It looked like a perfect planet. Plans to make a colony ship started that day. But now that we’ve arrived, it’s clear that things are not as they first appeared. A seething, teeming purple biomass covers the surface, spewing forth malign alien entities that cruelly murdered the initial scouts. We aren’t sure if the scans were wrong or if Space Command was just lying to us, but this is not the paradise we were promised.
We’re sending you down to the surface as our last attempt before giving up and taking the Jaded and her colonists back to Homeworld. We’ve got little to offer you besides a glass bioshelter to keep the aliens out. We’re only willing to invest so much more into what will probably be a failed expedition. But if you’re resourceful and lucky, perhaps we can find a way to make this colony work after all.
Update: I’ve started a Blightfall Let’s Play series on YouTube. Come have a look!
Welcome to Biodome Alpha, your new home. The silverwood tree in the center of the glass dome is the only thing standing between you and the terrifying purple tendrils that have taken over the rest of the planet.
Blightfall is a custom Minecraft modpack and adventure map which was released earlier this year and has just come out in updated form on the Technic Launcher. There are many modpacks available these days for Minecraft, which lends itself well to custom content, but Blightfall really stands out because of the immersive, detailed world and compelling story.
Minecraft’s procedural world generation engine can create a lot of interesting things, but once you’ve spent a few hours playing and exploring a handful of worlds, it all starts to look the same. Many players eventually grow bored with the repetitive landscapes, and by extension, the game itself, since it is a sandbox – a game with no set goals or story, where the players choose what to do for themselves.
Blightfall retains the sandbox quality of the game, but rather than a randomly-generated landscape, the world was lovingly crafted in impressive detail by creator Talonos.
The majority of the world is extremely dangerous. The purple tendrils (taint, a part of the Thaumcraft mod) spread slowly over the landscape, halted only by a few rare and difficult-to-produce plants and items. Evil creatures such as tentacles and swarms spawn on the tendrils, along with zombified versions of Minecraft animals, more aggressive and dangerous than standard vanilla zombies and skeletons. When the player walks across it, they will frequently be poisoned, taking slow but near-constant damage. Exploration is essential, but risky. You’ll have to prepare well and plan your route carefully to avoid an untimely death. What’s more, the longer you remain in an area, the more tainted and dangerous it becomes.
But exploration also pays off. Very little of this world was generated automatically, and the creator has hidden secrets and rewards everywhere. Going off the beaten path, you might find some extra materials, a hint at the backstory of the world, or even a secret laboratory or magical workshop.
But you’re not just here to explore and fight purple taint monsters. You are on a mission. Your team came to this planet thinking it was fertile and safe, and now there’s a whole ship full of colonists waiting to land and start their new lives. Somehow, you have to find a way to clear the planet of the evil taint and make it safe to live on.
Fortunately, you’re not entirely on your own. Blightfall uses the Hardcore Questing Mode mod (with hardcore mode disabled) in a unique way, not only to give you goals and rewards, but to slowly reveal the story of the planet. Talonos has created a reputation system where fulfilling tasks for your leaders in the spaceship above will give you points which you can spend to requisition a variety of materials from the supplier.
The quests will keep you moving in the right direction – and keep you busy, too. It’s up to you which path to take. Will you go on missions for the scout, discovering new locations and resources? Create a farm to feed the team and colonists aboard the ship (and yourself)? Try to build up machine technology to automate your work? Spend your time deciphering the decaying magic books left behind by the planet’s previous inhabitants? Or just get out your trusty pickaxe and mine for rare ores for the geologist to examine? With limited space and danger at every turn, you’ll probably have to do a little of each of these things in order to succeed.
Whatever you do, you’ll need to find a way to clean the taint from the landscape. But it won’t be easy to do – or even to figure out how to do. Veteran players of Thaumcraft might have an idea how to begin, but the limited space and resources you have to start with make the practicalities of doing so a lot more challenging than usual. In a normal Minecraft world with Thaumcraft installed, small patches of taint appear in the world and can be fought back and contained with relative ease by a fast-thinking player, but in Blightfall, the entire world is covered in taint from the start.
The icing on the delicious purple cake that is Blightfall comes in the form of its creator, Talonos. Not only has he created a world so detailed and compelling that I’d say it’s worth buying a copy of Minecraft solely to play this modpack, he also stands by his creation. Updates and patches come out just about every day, and he is very responsive to feedback and requests. And for players who have trouble with the quest book at the start, he’s made a tutorial and a video guide to getting started.
If you’re thinking of diving in and giving Blightfall a try, simply pull up the Technic Launcher and download the pack – and maybe grab a few friends to help you, since it’s an enormous task to take on alone! Blightfall is completely free and highly addictive – just make sure you give yourself plenty of time to play, or you might find yourself missing important life events as the hours slip away from you. If you haven’t decided yet, you might want to watch a few Let’s Play videos on YouTube first.