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Minecraft Xbox 360 update 9: how to beat the Ender Dragon and survive The End

A pre-release look at Minecraft's flying nemesis

Some of the greatest ecological upsets arise when a new species is introduced to an environment in which it has no natural competition. Hence, for instance, the sad decline of the Eurasian red squirrel, cruelly displaced by the arrival of those pushy, aspirational greys from North America. With title update 9, 4J Studios plans to introduce a building-sized flying lizard composed of toughened purple-black blocks to Minecraft Xbox 360. Fortunately, the Ender Dragon does have a natural competitor: you.

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The below is another of our little previews-cum-survival-guides, worked up after careful perusal of Minecraft PC wikis. Digest its wisdom, and you should be amply prepared by the time the next Xbox 360 update rolls into town. Just to clarify: none of what follows is possible in Minecraft Xbox 360 at the time of writing.

The good news is that all the ingredients of the Ender Dragon's defeat are right there in your world already. For starters, there's the question of accessing the beast's domain. It resides in a benighted dimension known as The End - an immense, dingy void where there is no sun or moon and very little actual geography save for a floating island of grit populated by a horde of Endermen. You won't be able to sleep in The End, nor is it possible to leave till you've beaten the Dragon, so make sure you're good and tooled up before crossing the threshold.

To enter The End, you'll need to find a Stronghold in the Overworld which contains an End Portal. The latter sits over a pool of lava, and consists of 12 End Portal frame blocks arranged in a square. To activate the portal, you'll need to fill each frame block with an Eye of Ender, produced by combining a single Ender Pearl with Blaze Powder in the crafting menu. Blaze Powder can be manufactured using Blaze Rods, which are dropped by Blazes; Ender Pearls, meanwhile, are dropped by Endermen. Chances are you've built up a store of them already.

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Post update, Eyes of Ender will also come in handy when you want to find a Stronghold, as they'll travel towards the nearest End Portal frame block when thrown. There's a chance, however, that the Eye will break on landing, so either toss them sparingly or make sure you've got plenty of Eyes on your person.

Scooped up all the Eyes and found yourself a portal? Don't rush off just yet. First, equip a decent bow with either the Infinity enchantment or a stack of arrows and put on some diamond armour. Then, fill your pockets with healing potions, food and sections of ladder. Might want to parachute in a similarly kitted-out friend or two while you're at it, just in case. Right, let's go punch that Alduin wannabe upside the noodle.

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The first thing to remember when fighting the Ender Dragon is that the beast's attacks inflict severe knockback, which isn't good news when you're standing on a thin disc of earth over infinite night. One way of countering this is to dig a small hole in the ground and stand inside it - the dragon's charge will push you up out of the pit, but shouldn't propel you over the edge.

The second thing to remember is that it's capable of healing itself, via Ender Crystals which sit on towering pillars. You'll need to dismantle them before fighting the boss, either by way of a ladder or, preferably, by shooting arrows at them. The ranged approach is preferable for a couple of reasons. One, those crystals explode when destroyed. Two, the Ender Dragon will destroy any blocks it comes into contact with that don't occur naturally in The End, including your ladder.

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