gaming’s best puzzles in Mojang’s masterpiece. These Minecraft maps are the smartest we have found.

Minecraft maps - 30 Ways to Die

30 WAYS TO DIE

Death: it is an essential part of life. But it is also the only means of progression in this morbid Minecraft map. Players will be kitted out with specific tools for each level and will have to figure out how to use them in order to kill themselves. Best of luck, we suppose.

Minecraft maps - the Code

THE CODE

An exceptionally clever and intelligently-designed brain bender, the Codecontains a corridor of fiendish puzzles to crack. Solving them provides you with a code which, when written down on a piece of paper and thrown down a hopper, opens the next door. The puzzles are all exceptionally varied, ranging from mathematical conundrums to tests of speed and strength. Thankfully, there’s an in-game hint system, but we totally didn’t need it.

Minecraft maps - Portalcraft

PORTALCRAFT

Imitation is the highest form of flattery, and if there is any puzzle game out there that deserves some, it is Portal. Portalcraft recreates Aperture Science with uncanny accuracy, replicating not only the look, feel, and mechanics of the Portal games, but its puzzles too. There are a few noticeable Minecraft-isms (lifts and doors aren’t slickly automated), but the fact that portals work and momentum still matters is impressive.

Minecraft maps - The Puzzle Cube

THE PUZZLE CUBE

The Puzzle Cube is a Minecraft map with a great gimmick: you can walk on the sides of the cube. Starting on the exterior of the cube, you need to solve puzzles on all sides in order to progress to the centre chamber.

Instead of you falling off when you walk over the edge of a cube, the gravity will flip and you will continue walking down the next side. The conundrums escalate in difficulty at a fair rate. It is also playable in multiplayer, the best way to play this Minecraft map.

Minecraft maps - Beyond Perception

BEYOND PERCEPTION

The simple concept of this Minecraft map is what sets it apart in the crowded puzzle genre: by turning your shading on or off, you can make certain objects appear and disappear, leading to a brilliant puzzler where you do not know what is really there and what is not.

Minecraft maps - Enigma Island

ENIGMA ISLAND

Enigma Island features its own hints system that gives clues for any puzzles you are particularly stuck on in exchange for diamonds – manage your resources carefully to make it through. Explore the island, get your brain in gear, and discover the many hidden secrets.

MINECRAFT MULTIPLAYER MAPS

It is no fun to go alone, so why not team up with friends, strangers, and enemies to cause a little chaos. There are plenty of great multiplayer servers out there, but what you really need is a bespoke Minecraft map map. They are all homages to other games but they recreate their mechanics expertly.

Minecraft maps - Payday 2 Endgame

PAYDAY 2: ENDGAME

Inspired by Overkill’s superb heist game, Payday 2: Endgame is a not at all copyright breaching Minecraft map with seven heists that are fully playable in co-op. Four will be familiar to Payday players, such as Framing Day One and Two, Big Oil, and Fire Starter – but the rest are original creations. Pacing is key and Endgame captures Payday’s stealth-to-panic curve competently. There are also security systems to sabotage and an effective trading system with which to kit out your mobsters.

Minecraft maps - It's Better Together

IT’S BETTER TOGETHER

This two-player adventure map is filled to bursting point with complex, Portal 2-esque co-op quandaries. Made with vanilla Minecraft players in mind, you and your friend will not have to endure a lengthy troubleshooting install before heading in.

Minecraft maps - Mine 4 Dead

MINE 4 DEAD

Zombies will always be popular but they are even better with a spoonful of Valve. Mine 4 Dead is a classic zombie co-op-’em-up Left 4 Dead game recreated as a Minecraft map. Take in three friends with you (you’ll need them), and prepare to be swamped by shuffling smelly, rotting corpses.

Minecraft maps - Team Fortress 2 in Minecraft

TEAM FORTRESS 2 IN MINECRAFT

In Minecraft’s Dustbowl, Team Fortress 2 is that bit more special. Indeed, this is one of the best examples of command block work you will see, with a fully-functioning control point system to capture the classic multiplayer action. This Minecraft map lifts the core classes, Red versus Blue teams, resupply lockers, and dispensers from TF2, and they work flawlessly. The fact that Dustbowl is a perfect visual replica of the original map is its least interesting feature.

