It's perhaps not one of the lowest circles as Dante would have us imagine, but the Nether is still pretty grim. There are large numbers of powerful enemies, capable of killing you in a couple of hits if you're taken unawares. The environment is mostly unfriendly; it's dark, everything is on fire, lava cascades from the ceiling and pools on the floor as though it was Satan's personal hot tub and the large veins of soul sand everywhere slows you down. Why, oh why would you go there?

Getting to The Nether

If you don't already have one, you'll need to build a Nether portal to get there. You might feel like you could dig your way down, but trust us, this is a lot easier.

What is in the Nether?

The majority of blocks surrounding you will be netherrack. This is a dark red color with darker bands running through it, and if it catches alight, will burn indefinitely. The good thing about going to the Nether is that you can get by without torches, despite the low light levels. Since the netherrack will burn forever, and it makes up a huge percent of your local resource in the Nether, you can leave a trail of flaming blocks behind you in order to mark your way.

Moving one block in the Nether is the equivalent of moving 8 blocks in the Overworld. If you build a Nether Portal a considerable distance away from your spawn point in the Nether, it will spawn a new portal in the Overworld. Be prepared to potentially be miles away from anything you may have built above ground.

There is no weather cycle in the Nether, nor are there day and night cycles. Compasses and maps do not work properly, and water will turn to steam. Beds will explode if you try to sleep in them, and the explosion is larger than that of TNT. Everything in the Nether wants you to die.

Natural Nether Blocks:

  • Bedrock: Is indestructible, even with TNT and diamond tools. Bedrock forms the lowest and highest layers of the Nether, creating an inescapable hell-prison around you.
  • Glowstone: Hangs in clusters from the roof of the Nether. It produces its own light, and can be broken without a tool. It drops glowstone dust when broken.
  • Netherrack: Burns indefinitely when it is set alight. Can be mined with a wood pick-ax or better.
  • Nether quartz: Drops Nether quartz which is used in a variety of crafting recipes.
  • Nether wart: Nether warts naturally spawn in blocks around stairwells within Nether fortresses. They can also be planted on soul sand, but growth can not be sped up by bone meal. It has three growth stages, fully grown being a thick cluster of red warts sprouting tall from the block.
  • Soul sand: Slows down anything that walks on it, and can be used to grow nether warts and build Withers. Can be mined with or without tools, but spades are faster. The default texture has ghostly faces within it. Spooky.

Monsters of the Nether

There are many enemies and mobs to watch out for in Minecraft, but only specific ones can be found in the Nether — and none of them are friendly.

  • Blazes: Blazes are found in the Nether fortresses. They may drop blaze rods on death which can be used in crafting.
  • Endermen: Endermen are passive and relatively rare. They move blocks around and generally prefer to stay out of the light. Endermen will attack if you look them in the eye.
  • Ghasts: Ghasts spawn in the Nether. They are flying sad octopi that shoot ghast fireballs at you, which hit hard.
  • Magma cubes: Magma cubes spawn anywhere in the Nether at any light level, but are more likely to spawn within the Nether Fortress. There is also a possibility that on death, a Magma cream will be dropped.
  • Skeletons: They shoot ranged arrows at you, and drop bones, arrows or feathers on death.
  • Wither skeletons: Speedy and dangerous, Wither skeletons take no prisoners. They most often spawn within Nether fortresses. These merchants of chaos are able to pick up and use dropped weapons and armor.
  • Zombie Pigmen: Zombie Pigmen are Nether natives. They are one of the most common mobs found in the Nether and are often found wearing armor and holding weapons. These can be dropped on death, and equipped by the player.

Nether fortresses

Nether fortresses are monuments that naturally occur in the Nether. They generally hold a lot of loot but are easy to get lost in due to their seemingly endless corridors and turns and staircases. They are home to blazes and wither skeletons. The fortress is made of Nether blocks, and they sometimes have a tendency to spawn partially within netherrack. This can make finding the fortress slightly difficult, as outer exterior markers may be covered.

Some corridors have a chance of 1/3 of having a chest in them. The list below is items found in chests within the Nether fortress, listed in order of least-most rare.

  • Gold ingot: In almost half of Nether fortress chests you find, it's not as though gold is that hard to come by. It's a fairly common ore and can be found almost everywhere in the Overworld. However, gold weapons are strong and have low durability, so perhaps it's wise to have some on hand.
  • Saddle: Used to ride horses, donkeys, mules and pigs. Can be used as part of the When Pigs Fly achievement.
  • Gold horse armor: Gives moderate defense to your horse. You wouldn't ride Dobbin into a creeper party unprotected, would you?
  • Nether wart: Nether warts naturally spawn in blocks around stairwells within Nether fortresses. They can also be planted on soul sand, but growth can not be sped up by bone meal. It has three growth stages, fully grown being a thick cluster of red warts sprouting tall from the block.
  • Iron ingot: A common and abundant ore in the Overworld. Is used to build first tier tools and weapons; could be handy for crafting on the fly if you run out of materials to make stronger weapons.
  • Diamond: A rare gem used to create the higher tier weapons and armor. Found in small pockets deep underground in the Overworld.
  • Flint and steel: Can ignite Nether portals and most materials and animals.
  • Iron horse armor: Provides less defense for your horse, but still a good idea to keep it safe.
  • Golden sword: -Strong but has low durability. Good to have as a spare, just in case.
  • Golden chest plate: S strong chest plate, but not very durable.
  • Obsidian: Being the most rare, this probably isn't the most efficient way of obtaining obsidian

Can you build in the Nether?

The answer is yes. Depending how high your difficulty is set determines whether or not monsters will spawn within the Nether. If you're playing on peaceful, you can build to your heart's content. If you are playing on any other difficulty, you're at risk of attack while building.

The main enemy to watch out for as soon as you spawn into the Nether is a Ghast. Ghast fireballs can break your Nether portal, but you can build a cobblestone wall around it if you're worried. If you're unfortunate enough to spawn into the Nether in an open area, protecting your portal is the wisest option. Imagine getting stuck in the Nether after having summoned a Wither, and not being able to get back out. Since water turns to steam in the Nether, and Obsidian is so difficult to find in chests, if you didn't bring spares... RIP you.

Beware when mining into the netherrack if you're planning on building into the cliff faces. Lava blocks have a tendency to spawn within netherrack clusters, so be prepared to block up any sudden lava appearances. Taking a Potion of Fire Resistance (or twelve) with you into the Nether is a good idea, as it provides protection against lava, fire and Blaze attacks. The only downside is it requires taking on Magma Cubes in order to get Magma cream, so watch your fingers — things could get hot!

Do you have any Minecraft Nether buildings to show off? Tell us your worst Nether experience!