Minecraft's low-fi charms were predictably the first thing modders took to 'fixing'. The ruddy textures, while distinctive, are an obvious target for an upgrade if you stare at them long enough. I confess that when I found a texture pack I loved I've never gone back to the original look: I'm going to start off with that one and then explore the the rather vibrant world of Minecraft Texture packs. There's nothing too crazy in here: those packs tend to be part of larger mods that fundamentally change the game, and that's another article entirely.
But what we do have here is a fantastic selection of textures that bring all sorts of style to the game, from the ultra-realistic to the cartoonish to far out sci fi. There’s even an animated textures included, a feature supported since development snapshot 13w02a was released, although they’re not yet implemented in the main game. Not sure how to grab and install one of these snapshots? Don’t worry, I can help you with that too. Click through to be delighted by the variety and vibrancy of Minecraft’s many texture packs.
Before you begin, download and point the MCPatcher at your Minecraft install: it'll enable the game to run with HD images on the blocks, which many of these packs include.. If you want to try out any of those animated textures with a development snapshot, here’s how to test Minecraft snapshots. It’s not difficult and the rewards are well worth it.
All these textures are compatible with the latest release version of Minecraft, 1.4.7, but if you do try some of the very newest snapshots, do be aware that they will likely contain new elements that the texture pack creators haven’t yet made textures for, meaning they’ll either be blank or even invisble.
Okay, ready now? Let's start with something big and bright. We're going to change the world, or your world, at least.
A lot of texture packs have a theme that they try and nail, but Joli's is about personal expression: he made a texture pack, a sort of twee fantasy world that best reflected his own happy demeanour: the swirling sun is definitely a sight more cheerful than the default, squat square. Jolicraft feels like a warm summer day. But even more impressive are the customisation options: you can build your own texture pack at the site, choosing how the game represents everything from doors and shadows, to water drops and clouds. It's a remarkable thing.
This is one of the most popular texture packs out there, in part I’m sure because it too is quite customisable, but also because it has some fantastically creepy-looking skeletons and it does a fine job with surfaces, be those rock, cobblestone or even netherrack. Compared to Jollicraft, it’s a much more sombre pack, but a Minecraft world looks surprisingly good with muted colours.
And if sombre is your sort of thing, then I thoroughly recommend you give this pack a try. As well as its slightly faded walls, its glimmering starfield and its gorgeous moon, this steampunk pack also features some fantastic tools and skins. Just check out the how golem looks now:
Another pack with a buildable core: Dokucraft is one of the most famous texture packs for Minecraft: a cute, generic fantasy riff on the world. If it wasn't overtly fantastical now, it will be after this pack. Look at the details on those doors! That's a skull inset.
While we’re on the subject of customisation, you should also have at this pack, which is as much a tool as it is a way to revamp the look of your game. Not happy with the pack you just downloaded? Want to contribute your own ideas? Why not get started here, it’s not as difficult as you might think.
If you'd prefer something a little more subtle, a little more muted, then Isabella's gentle shading might be what you're looking for. Its tones are softer, its wood warmer and its stone faded, all of which gives it a more natural feel. As natural as a world made from giant blocks can ever be, that is.
Some of us, I’m sure, would just prefer the prettiest textures that they can find and Chroma Hills is certainly one of the best-looking out there, even if it’s beautiful stylings are slightly at odds with the blockiness of Minecraft’s world. To get the very best from it you’ll want to make sure you use some shaders too, but even without those it’s still a fine lookin’ thang.
Creative One’s Medieval Texture Pack
Another lovely HD patch, the Medieval Texture Pack features a lot of subtle and yet very smart touches, such as the glow from an Ender chest (see the video below) or the woven texture in wool blocks. It also gives much of the game a very worn look, which, it turns out, suits Minecraft very well indeed.
oCd Texture Pack
I dabbled a bit with oCD's texture pack before settling on Short Stuff's: it takes the minimalist approach, rendering all the blocks in solid colours with bold lines. It's striking, and removes the organic nature that I wanted. The colours seem a bit bolder and punchier. The theme is actually disco, hence the funky trailer.
Misa's Realistic Texture Pack
Realism is an odd term when you're talking about a world made out of cubes, and yet it's one of the most prevalent goals for the Minecraft modding community. If trying Isabella has made you want something grubbier, something with muddier ground and fluffier clouds then Misa's pack brings all this to the game. If the real world was built out of cubes, it would look a bit like Misa's interpretation. It's not flashy, it's for those looking for a "grim up north" feeling. And the pigs are terrifying.
This is my antidote to Misa's grubby brown realism: if Misa's texture pack was Game of Thrones, then Summerfields is LotR before Frodo goes off in his quest. The browns here feel like they glow, radiating the heat of the summer day that beats down from the fuzzy, circular sun: even the skeletons feel a bit cheerful I'm pretty sure the people who live in Misa's end of the world would take holiday in Summerfields.
The flipside of the inevitable realism packs was that someone would endeavour to convert Minecraft to a comic book style. The blocks demanded it. BDCraft's is a gorgeous, and essentially reverential, upgrading of the base Minecraft graphics: switching between them is like putting on glasses and seeing everything clearly for the first time: ore is full of clear gems, the new grass as chunky as an anime character's head. It's sharp, colourful and a good upgrade to base Minecraft that retains its flavour.
This pack almost turns the game into Borderlands, drawing bold black lines around mobs and objects, but still keeping everything very recognisable and extremely true to the original look of the game. With these textures, Minecraft becomes posterized, but also an awful lot clearer. While it might not be to everyone’s taste, or terribly easy on the eyes, you can’t deny that it has style.
Animated texture packs are still a rarity, partly because relatively few people are going to use them right now. Since animated textures are only supported by a recent development snapshot, most players won’t have a version of Minecraft that can make use of them and will have no reason to seek them out. That said, more and more people are trying those snapshots and we’d like to think that perhaps PCGamesN’s encouragement has had some part in this.
This pack adds some wonderful animations to the game, wonderful because they’re so subtle and a great example of the tiny but impressive changes that animated textures can make. Unmined ores sparkled in the darkness, weapons shine and lava seethes.
I’m sorry, I just had to end with something a little different, something a little sillier. Who says Minecraft should only be about the pseudo-fantasy, pastoral theme? BladeCraft throws it into the near future and creates something... well, actually, something really quite impressive. I feel bad for even suggesting that this is silly now. Now enjoy what is by far the coolest of all the videos in this post: