Custom maps were never an intended feature of Minecraft, but it's not surprising that a game about creation would spark the ambition of its players. Mojang caught on to the trend, and between their recent updates and the support of YouTube, the adventure map scene has become a massive part of the game. A whole sub-community of mapmakers has emerged, using Minecraft not as a game, but more as a tool for the creation of games.
Today, you can find truly unbelievable works, ranging from skill challenges, to narrative adventures, to breathtaking builds. Even better, they're easy to install—much more so than the game's many great mods. You'll can install most maps in this list by searching for %appdata% in your Start bar, opening the '.minecraft' folder, and placing the unzipped file into the 'Saves' folder. Be sure to check the installation instructions of each download, as some maps require additional mods or updated resource packs.
There's an unwritten rule in gaming that goes something like, "if it can be built, there'll be a Game of Thrones mod of it." Clearly Minecraft was going to have its own version of George R. R. Martin's oft-fatal fantasy. Luckily that version is breathtaking in its size and scope. If you need convincing, here's just a small example: the map's recreation of King's Landing features over 2,000 houses.
WesterosCraft can be accessed through a custom launcher that will do everything needed to get you into its immense map. Once there, you can visit a small town that acts as the central hub, imparting server news, setting build rules, and letting tourists portal to a multitude of the book/show's most notable places. You can even sit on the Iron Throne. Well, squat on the Iron Throne. Download WesterosCraft here.
Why is Diversity such an impressive map? Because of how diver–, er, varied it is. It's a CTM—or 'Complete the Monument'—map, in which you add missing blocks to a central statue. In Diversity, those blocks are coloured wool, and each is found at the end of a self-contained level.
Those levels are fully realised challenges, and each takes the form of a different style of custom map. You'll find a "Dropper" challenge, a parkour course, a survival puzzle, and more besides. While none are as detailed as a good map tuned for a single style, the sheer breadth and variety is staggering. Not only that, but it's a great sampler of the different map types favoured by the Minecraft community. Download Diversity here.
Zelda Adventure uses the AdventureCraft mod, allowing the creators to utilise cutscenes, music, custom UI elements and brand new weapons. As such, it's probably one of the most detailed and unique adventure maps available, completely overhauling the game while still taking place in a world that is recognisably Minecraftian.
Your quest (as always) is to rescue Princess Zelda by fighting through six dungeons pulled from Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time. It's a fantastic piece of mapmaking, both as an homage and as an example of the flexibility of Minecraft as a launching pad for custom projects. Download Zelda Adventure and Adventurecraft here.
When it comes to Minecraft multiplayer, it's hard to ignore the phenomenon that is Hunger Games. The blocky battle royale manages to take the best aspects of survival, exploration and hacking each other up with swords. Spawning in the centre of a glass dome, players are set loose to fight, run and scavenge from the chests hidden around the arena.
If you just want to play Hunger Games, you'll need to find an existing server running the map. If you'd rather host your own version, Wasted49's Hunger Games V2 map is one of the best. It supports up to 24 players, and contains booby-trapped chests, hidden puzzles and an automated countdown timer. Download Hunger Games V2 here.
An absolutely beautifully crafted map, both in terms of the sculpting of the floating world you're adventuring across and the effort put into creating an interesting story to experience along the way. Instead of the usual sign heavy text dump, map creator Blame The Controller has created a series of YouTube videos to play in the background, narrating along to you as you play.
It's also one of the tougher maps available. You'll face plenty of mobs as you're dungeoneering, and exploration is encouraged because the secrets hidden around the map actually help to keep you alive. Download Kingdom of the Sky here.
One of the oldest and most popular survival maps out there, Survival Island puts you on a remote desert island with limited resources and asks you to survive. The clue was in name really.
As is common practice for these maps, building shelter and finding food is only the start of what's in in store. The download page contains a series of challenges it expects you to perform, scavenging off the land and finding hidden secrets to tick off a checklist of actions that at first seem almost impossible. Here that includes building an underground tree farm, crafting some bookcases and finding the treasure of the Lost Curator. Download Survival Island here.
This massive undertaking used custom software to auto-map the terrain of World of Warcraft's Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor continents. The result was a 275 square kilometer world that is recognisably Azeroth.
Naturally that world is big to the tune of a 2GB download that unpacks to a 24GB map. For that reason, the best place to see this World of Minecraft is through multiplayer. Unfortunately, the official version is now "indefinitely" offline, so you'll need to find a fan-run server to save that heavy hard-drive space. Download Crafting Azeroth here.
