Minecraft is an open world game that has no specific goals for the player to accomplish, allowing players a large amount of freedom in choosing how to play the game. However, there is an optional achievement system. The gameplay by default is first person, but players have the option to play in third person mode. The core gameplay revolves around breaking and placing blocks. The game world is essentially composed of rough 3D objects—mainly cubes—that are arranged in a fixed grid pattern and represent different materials, such as dirt, stone, various ores, water, and tree trunks. While players can move freely across the world, objects and items can only be placed at fixed locations relative to the grid. Players can gather these material blocks and place them elsewhere, thus allowing for various constructions. The game primarily consists of two game modes: survival and creative. Unlike in survival mode, in creative mode, players have access to unlimited blocks, regenerate health when damaged, and can fly freely around the world. The game also has a changeable difficulty system of four levels; the easiest difficulty (peaceful) removes any hostile creatures that spawn.
At the start of the game, the player is placed on the surface of a procedurally generated and virtually infinite game world. Players can walk across the terrain consisting of plains, mountains, forests, caves, and various water bodies. The world is divided into biomes ranging from deserts to jungles to snowfields. The in-game time system follows a day and night cycle, with one full cycle lasting 20 real time minutes. Throughout the course of the game, players encounter various non-player characters known as mobs, including animals, villagers and hostile creatures. During the daytime, non-hostile animals, such as cows, pigs, and chickens, spawn. They may be hunted for food and crafting materials. During nighttime and in dark areas, hostile mobs, such as large spiders, skeletons, and zombies spawn. Some Minecraft-unique creatures have been noted by reviewers, such as the Creeper, a exploding creature that sneaks up on the player, and the Enderman, a creature with the ability to teleport and pick up blocks.
The game world is procedurally generated as players explore it, using a seed which is obtained from the system clock at the time of world creation unless manually specified by the player. Although limits exist on vertical movement both up and down, Minecraft allows for an infinitely large game world to be generated on the horizontal plane, only running into technical problems when extremely distant locations are reached. The game achieves this by splitting the game world data into smaller sections called “chunks”, which are only created or loaded into memory when players are nearby.
Complex systems can be built using the in-game physics engine with the use of primitive mechanical devices, electrical circuits, and logic gates built with an in-game material known as redstone. For example, a door can be opened or closed by pressing a connected button or stepping on a pressure plate. Similarly, larger and more complex systems can be produced, such as a working arithmetic logic unit–as used in CPUs.
Minecraft features two alternate dimensions – the Nether and The End. The Nether is a hell-like dimension accessed via player-built portals that contain many unique resources and can be used to travel great distances in the overworld. The End is a barren land in which a boss dragon called Enderdragon dwells. Killing the dragon cues the game’s ending credits, written by Irish author Julian Gough. Players are then allowed to teleport back to their original spawn point in the overworld, and will receive “The End” achievement.
Multiplayer gaming in Minecraft is available in player-hosted servers. This allows for players to play in a common world, and achieve goals together. Single player worlds allow LAN connection, so players on the same network can join locally without a server setup. On multiplayer servers, PvP (player vs. player) may be enabled to allow fighting between players.
In this mode, players have to gather natural resources found in the environment in order to craft certain blocks and items. Depending on the difficulty, monsters spawn at night and other dark places, necessitating that the player builds a shelter. The mode also features a health bar which is depleted by attacks from monsters, falls, drowning, falling into lava, suffocation, starvation, and other events. Players also have a hunger bar, which must be periodically refilled by eating various food (pork chops, bread, etc.) in-game. Health replenishes when players have a full hunger bar, and also regenerates regardless of fullness if players play on the easiest difficulty.
There are a wide variety of items that players can craft in Minecraft. Players can craft armor, which can help mitigate damage from attacks, while weapons such as swords can be crafted to kill enemies and other animals. Players may acquire different resources to craft tools, such as weapons, armor, food, and various other items. By acquiring better resources, players can craft more effective items. For example, tools such as axes, shovels, or pickaxes, can be used to chop down trees, dig soil, and mine ores, respectively; and tools made out of better resources (such as iron in place of stone) perform their tasks more quickly and can be used more heavily before breaking. Players may also trade goods with villager mobs through a bartering system. Emerald ores are often the currency of the villagers, although some trade with wheat or other materials.
The game has an inventory system and players are limited to the number of items they can carry, specifically, 36 spaces. Upon dying, items in the players’ inventories are dropped, and players respawn at the current spawn point, which is set by default where players begin the game, but can be reset if players sleep in beds in-game. Dropped items can be recovered if players can reach them before they despawn. Players may acquire experience points by killing mobs and other players, mining, smelting ores, and cooking food. Experience can then be spent on enchanting tools, armor and weapons. Enchanted items are generally more powerful, last longer, or have other special effects.
Players may also play in hardcore mode, a variant of survival mode that differs primarily in the game being locked to the hardest gameplay setting as well as featuring permadeath; upon players’ death, their world is deleted.
In creative mode, players have access to unlimited resources or items through the inventory menu, and can place or remove them instantly. Players do not take environmental or mob damage, and are not affected by hunger. They can fly freely around the game world and only die by breaking through bedrock and falling into the void.
In adventure mode, the gameplay is similar to survival mode except players are unable to break blocks without appropriate tools. The players may still interact with items (such as chests) and mechanics (such as buttons, levers, and repeaters). This mode was developed for playing player-made custom maps, which often involve rules that prohibit breaking blocks. Another addition designed for custom maps is the command block, a block that allows mapmakers to expand interactions with players through server commands