Action-Adventure GamesClassic GamesConsoleseSportsFighting GamesFirst Person ShootersHorror GamesMMORPGsMobile GamesPuzzle GamesRPGsSimulation GamesSports GamesStrategy Games

Minecraft Mod Examination: Natura

Updated on October 17, 2015

Mod developers have been adding new areas to Minecraft's world for a long time, but there are surprisingly few that try to improve on the locations that already exist. And most mods that do change the pre-existing zones are major overhauls that attempt to adjust how the world itself generates, make various types of structures appear throughout the land, or add new monsters to the game's bestiary. While these changes can be great, they rarely actually fill in any of the gaps in the original areas' gameplay systems, such as the lack of variety in each zone's trees and other plants, the extreme emphasis on hunting for food at the beginning of the game, and the rather noticeable lack of content in the Nether. To solve those issues one needs Natura, a mod built around adding to Minecraft's world wherever it feels lacking.

Redwood trees are easily Natura's biggest landmarks, and can be remodeled into a very impressive home or chopped down to supply players with more wood than they may ever need.
Redwood trees are easily Natura's biggest landmarks, and can be remodeled into a very impressive home or chopped down to supply players with more wood than they may ever need.
Many of the new wood types come with custom doors, fences, bookshelves, and crafting tables.
Many of the new wood types come with custom doors, fences, bookshelves, and crafting tables.

Natura's most obvious change is that it adds seventeen new plants to Minecraft's Overworld, and almost all of these are somewhat rare trees that one can encounter while travelling through certain biomes. There is a huge variety to the new trees, with some such as the redwood towering over the plains, and others like willow and hopseed trees brushing their leaves against the ground. That extreme variety extends to the colors of their planks, and players may have fun attempting to find a good home for some of the more unusual-colored types of lumber such as tigerwood and amaranth. Many of these wood types have unique varieties of doors, bookshelves, and crafting tables, allowing players many more options for how they decorate their homes.

Berry bushes are a common sight in the game's more pleasant zones, and offer an easily accessible source of food for players just starting a new game.
Berry bushes are a common sight in the game's more pleasant zones, and offer an easily accessible source of food for players just starting a new game.

But at the start of the game it's not the new types of wood that players will want, it's the berries. Four varieties of berry bushes generate in clumps throughout the wilderness, and players can use the right-mouse button to harvest their little fruits without damaging the plant. Eating them will only restore about five percent of the player's hunger bar, but large amounts of berries can be eaten quickly, and if one has collected three of the different types they can combine them in a wooden bowl to create berry medley. The bushes can also be broken apart and the pieces replanted, which will slow down production for quite a while, but allows for berry farms and hedges to be constructed.

While a row of three barley or wheat can still be used to create bread, the player can also mash down a piece of either plant into powder, and then bake that to create bread.
While a row of three barley or wheat can still be used to create bread, the player can also mash down a piece of either plant into powder, and then bake that to create bread.

While berries are great for those just starting out, players wanting to permanently solve their hunger problems will likely be better served with the new barley crop. Barley is similar to the original game's wheat in that it can be used in the same ways to produce bread, but it grows somewhat faster, drops more seeds on average, and neither it nor its seeds can be used to breed or lure animals. The plant can naturally grow in random bunches of around ten to twenty, and barley seeds can be collected from fully-grown barley or randomly found in grass.

Saguaro cacti tend to branch out as they grow, so a large farm is ideal.
Saguaro cacti tend to branch out as they grow, so a large farm is ideal.
But while it is hardly optimal, even a small, densely-packed farm area such as this can provide a significant amount of food.
But while it is hardly optimal, even a small, densely-packed farm area such as this can provide a significant amount of food.

Adding more food to the world is great, but sometimes the most important feature of a crop is not its yield or how quickly the player can access it, but where the plant actually grows. New saguaro cacti have been added to desert biomes, allowing those who love the heat to have some kind of naturally generating food source. Like the type of cacti included in the original game, the saguaro can be cooked in a furnace to produce green dye, or placed in an area to harm anything that touches it. However, these cacti also can grow fruits during rough weather, and those fruits can either be eaten to restore a decent amount of hunger, or planted to grow another saguaro cactus. Sadly, the fruits one can gather in the wilderness are unlikely to be enough to sustain a desert dweller through the earliest stages of a playthrough, but once a large farm is constructed they provide more than enough food to keep a player healthy throughout the rest of the game.

Even a small cotton farm can supply players with an impressive amount of string and undyed wool.
Even a small cotton farm can supply players with an impressive amount of string and undyed wool.

The final new Overworld crop added by Natura is cotton. Unlike many crops, cotton is not a food source; instead each piece can be combined in small amounts to make string or wool, meaning that players are no longer forced to kill spiders and shear sheep to access these important materials. Cotton seeds can be planted side by side in fields just like most crops, but unlike wheat and barley it does not need to be broken down to gather the cotton. Instead, one can simply click on a fully-grown plant to pluck off any pieces of cotton without damaging the crop.

