The latest big update to Minecraft is the long-awaited overhaul for the hellish Nether dimension. The dangerous, lava-filled endgame area has been pumped with new enemies to fight, blocks to craft with, and biomes to explore. In the leadup to release, Mojang said that it wanted the Nether to become not just a place you could live but one where you might even want to. Which sounds like a challenge to me.
Back before there were bees or bears, I spent a lot of time doing permadeath saves in Minecraft—a delicate dance of managing health, hunger, and knowing when to turn back before you dig too deep. No matter how scary Mojang has made the Nether, I can handle it. So I decide to pull the equivalent of buying a one-way ticket to a foreign country. I start a new world, use creative mode to build myself a Nether Portal, throw away the key on the other side by destroying the exit portal, then slap myself back into survival. Lay it on me, lavaland.
This is still Minecraft, so the first order of business is punching the trunks of some new Nether trees. I was fortunate enough to land in the teal-colored Warped Forest biome, the least dangerous of the new environments. The Warped Stems become bluish Wood Plank which become my first set of tools.
Over my shoulder is a symphony of familiar zug zugs and zwoops. I have a whole forest of new Enderman neighbors, though they're mostly ambivalent to my antics. They used to stress me out, but I know they're now the least troubling locals who might be lurking nearby. Sure enough, after throwing together a hasty blue plank house I spot the neighborhood bullies milling about over on the next hill.
I paid enough attention to the Nether Update patch notes to know they're aggressive on sight. However, they love gold so much that they'll give a pass to any player wearing a piece of gold armor. I look at my flimsy wood sword and pickaxe, wondering if perhaps I didn't do quite enough research before committing to this Nether life scheme. Nonsense! I am an explorer, documenting my findings for those who will venture after me.
There are enough Piglins patrolling the nearby area that I decide proper apparel should be my next mission. I skirt the hog hangout in search of Gold Ore, which the Nether now populates with as well. Fortunately for me, it's about as prevalent as Quartz, making it short work to mine the 36 Gold Nuggets that become a new pair of gold boots. I'm able to snatch up even more than that, meaning I've got enough Gold Ingots to offer up for trade to the greedy piggies.
More than once, a Piglin charges directly at me, blowing up my heart rate as I panic, thinking "I swear I have my gold boots on!" Turns out they just like to mess with you. When it comes to trading though, they do play fair. I right click to hand a Gold Ingot to one of my many local gold-wearing Piglins. After staring intently into the soul of its new treasure, the piggy thoughtlessly chucks a present in my direction. In return for Gold Ingots I get all sorts of other Nether materials in return: Glowstone Dust, Ender Pearls, Nether Bricks, and a pair of shiny new iron boots with a Soul Speed enchantment that makes walking on Soul Sand a breeze.
Standing around assessing my haul is about the moment I realize I'm hungry. I remember hearing that the new Hoglin mobs can be killed for pork and bred as a food source. So I hop my way into a nearby Crimson Forest thinking of pork tenderloin. A rumbling snort somewhere over my head is the only warning I get before a Hoglin descends on me, throwing tusks and wailing as I try to duck and weave my way out of the oppressively low canopy of the blood red forest. I don't even think of turning to fight, assuming my gold boots and wooden sword are no match. I escape, but barely.
Okay, hog farm is a project for another day, I decide. A mushroom garden sounds more manageable for now. I'm not too proud to subsist on soup. Lucky for me, brown and red mushrooms aren't terribly difficult to come by, dotting the hills surrounding the lava pools in a nearby Basalt Delta. While I'm there, I discover the new Blackstone blocks nearby which turn out to be a substitute for cobblestone. I craft myself some slightly nicer tools, plant a few mushrooms in the rear of my hovel, and brew a batch of soup for the road.
A Respawn Anchor is another necessity for life in the new Nether, at least if you're planning to make it your permanent residence. It's crafted with six Crying Obsidian, which Piglins seem to offer up in trade regularly enough, and a bit of Glowstone Dust. After placing it, I charge it with four Glowstone Blocks, guaranteeing me four resurrections here within my new Nether abode.
With a respawn point set, soup in my pockets, a stone sword, and a bit more gold armor, I start to feel bold. This new Nether isn't so frightening after all. Well, aside from all the heart pounding close encounters I had getting this far, but I've put those out of my mind already. I'll need diamonds for weapons and armor if I ever really want to be the top mob around here, so I skip directly into the jaws of a Nether Fortress.
By this point, I'm joined in the fortress assault by my partner via a LAN session. Here, the classic Blaze and Wither Skeleton enemies—coupled with a few lurking Hoglins—highlight how feeble our gear is compared with how we normally strut into the Nether. More than once, we're forcibly evicted from the classic Netherrack hallways by familiar enemies. Eventually we manage to worm our way in and out with the spoils of a few treasure chests: diamonds, saddles, and potions of fire resistance.
In truth, we've died multiple times by this point, using cheat commands to teleport back to one another from the overworld before we've managed to craft our Respawn Anchors. We've tumbled into lava, accidentally mined gold ore in front of jealous Piglins, picked fights with enormous Hoglins, and been screamed at throughout by our old friends the Ghasts.
Despite the death and despair, we did manage to eke out a life in the new Nether. I may not have worked out how to wrangle a Hoglin farm yet, but my humble mushroom garden keeps us fed. Receiving Iron Nuggets from Piglins may be too rare to rely on for an armory, but we've at least got our somewhat protective gold armor.
As with my old days in the overworld, I've already got a mental list of all the feats to accomplish in my Nether-only lifestyle. I certainly won't be the only one attempting it, so I look forward to learning from other folks' efficient Hoglin farms and gorgeous Nether mansions. It's not the easiest lifestyle, but I've rarely chosen easy in Minecraft anyhow.