Today, Minecraft Xbox 360 received its first proper update for quite some time, an avalanche of new props, features and tweaks we know by the earthly name of "title update 14". If you haven't got hold of it yet, the download should be there next time you sign in. What to sample first? Here are some suggestions.
1. Charge of the Pork Brigade
Hitherto, the garden-variety Minecraft porker has resisted any attempt at guidance or direction - all we've been able to do is cling on for life, shrieking in a kind of religious ecstasy, while the creature bounces around like a dodgem car. Rejoice, cavaliers of bacon, for the mighty animal husbanders of 4J Studios have finally concocted the solution to our troubles, a sinister apparatus of arcane origin - the Carrot on a Stick.
By means of this instrument, you can command your pig at will, even "boosting" it to travel at a skin-tearing eight metres a second for up to 40 seconds, but beware - the pig will eventually eat the all-important Carrot part of your Carrot on a Stick, leaving you with naught but a homely fishing rod, and pigs have no respect for the wielders of homely fishing rods. The Carrot on a Stick can also be waved at other pigs to make them follow you, allowing you to re-enact that bit from Apocalypse Now with the helicopters, only with pigs instead of helicopters.
2. Go Tomb Raiding
If you're all about keeping up with the Indiana Joneses (and Lara Crofts), start a new world and algorithmically generate yourself some Jungles and Deserts (these may show up in existing worlds, too, providing you haven't already uncovered all the terrain). Jungles and Deserts now occasionally give rise to Temples, in which you'll find chests full of emeralds, diamonds, ingots, enchanted books and the like - a decent haul, particularly when tackling a world in Adventure World.
The Jungle kind consist of three floors, one of which contains a lever puzzle that opens the way to a treasure chamber, guarded by tripwire traps (see below). The Desert Temples are home to a single block of blue wool, below which lies a room filled with loot. Oh, and a pressure plate linked to a fat greasy slab of TNT. Good luck with all that. Sometimes, Desert Temples appear buried in sand, which lends a nicely mysterious feel to the proceedings.
3. Once More Unto Tutorial World
As with every major Minecraft Xbox 360 update, 4J Studios has rebuilt Tutorial World to explain all the new features, moving all the Music Discs around in the process. It's as though somebody's hacked your phone and changed your ringtone. The outrage! Get in there and dig them out again, quick.
4. Sell Stuff To Villagers
They're not innocent any more, those stinking, wretched peasants. They have dined upon the perfumed meat of capitalism, and they like the taste. It's now possible to trade items with Villagers - exactly which item is partly a question of chance, and partly determined by the Villager's profession, so don't go hassling those Butchers for a set of chainmail armour, unless you secretly want to stride into battle armed with lumps of raw chicken.
It's possible to acquire some fairly rare items this way, such as gold ingots and enchanted diamond weaponry (this could be a godsend, again, when tackling a map in Adventure Mode). There's no formal currency in Minecraft, but Villagers will usually ask for emeralds and some item relevant to their vocation. If you spot one surrounded by purple and green sparks, he or she has a new offer to make.
5. Create A Web of Destruction
New with this update are Tripwire Hooks, which are the means for assembling some devilish traps. Position two of these opposite one another, then drop a length of string between them to create a tripwire, which emits a Redstone pulse when another player or mob touches it. Where that Redstone pulse ends up is your call. If you fancy yourself a bit of a Dungeon Keeper, you could link it to an inconveniently angled Dispenser filled with arrows. Or, you could attach it to a hidden door, releasing a small horde of Creepers into the chamber.