If the Xbox 360 version of Minecraft is going to keep building on the success of the PC smash-hit, 4J Studios will have its hands full very soon. When the PC edition of the game received the highly anticipated “Adventure Update,” fans were reinvigorated by the new content. Until this point, the limited world size hasn’t affected the quality of the game. With the next update, however–which seeks to reward those who enjoy exploring–the game may have finally ran into a brick wall.
If 4J Studios can’t find a way to expand the world size on the Xbox 360, update 1.8.2 will fall far short of its potential. Sure the developers can add strongholds, abandoned mineshafts, and villages, but the limited world size will severely restrict the amount of enjoyment that can come from such an adventure. In fact, on the PC, the first strongholds spawn between 640 and 1152 blocks from a player’s starting location; The Xbox version doesn’t even reach that minimum.
During my entire time playing on the PC, I’ve yet to come across a stronghold, despite putting over 100 hours into exploration and building. On the Xbox, mob spawners are dished out like candy, and given the massive size of strongholds, it would probably take no more than a few hours of exploration for a player to find his way to the hidden gems inside.
From there it only gets worse, as the PC’s most recent update, 1.3.1, adds large biomes, the likes of which consume over 8,000 chunks. Chunks. Not blocks. Chunks. These big new environments, combined with rarities such as mushroom biomes, golems, and temples, indicate that we may never get the full experience when it comes to the 360’s adventure. At least not as it stands now.
The gap between versions continues to grow when you delve deeper into the PC’s current advantages. Not only can keyboard-and-mouse players host servers, they can also write in books and share world saves in the new adventure mode, a feature that will be practically useless on the Xbox, unless the world size problem is remedied.
No matter what happens, the Xbox port has already been a massive success, selling over 3 million copies. Perhaps we’ll see the game go in a slightly different direction, but right now, 4J Studios will have a helluva time keeping people happy. It’s a small world, after all, and until that changes, XBLA’s Minecraft will never reach the level of its PC counterpart.