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Revue #1 - Biomes O' Plenty

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Chiaroscuro avatar Chiaroscuro
Level 61 : High Grandmaster Ladybug
This is the first in a potential series in which I give my critical take on mods, resource packs, or anything else in relation to Minecraft. Join me on this journey as we take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of this game that we know and love.

On the Basic Facts

Biomes O’ Plenty (hereafter referred to as BoP) is a mod developed by Glitchfiend, Adubbz, and Forstride that was first released in 2014. It is compatible for Minecraft versions 1.7.10 through 1.12.2. The authors have a handful of other mods, all geared toward expanding the Minecraft experience.

The basic premise of this mod is that it adds an incredible number of new biomes to supplement the vanilla biomes in Minecraft – according to the wiki, 67 new biomes have been added to the game. With those extra biomes comes a whole palette of new trees, flowers, blocks, and mobs; most new biomes have one or more trees that are unique to that biome. Another notable component of the mod is the array of new ores, which serve no functional purpose except for the creation of endgame novelty items.

On the Survival Experience

Arguably, the biggest gap in vanilla Minecraft play that this mod fills is exploration – with dozens of biomes to explore, one would be hard-pressed to discover every single biome, no matter how long one played. The big benefit of this is the long-term playability in single-player. As the game draws on and the player has acquired endgame items like diamond gear, large farms, and the like, there are still experiences to be had exploring the myriad of biomes. The natural beauty of the biomes aid in this endeavor; because many biomes have custom trees, there is a level of naturalism that can be achieved with this mod that is impossible in the vanilla game.

Take, for example, the oak tree: as one of six trees in Minecraft, it must be able to conform to a large number of the Minecraft biomes; that is to say, the code does not allow an oak tree in the Jungle to be different in shape and size to one in the Plains, and so the few variants of oak must fit into all of the biomes in which it is found.

On the other hand, the mangrove tree is exclusive to the Mangrove biome in BoP, which allows for more leeway for the design of the tree itself (not to mention that mangrove trees in real life also look like they do in-game), and more visual variation between biomes that contain unique trees.

My point in mentioning this is twofold: one, that it is this variation between biomes that makes this mod so conducive to exploration, and two, this goes hand in hand with a customizability seldom seen in mods of this scale. It is worth pointing out here that biomes are separated based on their temperatures and the average amount of rainfall they get. The default BoP world generation uses an algorithm to make biomes within a medium-sized area correspond roughly in those two qualities, and so it creates a world that is semi-believable in terms of biome placement.

If one dislikes that, one can simply go into the “Customize World” tab and change the biome grouping level. For more variation, one can confine the groups to small scale or even turn it off entirely. And for those who dislike having glaciers adjacent to their deserts, the temperature- and rainfall-groupings can be expanded to encompass a larger area.

The combination of these factors greatly increases the long-term playability of single-player survival, a gamemode that I’ve long felt to be severely lacking simply because of its repetitive nature. However, the mod becomes a wholly different beast in its decoration opportunities.

On the Building Experience

For building, this mod is both a blessing and a curse. With so many new trees and plants, the repertoire of building materials expands exponentially. As in vanilla, every type of wood plank comes with a stair, slab, fence, and fence gate variant. For builders, this is a veritable godsend; we finally have a whole spectrum of colors to choose from, allowing us to make those blue slab roofs that we were never able to do in vanilla.

Of course, as most things do, this comes at a price. A small one, admittedly, but every astute builder’s eye would be at least slightly annoyed by the prospect of being forced to use a wood texture when one would rather use a tile, smooth stone, or other texture for a structure.

But the curse of this cornucopia of options lies in the fact that there are so many of them. With so many blocks to play with, one can create immensely complex builds surrounded by carefully constructed landscapes utilizing all of the many blocks on offer. And that’s exactly the problem.

A basic tenet of building is that a build must be a part of its surroundings, so that it feels as though it belongs where it stands. That can mean anything from a path that leads out of the front door to a custom biome of careful landscaping. But as structures become more complex and landscapes become more flushed out, the difference between the handmade and the generated becomes more and more apparent. Past the slightly rundown walls of one’s masterfully-made city lies a series of landforms generated by an algorithm, that pales in comparison to the touch of a terraformer. Inevitably, one would wish to terraform outside of their build to provide a better vista, or around their cross-map roads to avoid the generated monstrosity of a landscape; one thing leads to another, and then where does one stop? At what point do we say that’s enough, I’ve terraformed far enough and now I will leave the rest of the world as it was generated, featureless, lacking detail?

It is on a related note that I bring up the subject of trees. Certainly, the addition of many new types of trees is very beneficial for builders. But because so many of these new biomes revolve around trees, that presents the aforementioned problem once again, albeit in more specific terms.

It is generally accepted that handbuilt trees are better than generated trees, and while many of the new BoP trees are leagues ahead of vanilla trees in terms of a naturalism, this idea still rings true. The basic problem is that there will inevitably be a line that demarcates the area of handmade trees from the area of generated trees, an ever-present barrier that lurks on one’s mind.

On the Subject of Performance

Certainly, many of those who use mods like BoP have the resources to do so. But many others who use the mod, especially considering the young demographic that Minecraft appeals to, are using a less-than-optimal machine to run the game.

Most of the new biomes introduced in BoP are biomes that contain trees to some degree. This can range from the occasional shrub in Marshes to the omnipresent leafage in Redwood Forests. With leaves comes inevitable lag, especially if one is used to playing with other resource-draining improvements like shaders or other mods. Even without shaders, weaker systems tend to render the game unplayable even at the most basic suggestion of having to render leaves. As such, it often becomes the case, especially in Creative, that flying through a heavily-leafy area becomes tedious. One must wait for chunk errors to resolve themselves and invisible trees to render, making navigation difficult at best. Hardly a fault of the mod creators, but certainly a flaw of the mod.

In Conclusion

The Biomes O’ Plenty mod has become a staple of many modpacks, especially adventure-based ones, and for good reason. It presents a novel environment that one can adventure through almost infinitely without exhausting all its content. The huge selection of building materials provides a greatly expanded palette which gives the discerning builder an even more expressive medium with which to paint his or her masterpiece. Yet, everything comes with a cost, and this mod comes with a large one, contrived as it may be. Certainly, there will be those who can look past it with ease, call me crazy for even thinking of such a thing, but there will be others who share my sentiment. We can’t change the entire generated world, but Biomes O’ Plenty gives us the tools to dang near try.

Final Rating: 8.5/10

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08/21/2020 4:27 pm
Level 1 : New Miner
User3200293G avatar
cade o link
04/16/2018 10:38 am
Level 35 : Artisan Lemon
LimestoneOwl avatar
can you download this?
04/16/2018 12:02 pm
Level 61 : High Grandmaster Ladybug
Chiaroscuro avatar
You can download the mod here
04/06/2020 4:48 pm
Level 1 : New Explorer
AnityV avatar
04/15/2018 5:36 pm
Level 68 : High Grandmaster Sweetheart
Rhines avatar
I am an uncultured swine, however, this is great
04/15/2018 11:03 pm
Level 61 : High Grandmaster Ladybug
Chiaroscuro avatar
Haha much thanks!
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