Minecraft Mod Examination: Enviromine.
For the most part, Minecraft is a rather easy game. Yes, the occasional Creeper might sneak up on the player, or a bunch of Skeletons might turn them into a hedgehog, but for the most part once one knows all of the game's tricks it becomes rather hard to die on normal difficulty. And while there are several mods that add new challenges to the game, most of those rely on Minecraft's rather uninspired combat system, and make few changes to how the game is actually played. But Enviromine is a different sort of challenge mod, one that brings several forms of realism to the game that touch on nearly every part of the experience, from building to survival.
The first new concern a player will likely have trouble with when Enviromine is installed is thirst. Thirst is a logical addition to Minecraft, and is easy enough to handle in a substandard way, just use an open hand to drink from any water source such as a well, river, or fountain. But the source that one drinks from is very important, and while most areas have a small chance of causing some minor ill effects, drinking from an ocean will dehydrate the player, causing a stacking debuff that can eventually cause them to start losing water as fast as they drink it if the do not reach a fresh water source. Similarly, the stagnant water in swamps and jungles is also unwise to drink from, as it is especially likely to cause either poison, hunger, or both. A better method than simply drinking unhealthy water is to boil it, either in a cauldron or by heating up a bottle of water, and constructing a dedicated water-purifying area is highly suggested for anyone living in such areas.
But while water is important, the greatest factor to consider when constructing a new base is the temperature. All biomes and other logical sources of heat now have their own temperature, and regulating it becomes vital for survival. Whenever the player is around great heat or extreme cold they will slowly develop up to three stages of debuffs, and those who stay in such unsafe places without properly managing their temperature will eventually die. So players in cold biomes will need to avoid swimming, warm their water before drinking it, and design their home so that it has interior heating in most areas. Hot biomes are a bit easier to handle, and as long as the player stays hydrated they won't develop any major issues. However, they will still be drenching themselves in sweat, making the thirst system even more important as they are forced to drink more and more water to stay healthy. Most of the ways in which people attempt to control their body temperature will work as expected, so those who are too hot should seek the shade, and players who are too cold can try and find lava, start a fire, get closer to the planet's core, or dive into the Nether and boil in their skin.
The third of Enviromine's new resource bars that players will need to keep track of is air quality. With this mod installed, one will now have to deal with possible lack of oxygen to breath even when they are above water. The amount of healthy air starts to get smaller the deeper into a cave system the player goes, and various bad things start to occur such as a dimmed screen, severe debuffs, and eventually asphyxiation. But while caves are where this problem most naturally occurs, there are other sources of air trouble the player will have to deal with in the form of gases and smoke. For instance, while the air around furnaces, torches, fires, and lava is not likely to cause trouble immediately, over extended periods the fumes can sicken the player. But just like thirst and heat there are plenty of ways to deal with unhealthy air. Constructing ventilation shafts as part of one's mines is the most time-consuming way, but the player's air will be restored almost instantly upon entering a ventilated zone. In addition, any plants or fungi that the player manages to grow in low-oxygen areas will have a slight purifying effect on the air around them. But the coolest way to manage air quality is to use the new respirator item, which will cleanse any air the player breaths, but occasionally requires new air filters to be built.
But it is the natural underground gases are the most immediate threat to one's lungs and general safety. The first to be discovered by most new players is methane gas, which is released either from mining coal, or by placing a torch on top of a coal deposit. This gas can poison players, is highly flammable, and will quickly get in their lungs, forcing players to think about everything they do around one of the most common resources in the game. But while this is the most frequently encountered type of gas, there are two others currently included in the mod, and from what is listed on the wiki it seems that at least three more are planned.
The final new resource that Enviromine users will have to worry about is sanity. Long periods in the dark, at low health, without sleep, or around dangerous or otherworldly monsters can cause the player to start hearing and seeing things that do not exist. Nausea will also start occurring at lower levels, and while insanity won't directly cause death, the number of non-existent monsters and sudden sounds might prod the player into doing something that will get them killed. Thankfully, this is also the easiest resource to manage, and a night or two of sleep will generally fully restore a player's sanity.
But there is much more to Enviromine than just those four bars, now the player will need to think carefully about the stability of all structures, whether built by the player or naturally occurring. A simple physics engine is implemented that takes into account the type of block placed and the location of other nearby blocks to determine structural integrity, and any stress such as the player's weight on an unstable structure can force it to fall. Stress can also be applied randomly, so floating islands, sand dunes, and naturally generated caves can collapse at any point, which is both a terrifying hazard to one's safety and an awesome way of cleaning up some of the stranger aspects of Minecraft's world generation. Blocks do not just fall straight downwards either, if there is nothing on the side of less solid blocks such as dirt, gravel, or sand they will now fall diagonally, and while landslides are not as deadly as cave-ins, they can certainly kill unwary players.
There are also a pair of pretty major changes to torches to keep in mind. Now they can burn nearby flamable blocks such as wood, meaning that the player will have to very carefully think about how to light their home. What is even more troublesome is that torches can now go out after a random amount of time or when struck by rainfall, turning into sticks and making caves and homes go dark and be able to spawn monsters again. While one can easily relight torches using flint and steel, these new weaknesses do a lot to encourage players to venture into the now horrifically dangerous Nether in search of glowstone.
The last, and least immediate threat one will have to fear is an advancement upon the food system already in Minecraft: spoilage. Food now usually lasts only one week before it turns rotten, which means it will become nearly inedible. Players will now have to resist the urge to slaughter animals and harvest crops if they are not planning on eating them within the next few days. But for those who have managed to collect food and wish to somehow preserve it, there are two expensive new items, esky's and freezers, that can preserve food for longer periods of time. However, those with a surplus of food sources may choose to let some of it rot intentionally, as rotten food works similarly to bonemeal, and can make surprisingly good fertilizer to help with farming.
But Enviromine is not limited just to dangers, it also adds a number of useful items, such as the previously mentioned freezers, a hard hat that takes the damage from falling blocks away from the wearer and onto it, and a new light source in the form of the gas-detecting Davy Lamp. Additionally, a whole new and dangerous cave dimension full of ores is accessible by building a new elevator structure near bedrock. And finally, villagers will be able to help players in several ways, such as priests restoring the player's sanity or butchers giving players food if they are starving.
But the best thing about Enviromine is that it is so heavily configurable. Nearly every single aspect of the mod can be adjusted, from the placement of the user interface to turning off specific disliked features, and it is naturally compatible with many other addons. Even in cases where there are issues such as multi-block structures falling apart due to the physics engine, one can manually adjust how Enviromine reacts to an each type of new block and even make them burn nearby flammable objects similar to how torches work. While the configuration files are massive and there is a lot to search through, if the player is willing to put in the effort, the mod can be set up so that it is compatible with almost anything.
Enviromine is a fantastic choice for those looking for a new way to approach this nearly six year old game. While many mods add to the gameplay, very few go into the already existing systems and change the experience to this much of a degree. It adds multiple new gameplay mechanics to consider in both survival and the design of the one's home, is fully configurable, and touches on nearly every single aspect of the Minecraft experience.