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When you travel through the Minecraft world you will come across different environments, many of them similar to those that can be found here on planet Earth. These different landscapes are known as Biomes. There are temperate forests, featureless deserts, spectacular snowy mountains and beautiful plains.
There are more than 60 different Minecraft biomes, and they can be put into five basic categories (Lush, Snowy, Cold, Dry, and Ocean) which we’ll take a look at below. But before we do let’s find out why it can be helpful to know which biome you’re in.
It’s useful to understand Biomes in Minecraft so that you know what to expect, especially if you are playing in survival mode. For example, if you decide to travel across a desert biome, you won’t find many trees, and sand is difficult to build with. If you want to build a shelter with a roof to spend the night in, you are going to have to take some wood with you.
It might be your greatest wish to make a bed so that you can sleep and not have to listen to creepy zombie noises in the darkness of the night. If so, you’re going to need to find some sheep’s wool. For that you need sheep, and they like to hang out in the biomes with trees. Biomes can contain ‘generated structures’ like jungle temples or witches huts. Some of these are filled with goodies, but beware – there may be mobs guarding the treasures, so tread carefully. We’ll tell you more about which structures you can find in which biomes below.
Being able to check which biome you are currently in can also save your Minecraft life. There are times when you might be underground and lost – the way back is blocked by hostile mobs. You’ve run out of torches, you’re scared and you really want to get home to your pet chicken.
You have a bright idea. If you dig upwards you’ll come out into the daylight and be able to find your way home, right? Well, maybe – but not if you have wandered into an ocean biome. If you dig straight up, you’ll end up with a cave full of sea-water as well as hostile mobs. Knowing your biomes can save you from disasters like these.
So, understanding your biomes means you get to know what materials you should be able to find, and what stuff you are going to have to haul in with you. It can also save you from a grisly end. But how do you find out which biome you are in?
If you want to know what biome you are in at any point in the game, there is an easy way to find out. Have you pressed the F3 button yet? If not, try it. You’ll get a sort of ‘Heads Up Display’ with lots of information.
The biome name is over on the left, one or two lines up from the bottom. You’ll see Biome: followed by the biome name, for example, Biome:Forest or Biome:Jungle.
Even if you are underground and all you can see is rock, this method will tell you which biome is directly above your head at that point. The same will happen if you are flying. F3 will reveal which biome is directly under your feet, even if you are too high up to see it.
Now, let’s take a look at the different biomes, and the mobs and structures you will find in them.
As we said earlier, there are five main categories of biome. We’ll take a look at each one, and also give you some top biome survival tips.
If you asked your Granny what Minecraft looks like, she’d probably describe the plains. This environment is where we find lots of the iconic grass blocks, with some low hills and just a few trees and scattered flowers. While running, watch out for cave openings in the ground – you can easily fall into a crevice if you don’t. By climbing one of the small hills you should be able to look around and spot the water and lava pools that are often found here. Passive mobs like cows and pigs often spawn on the plains, and if you want to find yourself a horse, this is the only place where they spawn naturally.
Villages are common in plains biomes and are filled with NPCs (Non-Playable Characters), or ‘villagers’ with whom you can trade, by right clicking on the NPC. Sunflower Plains are a variant of the plains biome, and here you’ll find lots and lots of – you guessed it – sunflowers.
A forest biome can be a great place to start off your survival game because even though it is one of the smallest biomes, there are plentiful wood supplies. Oak and birch trees grow here, there are flowers (used to make dyes) scattered around, and you can sometimes find mushrooms, which you can use for soup.
Unless you enjoy fighting off hostile mobs, you should leave the forest or take shelter at night – the trees make it difficult to see who is coming, and you can easily be surprised by creepers. As for friendly mobs like sheep and rabbits, most of them can be found in the forest. Wolves also live here, and using bones you can tame one, and take him with you on your travels.
Variations of forest are Oak, Birch, Pine and Flower Forests. In all of these, you can find Strongholds and Dungeons.
Roofed forest (sometimes called dark forest) has mainly dark oak trees. These grow a very dense canopy and allow very little light to reach the forest floor. In this gloomy atmosphere, hostile mobs can spawn and survive even in daylight, so take care.