Johto shows just how much you can achieve with Minecraft's command blocks and adventure tools. Sure, it's crude in places—the opening tutorial is told through signs hung from an NPC made of wool and levers—but it contains magic potions, trading NPCs and the most important thing for a Pokemon map: a selection of bizarre looking, weirdly named creatures.
Those creatures are reskinned weapons, meaning you'll be using your pokefolk directly in combat as you travel between the region's many cities. In addition to the detailed locations, quests and bosses, the map even contains it's own soundtrack. Download Pokemon Johto here.
Here's an ingenious map. You're placed in a test chamber and told to stand on a platform and pull a switch. When you do, the platform disappears and you're sent plummeting into the unknown. The only rule: survive to the bottom, dodging obstacles and often fiendish tests of agility.
Take the second room. Just a typical scene from a Minecraft forest, but sideways. You're dodging trees, marvelling at the sight of leaves whooshing past and, oh look, is that a lake over there? Ha, it's also sideways, that's clever. Wait, so what's that in front of me? OH GOD IT'S SOLID GROUND! Download The Dropper here.
Try to ignore the way the map's creator has decided not to capitalise the opening T of "the Code". That's a matter best left to the punctuation police. And the questionable name is attached to a fiendishly clever puzzle game that's well worth your time. In the code, you must work through a series of challenge rooms, each of which hides a specific number sequence. Find it, and—by renaming a scrap of paper with the Anvil—you can unlock the next room.
This initial map has spawned two sequels, both of which continue with increasingly clever challenges built out of Minecraft's systems. Codes 2 & 3 should work in the latest version of Minecraft (1.7.9). To play the first, you'll need to create a profile that rolls the game back to version 1.6.4. Download Title here.
Had this just been a recreation of the Land of Ooo, that would have been enough. Adventure Time: Adventure Map goes even further, with a mathematical challenge through Pendleton Ward's weird cartoon world. Across its many missions, you'll be given heroic quests pulled from episodes of the show, including They Went to the Nightosphere and Trouble In Lumpy Space. To really highlight the look of the show, the download also includes a texture pack. With it, Minecraft is transformed into an explorable cartoon full of colour, fun and giant candy structures. Download Adventure Time Adventure Map! here.
Ironfall may not be the biggest PvP map among the Minecraft community, but it is the only one that lets you call down giant
golems from the sky. As an adaptation of Titanfall, it's remarkable—containing not just falling uber-weapons, but also a double-jump move, a selection of guns, and a recreation of the game's Rise map.
Rather than download the map, you can access it directly from The Chunk—a multiplayer server that specialises in a selection of multiplayer maps and game types. To play it, just directly connect to "thechunk.net" within Minecraft and find the portal that leads to Ironfall. When you enter, the game will automatically download any files and resource packs that you need. We've come a long way from the dark days of building crude hovels out of dirt. Find Ironfall here.
Gloria is a brilliant bit of adventure map creation with some really innovative use of redstone circuits to support its questing system. The map is inspired by Lost, starting after a shipwreck and sending you to help out the survivors and work towards a mysterious facility.
There are plenty of puzzles to tackle and fights to be fought. The whole thing is presented beautifully with a great custom texture pack and a new soundtrack in the form of songs to play in the background (Minecraft adventure mapping is still delightfully crude). Download Gloria here.
Parkour maps are comprised of huge strings of jumping puzzles. They're either great or desk-thumpingly frustrating depending on your tolerance for losing huge chunks of progress after mistiming a ladder jump. Where most offer a long string of linear platforming, Assassin's Creep is an open town full of rooftops to clear and spires to clamber up.
Your job is to track down nine blocks of wool from the top of towers. But, as in the game it's not-so-subtly inspired by, there's also plenty of hidden feathers in chests about the map. Assassin's Creep comes with a custom texture pack to give everything that Altair feel. Download Assassin's Creep here.
In Deep Space Turtle Chase you play Professor Tagonist (geddit?), who awakes from cryogenic stasis to track down and apprehend a criminal aboard a mining station. What follows is a truly impressive adventure full of puzzles and exploration around a surprisingly dense sector of deep space.
It takes a bit of work to install, but the full experience contains both a custom texture pack and a selection of unique sound effects and music. It also contains some fantastic set pieces, with the suspiciously minecart shaped escape pod journey from the exploding space station being a particular highlight. Download Deep Space Turtle Chase here.
SkyBlock is a map that tests how well you know Minecraft. Like, really know it. Past the surface stuff down to its deepest quirks and idiosyncrasies. You're placed on an small, three block deep island in the sky. On that island is a tree and a chest. In that chest is a bucket of lava and a block of ice.
