Minecraft is a creative sandbox game, in which you can create huge structures and caves to play in. It's a deceptively simple game of building and survival. You can download Minecraft free here (the game client), but it requires a paid account from Minecraft.net to start playing. Note that if you want to download Minecraft 1.1, you can do it from our old versions section on the lower right hand side of page.
Almost anything is possible
Your world in Minecraft is randomly generated, and you appear in a land surrounded by water, with mountains, valleys, trees and animals. It's not clear what to do except explore to begin with but as the sun sets, monsters appear, who will kill you. Survival is impossible in the open, so you need to build a shelter to hide out in for the first night. Collecting wood from trees, coal and stone from cliffs, you have to use your inventory to create tools, planks and more. Once you know how, mining and building is pretty quick, and you can create some really cool structures. You're basically limited by your imagination.
A second realm was added to Minecraft, allowing faster travel through the huge worlds. Called The Nether, it resembles Hell, and is full of flowing lava and monsters. You can access The Nether using portals made from Obsidian you have mined. Also, when you create a new Minecraft world, it will now be more varied, with 'biomes' of different landscape, like desert, tundra and snow. NPC (non player characters) now roam villages, which can serve as early shelters for you at night, if you can find them!
Big improvements in version 1.0
Version 1.0 has some nice cosmetic changes, including an HD texture pack, better lighting from torches and even prettier sunsets and sunrises. The game launcher also looks better. There is now a 'Creative Mode', which makes you invincible, gives you unlimited resources, allows you to fly, and fast forward/rewind time! This mode is ideal for players who just want to get on and build cool stuff, without worrying about staying alive.
If you're having trouble getting to grips with Minecraft, don't forget to check our how to get started in Minecraft guide.
An incredibly vast and imaginative world
Minecraft is a wonderfully inventive sandbox game that really deserves the title, as your creation in it is only limited by your imagination and time!