Minecraft 1.6 hands on: when hatches go bad

Minecraft - skelly burns

The Minecraft 1.6 patch landed earlier today. We dived right in, eager to start playing with the new hatches and maps added by the patch. Spiders died, cows exploded and lava spills threatened to destroy everything. Read on for an account of our first hour in Minecraft 1.6, and a video showing how you craft the new maps.

Hatches may sound like a small thing, but when I started playing with them I realised two things. Firstly, given the fact that so much of Minecraft takes place undergound, hatches are far more useful than doors for creating entrances to your underground base. It feels straight away as though they've been in the game forever.

They're crafted easily enough. Simply place six planks in two layers across the bottom two layers of the crafting window. As with hatches in real life, they're very much like horizontal doors, except only one block in size. Right clicking opens and closes them, and they can be operated by switches, at distance if need be, with the help of redstone wires.

I was playing with hatches and switches when a second thought occurred to me. What if I could use these hatches for evil in some way? A hatch gone bad. A trapdoor. When night falls Minecraft's square hills fill up with skeletons, spiders and creepers. The new hatches would work perfectly as a night-time trap for any creature foolish enough to come near my tiny box of a house.

I place a pressure sensitive pad next to a hatch and jump onto it. The hatch opens up invitingly in front of me with a satisfying clack . Bingo. Time to dig a hole so deep intruding creatures stumbling into it would never be heard from again.

But then I realise I'm too lazy to dig such a hole, and resort to plan B: lava. Five minutes of hasty digging later and my masterpiece is complete. My house is only slightly bigger than a cardboard box, but it's a cardboard box protected by a moat of lava, protected by spring loaded trapdoors.

I lie in wait. The sun sets. There's an unmistakable hissing sound. A spider's about. I hear it before I see it, hopping towards me, straight towards my brand new lava moat. Then, at the last moment, I realise I've made a terrible miscalculation.

Spiders are wider than I thought. Fail. I stab the arachnid to death and go to bed. The next morning I head out into the sunshine to craft a map, another addition made by this morning's 1.6 patch. The video below shows you how to craft them, what they do, and features the abortive lava moat in action. We're certain you can do much, much better. Animals were harmed in the making of this film.

Tom Senior

Part of the UK team, Tom was with PC Gamer at the very beginning of the website's launch—first as a news writer, and then as online editor until his departure in 2020. His specialties are strategy games, action RPGs, hack ‘n slash games, digital card games… basically anything that he can fit on a hard drive. His final boss form is Deckard Cain.