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Around the Block: Windswept Hills

There’s summiting about them!

In 1923, famed mountaineer George Mallory was asked by a reporter from the New York Times why he was trying to climb Everest. His answer was short and sweet: “Because it’s there.” 

Perhaps that’s why, whenever I spy one of Minecraft’s magnificent mountain ranges, I too feel the need to clamber up to its summit. Finding your way past the tortured topography, up to the snow level, and then through the clouds, feels fantastic. When you eventually reach the top, you get to see the Overworld from an entirely new angle 

Mountains first became a part of Minecraft in 2010’s Halloween Update – which also added the Nether, fishing, and pumpkins. When originally added they weren’t a biome of their own – but in beta version 1.8 they found a home in the “Extreme Hills” biome, which were renamed as Mountains around the Update Aquatic. 

In the second part of the Caves & Cliffs update, we’re renaming them “Windswept Hills”, based on feedback from Mojang’s mountaineering team. Their expeditions reported that the reworked biome contains mostly stony and grassy terrain, with a few oak and spruce trees here and there, and some tall grass. Wild llamas spawn here, as do silverfish – and the extreme tectonic forces that formed the mountains also result in the formation of exceptionally rare emerald ore. 

There are also windswept forests, which feature groves of oak and spruce trees. If you want to build a mountaintop log cabin then a windswept forest biome is a good choice for the availability of building materials and fuel, and the views are sensational. But you’ll inevitably have to climb to get in and out – and the risk of falling to your death is substantially greater than building in the plains. 

Finally, there are windswept gravelly hills – where the top layer of grass is replaced largely by gravel. These peaks are a barren wasteland without much in the way of resources except for the chance of emeralds. They’re also more difficult and dangerous to climb, due to the tendency of gravel structures to collapse when disturbed. 

Living in Minecraft’s mountains isn’t always easy. You’ll need to create a safe path that allows you to travel from your home to the plains below without risk of falling. And any mines that you dig will need to go much deeper. Quite often you’ll be buried in snow. 

But those annoyances are easily balanced out by access to rare emeralds, the herds of friendly (or not so friendly) llamas, the relative safety from mobs and other players, and – best of all – the astonishing views over Minecraft’s blocky landscape. 

Duncan Geere
Écrit par
Duncan Geere

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