The Interface of Minecraft

Before you can get stuck into playing Minecraft, you need to know the basics, so, here’s a quick guide to some of the first things you’ll see when you load up a new game.

The main information is at the bottom of your screen. The row of hearts on the left represent your health. There’s 10 hearts, each of which is split into halves, giving you 20 hit points in total. There’s loads of ways you can lose health, and its pretty much as you’d expect. Don’t get attacked by monsters, fall of a mountain, run into cactuses, set yourself on fire or drown. There’s a number of ways to regenerate your health, but the main one you need to know about to get you started leads us to our next item – that row of chicken drumsticks on the right.

These represent your hunger. As long as at least 9 of those drumsticks are present, your health will naturally regenerate, half-a-heart every few seconds. You can keep it topped up by eating things. And you need to – if your food bar is empty, your health bar will actually start to deplete. As you would expect, your hunger bar depletes as you do things that use up energy – mining, walking, fighting, swimming, running, jumping and so-on.

Next up, underneath this, is that slim row of rectangles – this represents your experience, commonly known as XP. You’ll collect ‘experience orbs’ from a number of activities, such as breeding animals, killing enemies, mining and smelting various ores, cooking and fishing. When you begin playing, this might all seem inconsequential as it seemingly has no direct bearing on your gameplay. But, these points will be needed later on, when you cash them in to enchant or repair items, using the anvil and enchantment table. These allow you to imbue your weapons and armour with additional beneficial qualities, such as increasing your protection in various ways, or making your weapons more lethal, at the cost of a number of XP levels. That’s something you’ll come to much later, so we won’t get bogged down in it now but, suffice to say, you’ll want to gather XP as you will need it later on.

At the very bottom of the screen, the row of squares you see represents your nine ‘hotkey’ slots. At any one time, you can have 9 of the things you’re carrying quickly accessible by allocating them to the numbers 1 to 9 on your keyboard. Obviously the mechanic for this is slightly different for console or mobile versions, but the principle remains much the same. You’ll actually be able to carry far more than 9 items, as you can see in your inventory screen. There’s an additional 27 slots for storing more items, plus four ‘armour’ slots. Equip armour there and you’ll now have an additional row on the gameplay screen, above your health bar.

This represents the level of protection your armour offers: the more you’re wearing, and the higher quality materials you used to create it, the more protected you’ll be from attacks – up to an 80% reduction in damage when full. As you would expect though, your armour will not last forever, and you’ll periodically have to craft new items. Before you can craft anything though, you’ll have to mine some resources, which brings us to our final point. Mining is achieved by using your primary action button on any block at all in the game, from grass, to wood, to stone and beyond. You’ll know which one you’re pointing at thanks to that handy white crosshair in the centre of your screen. Placing items works in exactly the same way, but with your secondary action button. Easy!

So there you have it. Hopefully that’s given you a bit of an overview of the game’s interface and you’re ready to begin your Minecraft adventure.

Do you love Minecraft? Then watch Minecraft: Digging Deeper – new episodes every Wednesday on the GINX channel – written and hosted by Steve McNeil! Check out the TV Guide for more information.

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