Roofed forests contain all the usual forest items and mobs, but you can find Woodland Mansions here as well. If you do get surrounded by hostile mobs while in a roofed forest, you can escape by climbing up, and traveling across the treetops.
In the swamps, you will find vines hanging from mature oaks, shallow pools of stagnant water, and discolored grass. Blue orchids (used for dye) and lily pads (which you can walk on) only grow in swamp biomes.
Like in dark forests, hostile mobs can hide under the trees in swamps, even in daylight, and you may come across a witches hut, a stronghold or a dungeon. As well as all the usual hostile mobs and witches, Slimes spawn here, especially at full moon, so look out.
You can often find a jungle next to a desert biome. Here tall redwood trees grow densely, and traveling through jungle, or escaping from hostile mobs can be very hard work. The tree trunks can be 2×2 blocks, meaning that you have to dodge around them as you go, and there is so much leaf cover that it is easy to walk up onto the treetops without realizing.
Jungles are well worth exploring, though, as there are loads of useful things to be found. If you like melons, the jungle is for you, as they are common here. Cocoa beans are found only in jungle trees, and you can use these to bake cookies or make brown dye.
As for jungle mobs, there is good news, and there is more good news. First, creepers can’t spawn here, so there won’t be any explosive encounters for players in the jungle. Second, this is the place to tame yourself an ocelot. When you tame an ocelot, it will become your pet cat, and follow you around. Creepers don’t like cats, so you’ll have got yourself a mobile creeper avoidance system.
Jungle temples generate in this biome, and there is likely to be loot inside them. If you happen to get lost in the jungle, try finding a river, build yourself a boat, and drift downstream to another biome.
Beaches generate where ocean biomes join up to another kind of biome (a forest, for example). They are mainly made of sand, and sometimes gravel. Here you can fish or look for sugar cane, which you can use for food and farming.
Mushroom Islands are a rare and unique biome. Their hilly surface is made of grayish mycelium, giving them a strange, moon-like appearance. Most often, mushroom islands are found on their own in the ocean, not joined to another biome type on land. As the name suggests, giant mushrooms grow here.
If you do come across a mushroom island biome, consider making your home there. They are a very safe place, because mobs don’t naturally spawn on them, or in mines underneath them. A mob spawner will still work, though, so in theory, mobs may still appear. If you try to dig here with an ordinary shovel, the mycelium will turn into dirt. To prevent this, your shovel needs a silk touch enchantment.
Mushroom islands are home to the prized mushroom mob. These animals are a cross between a cow and – you guessed it – a mushroom. They can be milked (right click on the mushroom while holding a bucket), milked for mushroom stew (right click while holding a bowl), sheared, and killed for leather and food.
Ice plains are mostly flat and are covered in ice and snow. Any water exposed to the air will freeze, turning rivers and ponds into ice skating rinks. Trees are rare here and will be either oak or spruce. Not many plants can grow on an ice plain, but you might come across some sugar cane. This is a difficult place to survive.
Passive mobs are less likely to spawn in ice plains than in warmer climates. However, you might be lucky enough to spot a Polar Bear if you brave the freezing temperatures. Polar bears are usually neutral, but can become aggressive if you attack them or go too close to their babies. 8 out of 10 skeletons that spawn in an ice plain will be strays. Strays act like most other skeletons, but their arrows will poison you with a slowness potion for 30 seconds.
If you see an igloo as you travel across an ice plain, go and explore it. Half of the igloos have a trapdoor under their carpet leading to loot that you will be pleased to find.
The ice plains spikes biome is a variation on the ice plain, but it is so spectacular, we thought it deserved a little section of its own. This unmistakable biome is the same as an ice plain, except for one big difference. There are enormous spikes of ice all over this incredible environment. Some are as tall as 50 blocks, but they are usually between 10 and 20 blocks high.
This is a variation of the taiga biome, with plenty of added snow. There are the taiga’s usual ferns, giant ferns, and spruce trees. The occasional wolf spawns here, as do rabbits. You may see flowers on the rolling hills, and it is possible to catch a glimpse of an igloo through the trees.
