Around the Block: Soul Sand Valley
Lazy bone zone
Minecraft’s new update has made the Nether a much more interesting place. Instead of endless chunks and chunks and chunks of Netherrack and lava, you’re now able to explore a collection of weird and wild new biomes.
The traditional Nether is still there, in the Nether Wastes biome, but has been joined by Crimson Forests, Basalt Deltas, Warped Forests, and the Soul Sand Valley – which is the biome we’re featuring today.
An aura of haunted stillness falls over the landscape of the Soul Sand Valley. No plants grow in its barren soul soil, except for the occasional patch of crimson roots eking out a lonely existence.
Once, however, it must have been a richer ecosystem – there are huge fossils dotted across the biome that must have once been a part of titanic creatures that roamed the lands. “Those fossils weren’t easy to implement,” explains former Mojang developer Maria Lemon. “Things that worked well in the Overworld like placing a premade structure had to be reinvented and done again when doing it in the Nether.”
Whatever vast beasts those skeletons belonged are long-gone today, replaced by skeletons, Ghasts and the occasional Strider. Interestingly, you’ll also find Endermen tourists here, suggesting that perhaps there’s something they’re looking for...
The Soul Sand Valley is, as its name suggests, a great place to collect soul sand. It’s also the only place in the game where soul soil can be collected – a new block that doesn’t slow mobs down, can be lit on fire to make soul fire, and allows for the creation of basalt. Soul soil is also a crafting ingredient for soul torches and soul campfires, and can be used in place of soul sand to spawn a Wither.
You’ll find huge pillars of basalt in the Soul Sand Valley, as well as glowstone, magma blocks, lava springs, gold ore, quartz ore, and ancient debris. There are Nether fortresses and bastions to be found in this biome too, so tread carefully!
Despite the rich pickings in terms of resources, it’s hard to suggest setting up home in a Soul Sand Valley. Sure, you’re unlikely to fall into a lava sea – but the commonly-found Ghasts and Endermen mean that any shelter you build is unlikely to last very long. It’s a place to get in, get what you need and then get out before you attract too much attention.
Stay tuned to this series to find out where else in the Nether regions we like to set up home, and share your Nether biome survival tips by tweeting us at @minecraft.