Minecraft maps - FunLand 3

FUNLAND 3

What do you need for a perfect day out with your friends? Hundreds of rollercoasters extending to the very limits of Minecraft’s sky box as far as the eye can see. This Minecraftian ode to the humble theme park is ideal for people who love roller coasters, but hate queues. We might not try it in VR, thanks.

MINECRAFT CASTLE MAPS

From the spooky gothic sensibilities of castle Dracula to the impressive Dragonstone, the fire-spewing beasts cascading around its towering turrets, castles are the coolest buildings around. And, guess what, they are even better as Minecraft maps. Whether it is a fantasy or steampunk lands you seek to rule, become king of any world you like with these great Minecraft castle maps.

Minecraft maps - Oakhold

OAKHOLD

This Minecraft map is one for fans of The Elder Scrolls series. Oakhold will take your breath away, just as the likes of Solitude and the Imperial City did, but make sure you have the Sphax PureBDcraft texture pack installed, first. This fantasy-flavoured castle nestled amidst a sky high forest canopy is vast, with 29 unique apartments, houses, towers, shops, and much more with which to live out your wildest kingly dreams. Keep up to date with creator Dovetail’s website for the latest Oakhold updates.

Minecraft maps - Dragonstone

DRAGONSTONE

Waiting for more Game of Thrones goodness is always unbearable, but at least you can soothe your desperation to be reunited with Daenerys with her home of Dragonstone. It might have been built with blocks rather than forged with fire, but Dragonstone in Minecraft is no less stupendous.

Minecraft maps - Steampunk Castle

STEAMPUNK CASTLE

Castles do not have to be confined to fantasy worlds. Steampunk Castleproves just that: it is a construction that casts a unique shape on the horizon. Swap dragons for blimps and windmills with this map and you also might discover secrets, easter eggs, and a hidden storyline.

Minecraft maps - Dol Guldur

DOL GULDUR

Even castles with heavily bolstered defences and powerful rulers cannot stick around forever – take Dol Guldur, Sauron’s abandoned elven fortress as an example. A list of the best Minecraft castle maps could not possibly be complete without a Lord of the Rings entry, but with this lovingly detailed fantasy facsimile you can explore Tolkien lore without risking the wrath of the infamous necromancer.

Minecraft maps - Castle Verilian of Aeritus

CASTLE VERILIAN OF AERITUS

Castle Verilian of Aeritus proves that the best Minecraft maps are not necessarily the biggest. This diminutive seat of dominion makes up for its relatively cosy size with intricate interior detail and a kickass name. From the imposing main gate you must traverse a long, winding path that takes in massive waterfalls and trees to your humble abode. Kings used to a larger castle should think of this as a castle meets kingly country retreat.

MINECRAFT DROPPER MAPS

Don’t look down! Well, actually, you might want to do just that when it comes to Minecraft dropper maps. Here you have to fall in such a way as to, as gracefully as possible, avoid the blocks in your way. If you navigate to the bottom of a dropper level with all of your character’s blocks in the places where they should be, congratulations, you have survived. Test your vertigo with these fun gravity-themed Minecraft maps.

Minecraft maps - The Dropper 2

THE DROPPER 2

Subtitled ‘Newton vs Darwin’, The Dropper 2 releases you from a vertigo-inducing height and asks you to survive. As you plummet down a complex spider web of blocks and barriers, you need to shift your body in the right direction to prevent splattering against an obstacle (i.e. mining away the block as you hit it is firmly disallowed). Think of those insane space debris sections from Dead Space and you are halfway there.

Minecraft maps - Multi Difficulty Droppers

MULTI DIFFICULTY DROPPERS

Multi Difficulty Droppers is a Minecraft map that demands you git gud. That means before you progress to a different environment you need to beat each on every difficulty setting. Once you land successfully, however, you are congratulated by an explosion of fireworks and the disembodied cheers of children. Yay?

Minecraft maps - Anti Dropp3r

ANTI DROPP3R

What do you get if you take the main mechanic of a dropper map and turn it, well, upside-down? An upper map? A levitator map? Ok, we are not the ideas people here, that honour goes to creators Addit95, Drosselbard, and ScribbleLP, who clearly levitated so much the e key fell off their keyboard.