Not much, right? So build a Nether Portal. Or craft 10 Snow Golems, cook 10 fish, and any of the other challenges listed on the map's download page. It's all possible, but requires being extra careful that you never waste a block. Download SkyBlock here.
While nothing like the scale of Crafting Azeroth or WeserosCraft, Newcraft City is still a beautifully realized creation. It takes a bunch of famous skyscrapers, including a restored World Trade Centre, and mashes them together into an architect's paradise of a landscape. Best viewed with the custom hi-res texture pack, Newcraft City is a great map to stick in Creative mode to have a wander through. It also contains a tram system to take you around the various sights and a bridge to the new Vector City, where, at the furthest edge, you'll find a Biohazard wall keeping back hordes of mobs. Download Newcraft City here.
You'll see a few creations from talented mapmaker Hypixel in this list. Herobrine's Mansion is a classic, which uses the legend of Minecraft's hard-to-delete spectre as the basis for a sprawling adventure through a haunted mansion. Inside you'll find tough mobs, custom weapons and a series of cleverly tuned bosses. Naturally, this makes it hard as all heck, and while it can be played in single-player, you're better off bringing a friend. Download Herobrine's Mansion here.
Vechs' Super Hostile series is a collection of maps designed to make Minecraft hard. Really, really hard. Some are short on resources, some are full of traps, others are full of monsters. There's a wide variety of worlds on offer, from the giant trees of Canopy Carnage to the sparsely lit Black Desert. But while each map is themed around a different idea, they all have one thing in common: they want you dead. Download the Super Hostile series here.
The Epic Jump Map series is responsible for some of the best parkour courses available for Minecraft. The Butter Edition is a personal favourite, although not because of its unusual theme. To recap: squids rule the world, the land is corrupted, and everything is yellow for some reason. Forget all that; the real reason to take a look is a well-paced campaign that intersperses its tricky jumping puzzles with periods of combat. Or fleeing, if you prefer. Download Epic Jump Map: Butter Edition here.
This was a strange slice of insanity. To promote the release of Far Cry 3, Ubisoft commissioned the creation of a Minecraft map themed around the game. Sure, it's an advert, but it's a good one. The map was created by Michael Lambert, the creator of Newcraft City, and as such, features a well-built selection of locations from the game. In addition, there are secrets to find, spawners to destroy, and a custom texture pack to install. Download Far Cry 3 (for Minecraft) here.
Aranis is an Elder Scrolls inspired map and so, fittingly, it's humongous. The adventure contains hundreds of quests and loads of cities and villages to explore. And there are Oblivion gates, because everybody loved Oblivion gates. You'll also full NPC support, money and even a built in questing system. As a result, getting it fully working is something of a pain, requiring you to both downgrade your Minecraft version and install a custom mod pack. Full instructions are available on the download page. Download Aramis here.
Makes great use of the Portal mod by providing a load of Portal test chambers to use it in. Portalcraft is another great example of the malleability of Minecraft, adding in turrets, energy spheres, custom sounds, and a whole new set of achievements for progressing through the puzzles. Sure, you might be wondering why you'd play Portal recreated in Minecraft when you could just play Portal, but... look, shut up okay? Download Portalcraft here.
Another map from Hypixel (and SethBling), only this time, it's PvP. Team Fortress 2 is, as the name suggests, a class-based multiplayer deathmatch set on a recreation of the Dustbowl map from Valve's usually less geometric shooter. In keeping with its inspiration, it's a control point match in which two teams fight to attack or defend a series of control points. What makes this map so clever is that it also contains classes: using command blocks to equip players with their specific loadout choice. Download Dustbowl here.
You start The Sunken Island in the middle of the sea, surrounded by flotsam. So far, so Minecraft. Head away from that spawn, though, and you'll find a beautiful island full of mystery, oceanic waterfalls, and a really big mountain. Your job, aside from the usual task of survival, is to find the portals that tell the story of the island. Beyond that, your only other task is to marvel at this wonderful creation. Download The Sunken Island here.
Gotta go fast! As it is for Sonic games, so it is for Sonic maps. In a change of pace to the standard parkour format, this map is all about completing the course as quickly as possible. At the start, you're given special boots that let you run faster, jump higher and fall safer. As you sprint through this version of the Green Hill Zone, you'll find obstacles, checkpoints and even spring pads to propel you on your way. Download Sonic the Hedgehog here.
In case you hadn't noticed yet, fan-made remakes of popular franchises make up a decent chunk of the custom map scene's output. In case you were worried: yes, there is a Star Wars one, and it's called "Star Wars". It was the first adventure to be created by the now prolific Hypixel, sending you on a short quest to save hostages and disable an AT-AT. Download Star Wars here.
