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Minecraft's Survival Mode is boring, and it needs to evolve

Minecraft
Minecraft (Image credit: Mojang Studios)

Mojang Studios' Minecraft is an unstoppable juggernaut of a title, with the game notably crossing 131 million monthly active users in the last year. Minecraft also happens to be the best-selling game of all time, and despite being a decade old, it still frequently occupies a very high spot on Twitch and YouTube viewership leaderboards.

Overall, it's clear that pretty much everyone loves Minecraft. However, that doesn't mean there's not room to improve, and one part of the game that could definitely use some improvement is its Survival Mode. Here's why.

Survival in Survival Mode is too simple

Source: TheMythicalSausage on YouTube Player-built castles and other fortified structures look awesome, but currently, they serve no gameplay purpose. (Image credit: Source: TheMythicalSausage on YouTube)

The core issue I have with Survival is that due to how easy and simple it is (even on Hardcore), the game never pushes you to meaningfully interact with any of its building or crafting systems. The game practically showers you with food everywhere you look, and it's possible to create iron armor, iron weapons, a shield, and a bow within 15 minutes of spawning if you know how to find the ore. Once you get to that point, the survival part of Survival Mode is over with — you'll never be threatened by more than a handful of basic mobs at any one time, and any difficult mobs you encounter can be taken down easily from range or with a basic kiting strategy. Even Minecraft's iconic "first night" has become a joke; it used to be something everyone feared, but once players realized all you needed to survive it was a dirt cube, the tension that originally made overcoming the first night special evaporated.

Limitation breeds creativity, and Survival Mode could definitely use some limitations.

I'm the kind of player that likes to have reasons beyond my own boredom to build advanced structures, explore, and hunt down specific crafting materials for new items. Currently, Minecraft doesn't provide many reasons to do these things, and that's because most items and structures I can build in the game lack purpose. Why bother making potions or using enchantments when staying safe is laughably easy already? Why should I build a fort when a dirt hut is just as effective at keeping mobs out at night?

Doing it "just for fun" is a fair answer to those questions, but should that be the only thing driving players to engage with Minecraft's deeper features? I don't believe so. To Mojang's credit, the recent Village & Pillage and Nether updates gave players some new incentives to fortify villages, collect gold, and explore the Nether, but Survival Mode still has a long way to go. And until there are more reasons to engage with the game's various systems, Survival Mode will remain woefully boring compared to similar experiences like Valheim.

Get creative with some new mechanics

Source: Windows Central Mojang should look at Minecraft's modding community for ideas on how to implement some Survival Mode changes. (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

So, how are some ways that Mojang can flesh out Minecraft's Survival Mode? Some ideas I've had include:

  • Roaming mob hordes that can overwhelm the player in direct fights, incentivizing them to build defensible structures.
  • Allowing mobs to break through dirt, encouraging the use of sturdier building blocks.
  • A higher average number of enemies in general to make combat a bit more difficult.
  • New types of ores and equipment to lengthen and expand progression.
  • More dungeons that reward the player with valuable loot, incentivizing exploration.

I think these additions would do a good job of encouraging players to interact more with the game's building, exploring, and crafting systems without making Minecraft feel like a different game. Many modpacks for Minecraft: Java Edition, such as RLCraft, have already implemented mechanics like these and have been met with an overwhelming positive reception from Minecraft's community. Therefore, Mojang should look to these modpacks for inspiration and ideas on how they can be added to the official game.

How far should Mojang go?

Source: Mojang Studios The Warden mob introduced in the Caves & Cliffs update is a new dangerous mob players need to prepare for. (Image credit: Source: Mojang Studios)

It's important for Minecraft to stay true to its identity.

I wholeheartedly believe that Minecraft will be a better game if Mojang fleshes out Survival Mode with new mechanics and mobs that increase the difficulty and drive players to engage more with making potions, using enchantments, building advanced structures, and the game's other systems. That being said, it's also important for Minecraft to stay true to its identity as a creativity-focused survival game accessible to both children and adults. I don't want Minecraft to become too intense or difficult; I just want the game to be a little tougher so that Minecraft doesn't feel like it's bloated with novelty items and mechanics you'll never use.

The best way that Mojang could introduce a revamped Survival Mode is to make it a different difficulty option you can select when creating a world, similar to the Hardcore setting we have now. This would make it so that fans who prefer the original Survival Mode could still play it, while "Survival Mode+" would be there for folks like me.

Your thoughts

Do you agree with me that Minecraft's Survival Mode is boring and needs an overhaul, or do you think it's fine as it is? Let me know. Minecraft is available now on Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, and Windows 10 (and Windows 11) PCs. It's one of the best Xbox games ever, so we definitely recommend picking it up.

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.

8 Comments
  • I think I speak for everyone when I say, "Yup." 7 Days to Die, and old but good alternative until Minecraft catches up to the past.
  • But you don't speak for everyone. Vanilla mode is just fine for me and others like me.
  • I do think they should keep old survival mode for on boarding, but a new mode that is more difficult and more varied is always welcome.
  • This.. they need to keep it the way it is as a default "classic survival" since it is so accessible - the last thing we need is something that is more difficult than it needs to be. Survival isn't just surviving anymore, but finding everything and creating self-built for many..
  • If you don't enjoy vanilla survival Minecraft, I have to argue that is why the mod community exists. Mod the game to your liking.
  • Exactly. I still think Mojang can improve certain things for the average survival user who wants to do more than just trying to survive. I build fancy structures to build a story and to look good. Dirt huts are boring to me. I want to collect things and more importantly, play with friends and family.
    I agree with you, most of what Brendan said is for the modding community to fulfill.
  • I can see what you're saying but... my nephews and nieces are just getting into it and it's perfect for them. Minecraft does so well because people are leaving it, but more of the younger generation is just getting into it. I think what they really need is a new game. One with 16bit graphics instead of 8bit. And they could make that more advanced and difficult for the next level players. It's like Duplo Lego's, they are still fun, but sometimes you just want to play with the more advanced Lego's. Or what about a Gear of War special edition Minecraft version with the superior graphics of Gears games and difficulty, that would be fun. Mining underground and running into the Horde... super fun.
  • Minecraft is not a survival game at its core, it's a sandbox game.
    If you want a more challenging experience you can play multi-player, singleplayer with mods, hardcore mode or just set your own goals, which is the point of the entire game.
    However it's true that with time the game has gotten much easier, especially after Microsoft bought mojang. Still, I don't think minecraft should become a difficult survival game like valheim, and in the long run most of the features you suggested are probably gonna become annoying and pointless to people who are just trying to build and play normally.