In an extreme hills biome, it may rain or snow, depending on how high you are. This gives the dramatic landscape its picturesque snow-capped mountains, which you can climb for incredible views.
From a high vantage point, you may be able to spot the waterfalls, valleys, caves and even floating islands that this biome generates. A fall from these heights (some mountains are as high as y:130) will be dangerous, though, so climb carefully.
Mining here can produce emeralds, the villagers’ favorite trade item. There are some unique animals found naturally here, too. Llamas spawn on the mountainsides. Llamas are neutral and can be tamed to carry things. Silverfish, however, are the extreme hills biomes very own hostile mobs and will call other silverfish when hit.
The taiga biome has a lot of dense spruce and fern growth. Wolves and rabbits spawn naturally here, so you shouldn’t go hungry. These biomes often generate villages (not on Xbox) where you can trade, live or farm. There are a couple of taiga variations. Taiga M is mountainous. It looks similar to taiga and has sheep, but no villages. Mega taiga is rarer and looks quite different. Here, the colors will be the same, but the trees will be much taller and thicker (up to 2×2 blocks) like jungle trees.
Mega taiga has some different blocks, too. There are podzol, moss stone boulders, and coarse dirt blocks. Brown mushrooms (good for soup) are often found in mega taiga.
The desert biome, just like the desert on Earth, is an inhospitable place. Underneath the sand blocks on the ground, you’ll find sandstone, and only cacti and dead bushes break up the monotonous view. The only mobs that you’ll find spawning here naturally are rabbits, but these are a special golden color, and are camouflaged well against the desert floor. Finding enough food and supplies to survive here is difficult. If you have a pair of shears, though, you can use them to get 0-2 sticks from a dead bush.
At night, hostile mobs will spawn, but you can easily avoid them because they are so easy to spot. You only run a small risk of not spotting a hostile mob at night in the desert M biome (mountainous desert), with its large sand dunes. Desert villages and desert wells can be found here, as well as desert temples. Some temples can be buried beneath the sand, but digging your way in may result in loot, so is well worth the effort.
The Savannah is a flat place with only low hills and no rainfall at all. There are a few acacia trees and lots of grass, occasionally punctuated by a village. Horses and llamas spawn on this grassy open space.
A variant of the savannah is the Savannah M biome. This environment has huge mountains which are sometimes tall enough to go up through the clouds.
A Mesa is a rare biome but is a brilliant source of clay, which is usually found only in riverbeds. This biome is fairly new to Minecraft, as it was added in 1.7. There is even a Mesa Bryce variation which looks like the real Bryce Canyon in Utah, USA. Another variation on the mesa biome is the Mesa Plateau. This biome has the mesas’ flat-topped hills crowned with grass and sparse tree growth. These are very beautiful biomes, and if you can’t make it to the real Bryce Canyon, you can soak up the views in Minecraft instead.
If you do find a Mesa biome, be on the lookout for gold. Mesas sometimes have abandoned mines above ground, and these can contain gold ore, as high as Y:64. It’s not hard to find either – it occurs in the same amounts as iron ore does in other biomes.
Ocean and deep ocean (a variant biome) cover about 60% of the Minecraft world’s surface. The ocean can be up to 15 blocks deep, and you can wade in the shallows, swim, or use a boat to cross it. The deep ocean is up to 30 blocks deep. The seawater fills up to level Y:63, so breaking through rock into the bottom of an ocean while mining can cause a player to drown. It is always worth checking which biome you are in (using F3) if you have travelled a long way underground.
There can be islands in the sea which can make secure bases free from mobs, and the best way to travel to and from these is by boat. Swimming makes you hungry and takes a long time, increasing the risk of starvation and drowning. While swimming you may also be attacked by guardians. Guardians and Elder Guardians are hostile ocean-dwelling mobs who swim close to Ocean Monuments to protect them. They make an eerie sound and will attack if you get too close to the structure, but if you swim away they will not follow you.
The ocean has lots of good things to offer, which balance out the risks of drowning. You can harvest ink from a squid, and go fishing for food. Clay and sand are plentiful here, and lots of loot can be found in ocean monuments. For diving, consider making a Potion of Waterbreathing. This will allow you to spend longer underwater but you will need to find a Pufferfish to make the potion.