Minecraft claims the throne for being one of the most open world survival experiences going right now, and staying alive the first couple of nights isn't usually too difficult provided you've crafted yourself the essential items.
Once you've got your tools (and perhaps some spares), and you've crafted yourself a rudimentary safe house just for the meantime, it's time to start thinking long term.
Here are some things to consider when you're in Minecraft for the long haul.
1. There's no place like bed
Seriously, once you're settling in and ready to start thinking about long term, one of the first things you're going to want to think about crafting is a bed. Beds can only be used by one person at a time, though you can have multiple beds in a game. Sleeping in a bed at night will skip to the morning, and this works with multiplayer, as long as you're all going to bed at the same time. If you die, you will respawn from the last bed you slept in -- let's just hope that your bed isn't too far from your point of death...
Materials required: 3 wool, 3 planks. Wool doesn't need to be the same color.
2. Building a home sustainably
Building a home-base in Minecraft is something of a must. It's a safe place for you to respawn from should you die and provided it is well lit, it can also be a sanctuary from monsters and mobs. The main and most abundant material available almost immediately is wood, so it stands to reason this would be a great material to build with. The variation of wood means you can have almost any kind of wood effect you like, and depending on which way you lay it, you could create some really cool looking buildings. But there are two problems.
Wood buildings catch fire. Easily. Even a wooden block being hit by lightning can set it alight, and once one block is burning, the others are sure to follow. This is also an age-old griefer trick, to join someone's game and burn down their painstakingly crafted creations.
The other problem is that inevitably, the wood will run out. The trees will start to become more sparse and you'll find yourself traveling further afield for your precious resource. So what to do about it?
When you remove the trunk of a tree in Minecraft, the leaves will eventually begin to wither away, and in doing so, it will drop a number of saplings. The saplings can be replanted, and they'll take a little time to grow. Once they're fully grown, you can chop them down and rinse and repeat with the saplings. Viola, a (near) endless supply of wood.
Cobblestone is a great material for building, it has high blast resistance making it much less damaging when a Creeper comes knocking, and it is found almost everywhere.
Materials required: Saplings, and lots of them; and cobblestone for the castle of your dreams.
3. Setting up a homestead
Where is the best place to lay some foundations and start hoarding like there is no tomorrow? Technically, anywhere is a good place, providing you have the sustainability to stay there. Some ideal places to consider would be grass biomes that connect to hills and or forest biomes. This way, the animal mobs will spawn regularly, you'll be close to a supply of wood (remember to plant the saplings for maximum wood potential), and the hills are usually a good source for coal which you can craft into torches. Alternatively, setting up near water means you could have a steady supply of fish, and potentially sand and clay.
4. Food and where to find it
Possibly the easiest way of gathering food is to attack any roaming animals you may see. With an abundance of cows and chickens roaming the lands, it doesn't take too long to pull out your sword and go ham on the free-range farmyard friends. Once you've collected a decent stack of raw meats, you can place them in the furnace to cook. An even easier way of getting cooked meat is to set fire to the animals. That's right, set fire to them.
Using a flint and steel, crafted with a flint and an iron ingot, you can set the area around an animal ablaze until it walks through it. The animal will rush around in a flaming frenzy momentarily, and Abracadabra, cooked meat at your feet.
You could also build a farm. Farms are generally only limited by your imagination, but there are a couple of rules to follow to make it work.
- Use a Hoe to till the ground so it's ready for planting.
- Make sure there is a water source beneath or next to the plot of land you have just tilled. When a plot of land is watered, the tilled plot will turn a darker shade of brown.
- Sow seeds that you find in chests or create seeds within the crafting menu using the various pumpkin or watermelons you may stumble upon while on your journeys.
- Certain additions can be made to the plot after sowing seeds. Bonemeal will act as fertilizer and speed the growth of a variety of crops such as mushrooms, pumkins, watermelons, wheat, saplings and tall grass.
It's generally a good plan to build a small fence or wall around your farm as animals are prone to raiding your crops.
5. Staying safe
Once you've got your tools in abundance, and you've collected enough ores, you can smelt them into ingots using a furnace. You can use these (and diamonds) to fashion into weapons and armor, and then should you want to be a total bad-ass, you can even enchant them.
Wearing armor will grant extra damage protetion, and the various enchantments will provide buffs.
Staying safe also means picking your battles well. You may feel pretty invincible with diamond armor with protection buffs and a sword with +5 attack, but what if you're surrounded by mobs and they all want to attack you at once? Pick your fights. Are you likely to take out a skeleton, a spider and a zombie all at the same time, or would it be wiser to take them out individually?
6. Know where you are
Back when Minecraft seeds were smaller, it wasn't too difficult to whip out your map and try to get the lay of the land. Now, with the possibility of infinite map sizes, maps come in parts and navigation using them is considerably harder. There are other ways you can keep track of your position however.
Early in the game you could build a tower with lights on the side, like a flaming totem pole of dirt. Later, after you've collected some pretty rare materials, you can build a beacon.
Beacons are small pyramid shaped monuments that when activated, shoot a beam of light into the sky. This is great for navigation as the beams can be seen at a considerable distance. Further to this, the beacon will also bestow buffs on any nearby players.
You could also lay a trail of light producing blocks so if you get lost at night, you have something to aim towards.
Materials required: Nether star, torches, anything that creates a light source.