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Minecraft: Battle Multiplayer Arena Mode – Hands-On Preview

by Kyle Hanson

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Today Microsoft and 4J Studios unveiled a brand new multiplayer mode that will be arriving for Minecraft’s many console versions this June. Titled Minecraft: Battle, the new mode is a minigame of sorts, pitting players against each other in specially crafted arenas. While the news just broke today of this mode’s existence, we actually got to go hands-on with it awhile back (see more gameplay footage here). Having not played Minecraft in a while, it was surprising how quickly this new mode brought me right back into the fold, and left me with a desire to play more going forward.

Minecraft: Battle is sort of the Hunger Games style multiplayer modes that fans have been trying to perfect for years. While the PC and its mod support has allowed some of these types of games to flourish, consoles have to rely on 4J Studios to put together anything they might want. They’ve done that with great success here, offering what seems to be the tightest and best representation of Minecraft multiplayer that I’ve seen in quite some time.

In Minecraft: Battle, eight players online, or four locally fight it out to see who can survive the longest. But you won’t just be punching each other with your fists. Instead the arena is littered with crates, full of useful items. In true Hunger Games fashion, matches begin with everyone in a circle, surrounding a massive pile of loot. Weapons, armor, and food are contained in these chests, and the players will have to scramble to grab them first if they want to survive.

This is Minecraft: Battle Multiplayer Mini Game

Of course, if players could punch each other from the moment the game said “go!” it would just be chaos, so there is a configurable time period where everyone is invulnerable. This allows for the mad rush to the center, and then a scramble for more items, or a good hiding spot. Players will truly feel their adrenaline pumping as they figure out what they were able to snag from the crates, and then rush off into the hills, trying to find more, or another player to take out.

The tension really builds quickly and only gets better throughout the game

The tension really builds quickly and only gets better throughout the game, as you watch each of your opponents fall and realize that you might be next. Once it comes down to the final two, and Showdown flashes on the screen, you begin to strategize and figure out how to come out ahead. It easily delivers on the promise of Minecraft’s multiplayer battles that players have been putting together on their own for some time.

What makes Minecraft: Battle stand out is the attention to detail that was put in by the developer. 4J Studios has hand crafted three excellent maps, with more promised as DLC for the future. And the mode itself is tailor made to give players a tight, and fun multiplayer experience. With unbreakable arenas, a secret filled lobby area, and randomized loot chests that can be modified by the host to deliver a more personalized experience.

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Actually, there are quite a few options that players can tweak, such as hunger levels, item respawn times, and the time limit for the opening invulnerability. There are also other options to configure though, so mess with them and see what works best for your gaming group.

Overall, Minecraft: Battle really surprised me with its quality. I expected a fun romp in the world of Minecraft, with players pitted against each other in the usual manner. Instead it felt like a true multiplayer battle mode, which is something that Minecraft has lacked for some time. It’s great to see it added here, and I am already looking forward to the rest of the minigames that 4J, Mojang, and Microsoft are likely working on right now.

Minecraft: Battle hits PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Wii U this June.

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