When Minecraft swept the gaming world by storm, it was a surprise, runaway hit. However, as with many PC games that garner such a widespread and devoted fanbase, it took no time at all for modders to arrive on the scene with their best and brightest ideas–texture packs, interface alterations, and even wholly redesigned game modes. Today, Appamatix is going to show you some of the best texture packs that you can find online, to give your Minecraft gaming a little bit of sprucing up. After all, the game has been out for a good long while, and something needs to be done to keep it looking relative in comparison to modern titles, right?
If you’ve never played Minecraft, it’s forgivable. If you’ve never heard of Minecraft, then you are due for more education than I can provide in this brief guide. However, a quick ‘n dirty primer can get you caught up to the general premise of the game, and help you to understand why modders are having such a great damned time with it.
Minecraft is all about freedom. It has quite literally redefined what it means to be a game in the “sandbox” genre. Sandbox games are all about the freedom to interact with the game systems, in whatever way you’d like to, and that is exactly what Minecraft is all about. You build. You explore. You gather resources. You do a myriad combination of it all in whatever way that you want to.
We’ve seen modders go absolutely wild in other games that are relatively sandboxy. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is one of the most heavily modded PC games of all time, competing primarily with Minecraft for the title of king of that particular hill. What each title has proven is relatively the same–gamers adore the feelings of freedom that can come from enjoying these games without the boundaries and constraints designed by the original developers. Considering how supportive those studios are of people in the mod community, it’s safe to assume that the developers are happy to see their games so well-received.
One of the first things that you’ll notice upon examining Minecraft is that it isn’t exactly blessed with the most astounding of graphics. Rather, it seems to revel in the lo-fi edges and pixelated textures that make up all of the objects and characters that inhabit Minecraft worlds, and in spite of this seeming lack of graphical fidelity, it manages to look good anyway.
However, just because it looks good doesn’t mean that gamers are going to leave it alone, which brings us to the feature of this little guide: texture packs.
When you mod a game with a texture pack, you’re essentially replacing all of the artwork that occupies the surfaces in the game. Look at the patterns displayed on animals, characters, structures, and even the environment, and you’ll see artwork that’s covering 3D models. A texture pack usually doesn’t modify the 3D models, but it does replace the art that’s covering them. Sometimes, those textures will honor the quality of the original graphics that shipped with the game, while others will greatly enhance them, to the extent that a computer with significantly more horsepower might be required to enjoy them. There are dozens of different texture packs available online for you to download and try, but in the interest of pointing you towards the best of the best, we’ll be looking at the top texture packs.
If you want a rundown on many of the most frequently downloaded options, take a look at the mods available through the Minecraft portal on Curse gaming.
I’m not sure if this is the most popular texture pack that you’ll find online, but it’s my personal favorite and is frequently touted amongst the modding community as being exceptional. The reason for this, so far as I can surmise, is because it’s one of the single best additions you can make to your game if you enjoy crafting and designing massive structures in the game.
The JohnSmith texture pack is all-around great, but the environmental and structural textures can help your creations to pop out in ways that they might not, otherwise. Stones can new shape and dimensions, and wood surfaces look particularly fantastic. In addition to that, character models get some renovation and remodeling too; they look quite a lot better than the vanilla, without altering the themes and color palettes too much. Anyone looking for the best “beginner” texture pack for Minecraft won’t be disappointed with JohnSmith.
It’s hard to mention “realistic” in the same breath as “Minecraft,” but one look at Misa’s texture pack will show you that picturesque realism isn’t exactly what’s intended by this particular title. The cubic, stylized graphics that are so identifiable with Minecraft are clear and present, but the colors and textures present on them are turned “gritty.” While the shapes remain cartoonish, the art gains the realism present in this mod’s title.
It’s not for everyone. If you enjoy the cartoonish brightness present in the vanilla game, this particular texture pack might not be up your alley, but that hasn’t stopped it from being one of the most highly-sought mods. Like JohnSmith above, you’ll get the most satisfaction from Misa’s texture pack if you already have some experience with the game under your belt, and have tried your hand at crafting some more impressive things. Those who love to create large working models of buildings have found a lot of joy with this mod, so if you want your colors to look a little less bright and a little more “grubby,” try this out!
More and more, video games are referred to as a form of artistic expression, and some time spent with Jolicraft is very likely to convince you of just that. It’s hard to describe in only a few words, but the Jolicraft texture packs (as well as everything you can create yourself, just from the website), bring a certain lightness of mood to the otherwise stark colors and bright palettes of the vanilla version of Minecraft.
Designed by Jolicoeur (which means “Happy Heart”) it should come as no surprise that most of the new art in this particular texture pack follows the creator’s namesake. It’s happy, it’s pleasant, and the muted softness of the colors added to the game provide a much more mellow (and occasionally meloncholy) mood to everything that you build and encounter.
While other games attempt to use graphics to bring them closer and closer to hyperrealism, other titles outright embrace the styles of comics and cartoons. Finding that a certain level of surreal detail can be achieved by patterning traditionally 2D art techniques on 3D models, some interesting trends in storytelling have been cropping up. Look at TellTale series games (The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, and more) if you want a great example of this style at work–the studio makes some of the best.
If you find yourself fond of that style, then the Cartoon Default texture pack for Minecraft is going to be right up your alley. It adds hard, black lines and distinguished edges to almost everything in the game, making those lo-fi 3D graphics almost comic bookish in appearance. Like many of the other extremely popular texture packs on this list, it’s going to be hit and miss (but mostly hit.) If the “realism” of Misa’s Realistic Texture Pack didn’t quite trip your trigger, give Cartoon Default a try to take Minecraft’s graphics in another direction.
Contrary to the texture packs above, Steampunk is just…wild. While the others all seek a certain real (or surreal) quality in the textures that they add to the game, this one goes for something almost otherworldly. The colors still differ vastly from the vanilla version of the game, but what’s visible in the skies–and how the lights there affect the color palette of the fresh textures–gives this pack a certain kind of beauty that really pushes it up on the list.
As is typical of the steampunk genre, much of what’s cool about Glimmar’s texture pack has to do with contrast. Muddied texture and muted colors will contrast with vibrant, beautiful backdrops, illuminating at once both a grittiness in the foreground and a beauty in the environment that it’s set against. This mod truly captures the essence of the genre, and if you’re at all a fan of anything steampunk, you’ll be overjoyed at the fresh coat of paint that it applies to Minecraft.
Of course, this list could go on and on, and which texture packs are considered “the best” is an entirely subjective line of thought. My best may be different from your best, but as far as the internet at large is concerned, the above texture packs are some of the most often-downloaded Minecraft mods.
Oftentimes, people turn to texture packs to breathe a little bit of extra life into their game, but I would urge you to give these a shot just for the sheer fun of it. While the vanilla version of Minecraft is certainly good, there’s no reason to stay stuck with it when the modding community has added such valuable content. The best Minecraft texture mod, after all, is going to be the one that contributes to the aesthetic of what you’re building.