Gaming Editor Louis Wright reviews the newest update to Minecraft finding it to be passable but somewhat light on features
Minecraft finally leaves its surprisingly prosperous teenage phase with its 20th update since full release back in 2011. More commonly known as the ‘Trails & Tales’ update, 1.20 may not be as extravagant as some predecessors in the sheer number of features introduced, but still cements itself as a solid inclusion.
Archaeology & Smithing
The biggest introduction of 1.20 is the ability for players to excavate patches Suspicious Sand and Suspicious Gravel with the Brush tool. While intended for 1.17 archeology has had time to gestate and improve in how it fits into the Minecraft world cohesively.
Archaeology provides a way of finding items and treasures that is unseen in Minecraft and links well to many existing features within the game. For example, being able to find music discs, rare seeds, pottery shards, and other rarities is encouraging for players in both the early and late game to take full advantage of these new systems.
As part of this, the player can also find the new Smithing Templates. Smithing Templates provide a use to the Smithing Table introduced in 1.14 outside of upgrading Diamond tools and armour into Netherite. With the ability to add one of 16 different trim styles to any piece of armour, using one of 10 different materials as a design colour for this trim the customisation available is utterly absurd.
With 7 different types of helmets that can be customised, and 6 different types of chestplate, trousers, and boots, the total number of customisation options (not accounting for the dyed leather armour variants) can be calculated at 990,904,320,000 (nine-hundred and ninety billion, nine-hundred and four million, three hundred and twenty thousand).
Biomes & Structures
The ‘Trails & Tales’ update, as implied by the name, focuses on adding to the Minecraft world, not only in its generation but its lore. This is seen by the new structures that now litter the Minecraft world – Trail Ruins.
Trail Ruins are ancient constructions from a time long ago, buried within the earth. They are the main component of this update, giving way to most of the new features and items that are introduced. Ruins are the main place where the player can access the new archaeology feature for example, as Ruins contain many pieces of Suspicious Sand and Suspicious Gravel that can be brushed away to find treasures.
While somewhat simple in design, the frequency with which Trail Ruins can appear, the items they offer, and their uniqueness from other structures make them a solid addition to the game. They provide a much-needed richness to the overworld for players exploring new lands.
The other main update to the world is the Cherry Grove biome. This biome features the new ‘cherry trees’ and a variety of other related items and blocks. While, on the surface, similar in generation and concept to other forest-based biomes, especially the Flower Forest, the Cherry Grove has several aspects that make it distinct.
Being the only biome where cherry trees grow is a certain boon, but the atmosphere is the biggest drawing point. With the cherry tree being the only one to give off particle effects, and the Pink Petals decorating the ground, the Cherry Grove is much more homely than other biomes.
Blocks & Items
Like with any Minecraft update, ‘Trails & Tales’ has plenty of new blocks and items for players to use. These range from completely new blocks, textures, and palettes to additions to pre-existing items that make them more worthwhile to collect and use.
With the addition of not one, but two, new wood types between the all-new cherry trees and the ability to create bamboo wood there is plenty of depth added to the building palette.
Cherry wood is incredibly unique in the colour that it uses, being a very light pink that no other block represents. This addition to the Minecraft colour wheel means that builders will have a whole new tone to play with and use within their builds. This is especially prominent in the fact that it is a wood type, as wood types have an immense block variety. Stairs, slabs, fences, doors, and more are all viable options with this new colour.
The same can be said about bamboo wood, as its yellowish-green hue can be used to stand out among the other wood types. Not only this, but bamboo is also unique in the fact that it has two varieties of plank types, both the regular texture and the new mosaic texture that only it has access to. This allows for variation when using the bamboo wood that helps break up the repetition of the standard plank texture without requiring a change in palette.
Another standout block is the Decorated Pot. Having the hitbox of a singular block, but a model that extends out of that range allows for the Decorate Pot to be used in many ways that other blocks cannot. This makes it a strong tool for decoration and detailing purposes. It is tied to archaeology as well meaning that players are encouraged to engage with the new feature.
‘Trails & Tales’, as far as recent Minecraft updates go, is perfectly passable. It does not aim to completely restructure entire parts of the game like ‘The Nether Update’ or ‘The Update Aquatic’ did, however, it is not light on additions either. What it introduces, it does well. Although, the update is left feeling somewhat barren if you are not inclined to use the new archaeology features that are introduced.
Minecraft is available on PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox, PlayStation, IOS, and Android
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