Natura's glowing mushrooms do a great job of brightening up the Nether without breaking the dimension's gloomy atmosphere.
Natura's glowing mushrooms do a great job of brightening up the Nether without breaking the dimension's gloomy atmosphere.

As great as Natura's changes the Overworld are, its the mod's additions to the Nether that are truly worthy of praise. Four new and rare types of trees have been added, giving those attempting to live in the underworld a source of wood that does not have to imported from their homeland. In addition, there are four new berry bushes that give players access to food that grows naturally in the Nether. A few new mushroom types have also been added, adding a few more colors to the red and black of the Nether and offering yet another source of food. But players should be cautious, as all of these plants have been affected by the unique conditions inherent to their dark world, and have developed magical aspects such as the ability to explode when cut or apply both beneficial and negative side-effects when eaten.

Not only are heatscar spiders larger and tougher than their Overworld counterparts, they have a very nasty surprise in store for those who try and slay them.
Not only are heatscar spiders larger and tougher than their Overworld counterparts, they have a very nasty surprise in store for those who try and slay them.
Nitro creepers are much happier-looking than the rest of their kind, and love to run up next to players and help them reshape the nearby landscape.
Nitro creepers are much happier-looking than the rest of their kind, and love to run up next to players and help them reshape the nearby landscape.

And it is not just the Nether's flora that has been overhauled, there are quite a number of new animals scattered through the caves. Explorers will need to watch for two offshoots of Minecraft's spiders and creepers, both of which have developed a nasty new trick to go with their unpleasant surroundings. And those wishing to settle should keep an eye out for the new imps, small, pig-like creatures that can drop fire-resistant leather and whose meat is only slightly toxic. These three new creatures may not sound like much, but they are interesting to deal with, and their addition almost doubles the number of beings living in the Nether.

While players will still need to return to the Overworld to gather redstone, the new variations of hoppers, levers, buttons, and pressure plates means that those living in the Nether will still be able to enjoy a little automation.
While players will still need to return to the Overworld to gather redstone, the new variations of hoppers, levers, buttons, and pressure plates means that those living in the Nether will still be able to enjoy a little automation.

But not all of the Nether's changes are related to new forms of life, there are also a few new items that players can construct to make the idea of living in the underworld a serious possibility. There are new versions of some of the game's items, such as furnaces, hoppers, railways, and levers, that can be constructed out of entirely Nether-based materials. Furthermore, if the player can find one of the rare ghostwood trees, they can create an obelisk, which, unlike beds, will not explode and will allow them to respawn inside the Nether. Additionally, some of the new types of wood can be used to construct powerful tools that have the same speed and almost the same strength as those created from diamonds. All of these together still do not make the Nether an easy place to survive in, but they do make living in the underworld a serious possibility.

Natura is compatible with most mods, and has addons that allow its wood types to be used by Bibliocraft and Storage Drawers.
Natura is compatible with most mods, and has addons that allow its wood types to be used by Bibliocraft and Storage Drawers.

Alone, none of these changes are that impressive, but when taken together, Natura does more than almost any mod to enhance on Minecraft's original gameplay. The multiple new types of food help sustain players in the early parts of the game or in less hospitable biomes, and the new types of trees add a little extra color the game's world. The addition of crops, farm animals, tools, wood, and even a new way to set the player's spawn combine to transform the Nether from an inhospitable and slightly boring place, into a highly unwelcoming, but livable pit that one can actually survive in. Natura may not make massive changes to Minecraft's world, but every item it adds fits in well, is useful, and feels like it should have been part of the game all along.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      annoymous 6 months ago

      modlist?

    • TheCliffWalker profile image
      Author

      TheCliffWalker 19 months ago

      Growthcraft is on the list of mods I'm currently messing with, so it will probably be one of the next 5-10 that I do an article on. As for Algaecraft, its site is bookmarked, and I'm planning on using it in a second modpack, but it fills much of the same area as another mod on my "soon" list, so it isn't going to get a write up in the immediate future.

      On a side-note for anyone who's been keeping up with me: Sorry for basically not posting for a month. I managed to go back and rewrite the Lycanite's article, but otherwise I've been too distracted by life to write. Things should be much easier in the immediate future though, and I hope to get back to posting 1-2 articles a week.

    • Rabadi profile image

      19 months ago from New York

      Minecraft is awesome, you get to create your own world which I like I never messed with modding but seems interesting, great Hub! I am following you now :)

    • profile image

      Lord Eric 19 months ago

      Could you do a page on Growthcraft? And/or the now-returned Algaecraft?

    Click to Rate This Article