Anti Dropp3r is the blasphemous dropper map that proves that, gravity turned on or off, the end result is pretty much the same. On the plus side, there are multiple levitation speeds and you can play it in multiplayer.

Minecraft maps - Impossible Dropper 2

IMPOSSIBLE DROPPER 2

Think you are the bees knees at dropping? This Minecraft map is so devilishly difficult that, according to its title, it is impossibleImpossible Dropper 2 features plenty of dastardly trolls and some vanishingly small landing spots; even if you evade all the obstacles it is extremely tough to escape death right at the end. We have not completed it yet because we, er, have not got round to it. Yeah, that’s it.

MINECRAFT PARKOUR MAPS

For many, Minecraft is about making and admiring inspiring, gargantuan structures. When it comes to Minecraft parkour maps, however, the art and majesty is in how these environments are traversed. Whether you are dashing, bouncing, or jumping through canyons or sky piercing mountains, you will almost certainly be going much too fast to stand and enjoy the view. Here are the best Minecraft parkour maps around.

Minecraft maps - Parkour School

PARKOUR SCHOOL

Ever seen some hardcore parkour skillz on YouTube and worried you are just not up to snuff? Not to worry: everyone has to start somewhere, andParkour School is the perfect Minecraft parkour map with which to start. Easing you in with a gentle difficulty curve, Parkour School teaches you the basics with a checkpoint system and themed zones. You will be blasting through the toughest parkour levels in no time.

Minecraft maps - Canyon Jumps

CANYON JUMPS

Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon and thought, ‘that’s great and everything, but wouldn’t it be better if I could jump across it in mid air, without a safety harness’. Of course not, because you are smart.

Canyon Jumps is a Minecraft parkour map that allows you to live out that terrifying and oddly specific dream nobody has ever had. With an emphasis on accuracy over speed, this is a jump ‘n’ run map that suspends your route in thin air amid a canyon setting of impressive scale. 48 challenges and an automatic in-game scoreboard system are in, too.

Minecraft maps - Hologram Parkour

HOLOGRAM PARKOUR

An excellent, ethereal twist sets Hologram Parkour apart from the rest of the Minecraft parkour genre. You are faced with a map of two halves: one side features a route without blocks, while on the other side there are walls, creating a sort of asymmetrical mirror image. Using the other half to judge where to aim your jump, holographic blocks appear in front of you as you discover the correct path, as if by magic. Blending platforming and puzzle elements, Hologram Parkour is not to be missed.

Minecraft maps - Jump Escape

JUMP ESCAPE

Jump Escape is essentially parkour meets Portal (Portalkour?). Well in aesthetic terms, that is. You transition between levels with an elevator that recalls Valve’s classic puzzler, but otherwise this is a strong and simple Minecraft parkour map. You might not be punished for slowness like in Time to Die, but the timer is always there to compel you to shave off every last second and show off to the rest of your blocky gang.

Minecraft maps - Assassin's Creep

ASSASSIN’S CREEP

No prizes for guessing the series on which this map is based. Assassin’s Creep is heavily influenced by the stabby stealth games of Ezio and co. with help from the Assassini Costruttori texture pack. As opposed to tracking down those peskily hidden feathers from the earlier Assassin’s Creed titles, your mission here is to locate nine wool blocks – so turn on peaceful mode to prevent mobs from interfering. Each are at the top of tall historic towers, which is where your parkour skills come in. Hidden blades are optional, but recommended.

Phew, that’s a lot of Minecraft maps. That will certainly keep you busy for a long time, but there’s even more to come from us when it comes to Mojang’s blocky adventure. Firstly, you’ll want to make sure your dazzling your online pals with your faultless fashion taste, so check out our list of the best Minecraft skins for that. And, if you’re still itching for more exciting adventures, make sure to check in with our favourite Minecraft seeds and the finest Minecraft Pocket Edition seeds, if you’re playing Minecraft for Windows 10. Now, if you don’t mind, we’ll be retiring to our most comfortable castle map for a well-deserved rest.