Escapecraft is map series that brings room escape adventure gaming to Minecraft. Each one is a collection of puzzles that make use of the game's - er - interesting physics system to create some highly memorable moments. Escapecraft 3 is probably the most fiendish release yet, featuring some really kinetic rooms full of redstone powered mechanisms and fishing rod based challenges that are lot of fun to work through and (hopefully) defeat. Download Escapecraft 3 here.
It was inevitable that, when parkour maps became a thing in the Minecraft community, someone was going to do a Mirror's Edge based one. Minecraft's Edge is a series of jumping puzzles that go through buildings, around rooms and down into a sewer. Unlike Assassin's Creep, here you follow a linear route, but are required to make some tricky technical jumps to get where you need to go. Download Minecraft's Edge here.
Ant Farm Survival is a map set in an ant colony looking out over a giant Minecraft house. Inside this slice of terrain it's up to you to do the usual survival map things: scavenge, craft, explore, build, and complete a series of entirely unconnected challenges just to prove that you can. Here you have the bonus objective of destroying the mob spawners that are pumping out enemies and visiting the menacing Nether ant farm. Download Ant Farm Survival here.
Hey look, it's another Valve inspired Minecraft map! Mine 4 Dead: Blockhawk Down gives a Chicago based map that is absolutely teeming with zombies. True to the source, it's best played on hard mode with a bunch of friends. Much of what makes it so notable is down to the included texture pack, which gives the mobs an L4D styled reskin, and creates an abandoned world full of desolation and survivor graffiti. And zombies. Lots and lots of zombies. Download Mine 4 Dead here.
Skylands contains multiple large floating islands full of things to explore. Each island has a different theme, from wooded areas to beach lands, and many contain treasure rooms full of neat stuff to pilfer. With so much available, the survival aspect of this survival map is a bit underplayed, but there are multi-floor dungeons to track down and plenty of other secrets and areas to encourage a thorough exploration of these interesting lands. Download Skylands here.
Explore a dying world, devoid of plant life, but bursting full of decrepit buildings, brown terrain and, of course, a buttload of monsters. As in Bethesda's RPG, the depressing desolation of Fallout Minecraft makes for a great space to go adventuring through. Traps are everywhere, buildings are full of loot and there's lots of new places to explore. Download Fallout Minecraft here.
A huge parkour obstacle course comprising 216 challenges across 23 stages. Each stage has a different theme, with the map ideally played a few challenges at a time over a long period. It's a testament to the intricacies and variety present in Minecraft's seemingly simple platforming, and the map continues to get bigger, with creator tetrix1993 continuously working on new content. Download t3c here.
More floating islands! Stratosphere Survival is a sort of halfway point between SkyBlocks and Skylands, containing a series of small, heavily themed islands. There's a nice selection of terrain types, from the standard forest, sand, fire and ice islands, to the less common floating abandoned city. Each one also has some bonus adventuring to be done deep underground. Download Stratosphere Survival here.
More showing off with redstone. Questworld is a breathtakingly clever example of the way you can weave puzzles into towns, then have different elements combine into a great natural centrepiece. Plenty of humour, lots of stories and sidequests, and a secret puzzle if you're feeling really clever. Download Questworld here.
Revenge of the Gods is an exploration heavy adventure map. It's a relatively sedentary experience, played on peaceful, about finding your way and working through the story and puzzles. What really makes it worth a look is the absolutely spectacular open areas that you're travelling through. It makes for a beautiful tourist attraction. Download Revenge of the Gods here.
Minecraft has zombies, which makes it a pretty suitable candidate for zombie survival games. In Ruins of the Dead you—and some friends, should you download the separate multiplayer version—must battle against wave upon wave of increasingly difficult undead hordes. To help you survive this perilous trial, you collect points for every zombie killed. Those points can be used to purchase a selection of weapons and goodies. Download Ruins of the Dead here.
And now for something semi-morbid: a full 1:1 scale recreation of Pripyat and the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. It's a work in progress map, but even now is incredibly detailed and accurate. It makes for a fascinating Minecraft project, really highlighting the lonely, eerie emptiness that sometimes shines through in the game. Download Pripyat here.
We couldn't finish without a nod to our own server, which is chock-full of masterpieces created by our tireless and talented community. Sure, you'll not be sent on a grand quest, be challenged by the trickiest puzzles, or asked to craft a church out of two blocks and a tree; but if you want a land of wonder, the map will give you unexpected and unbelievable sights at every turn. You can even join in: just find an unclaimed patch of land and ask an admin for build permissions. You can find the PC Gamer UK Minecraft community here. To access the server, connect in-game to the new address, 188.8.131.52:25765.