Updated: Minecraft – Pocket Edition Review

With version 0.2.0 now available on the App Store, Minecraft – Pocket Edition still doesn’t feel like a satisfying representation of its desktop counterpart, but at least it’s showing signs of improvement. You can now extract coal and other resources from the world, but there’s very little need to bother with it, as crafting has yet to be implemented.

Survival mode has been introduced, but it really doesn’t capture the spirit of the survival mode we all know from Minecraft proper. You’re given unbreakable tools and a limitless supply of many kinds of resources including torches, and that really undermines the fun of trying to survive. There are now mobs like sheep and zombies, so there is some actual gameplay, but it just isn’t quite where it needs to be for us to feel comfortable recommending it.

We’re optimistic, though. As promised, the new features in this update indeed lay the foundation for a richer Minecraft experience. As more feature updates roll out, we’ll keep you posted.

With each update to the game, Minecraft – Pocket Edition has included more of the features we’ve become accustomed to from its desktop progenitor. However, this is the first time the mobile experience of the game has really clicked with us, forcing us to bump its score up to a 3.

Crafting is now in the game, which means the resource gathering introduced in the previous feature update is actually meaningful. As such, survival mode is much more compelling and we can now say that Minecraft – Pocket Edition doesn’t simply feel like an underwhelming set of compromises inspired by Minecraft proper.

The small, finite worlds that are generated in the mobile game are still disappointing compared to the infinite expanses of the non-mobile version, but it remains to be seen if it’s even possible to implement such a feature on iOS devices, as they may not be powerful enough to handle it.

Ultimately, there’s been no better time to grab Minecraft – Pocket Edition, so if you want to mine, craft, and build on the go, you should get this app.

Who doesn’t like Minecraft? No, seriously, tell us; we’ll fight them. We’ll also have a choice word or two for whoever decided to put Minecraft – Pocket Edition up for sale in its current state.

In case it’s your first day on the Internet in like a year, there’s an indie sandbox game called Minecraft that has pretty much set the world on fire. Even though it’s just getting its official release today, it’s already sold more than four million copies. Four million. Yeah. So the company behind Minecraft, Mojang, isn’t one you need to feel charitable towards when you see the $6.99 price tag on their iOS app, especially when it’s so underwhelming.

It’s the end of the world as we know it.

Even though there’s a paid version of Minecraft on PCs, there’s also a free version known as Minecraft Classic. It’s available to play in your browser on the official Minecraft website. Much like this mobile game, there are no resources to gather, items to craft, or enemies to protect yourself from. The world also is also finite in both the Classic and mobile versions, unlike the (nearly) limitless main game. Our problem is that Minecraft for iOS is less appealing than the version Mojang gives away for free.

Now, Minecraft has an aesthetic that some people might call ugly, but most of us find it charming and maybe even beautiful. The vast, procedurally-generated expanses you encounter combined with the vibrant color palette make for the kind of singular experience that Minecraft has been celebrated for.

Minecraft – Pocket Edition, on the other hand, is like an ugly, cloudy day in the Minecraft multiverse. The draw distance is very short, and there’s a thick, grey fog obscuring the boundaries of what is being rendered. There’s no skybox, and hitting the edge of the world (which doesn’t take long) feels jarring.

It’s like a glitch version of the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

It’s not all bad, though. The game controls really well, better than we would have expected. You’ll automatically jump up onto surfaces one block higher than where you started, and you can create and destroy things with just one finger. Popping blocks into the world by tapping on the screen is satisfying in a very visceral way, and we’re impressed that Mojang was able to come up with such an elegant control scheme for a game that started as a first-person mouse-and-keyboard game. You can control your avatar in either first- or third-person view, as well.

If the price was lower, it’d be easier not to be offended by Minecraft – Pocket Edition’s shortcomings. This release costs about one-quarter of the desktop game’s full price, but it doesn’t feel like it’s close to a quarter of the amount of fun. If this is what Minecraft needs to be to run on a phone, maybe it should just stay off of our pocket-sized devices. It’s possible that Mojang put this out before they should have as a reaction to Junk Jack, but–even though Minecraft is the sandbox mining game and it feels wrong to say this–you’d probably be better off getting a copycat for a dollar.

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