Crash Landing is a Minecraft modpack where you play the sole survivor of a shuttle accident, stranded on a dry, dusty planet with just a small amount of water and food and no real supplies. We sent Duncan Geere to cope with its blazing heat, barren landscape and hostile denizens.
I don't go to the city any more. As my shuttle careened through the atmosphere of this godforsaken planet, I spotted some ruins and enjoyed a flicker of hope that there might be something left of the civilisation that built it.
There is something left, but it's terrifying.
Let's back up for a moment. Crash Landing is nothing like the Minecraft you know. It's a collection of mods that add a million new worries to the vanilla survival experience, and pushes the solutions to those troubles far up a lengthy tech tree on a specially-designed map. For example, one of the first things you'll notice are that the blazing daytime sun gives you heatstroke and dehydration. Unlike normal Minecraft, water doesn't infinitely replicate - meaning you'll need to find alternative solutions to keeping you cool and hydrated.
Night-time offers a respite from the heat, but fills the world up with monsters far worse than the normal game. Spiders annoying you? Try flying, poisonous, invisible spiders. Or bow-equipped zombies riding on top of ghasts. Or endermen that steal your weapon and teleport off into the night. Or cluster-creepers that explode in a shower of tiny mini-creepers.
My first days in Crash Landing were spent trying to put out a million tiny fires, metaphorically and - thanks to a fuel leak from one of the broken engines - literally. While shearing leaves off trees in a desperate attempt to extract their water, I'd start getting hungry and need to run back to the shuttle to munch some zombie flesh, salted to take the grim taste away. Then another problem emerges - a mod called Spice of Life means that you can only eat a particular food five times before you start getting diminishing returns from it. One food source becomes useless fast, and by the time I craft something different to eat, I'm out of water again.
The climb out of Maslow's gutter is slow, but tremendously satisfying - as you lift your burdens one at a time. My earliest nights were spent with the door firmly boarded up, sifting dust to gather the minerals inside. Redstone, iron and other metals accumulated slowly in my chests as I listened to the howls and moans coming from outside. The sand piled up in front of my windscreen meant that I only knew it was daytime when the moans turned to screams as the sunlight roasted the flesh of what was waiting outside.
Eventually, I scraped together enough resources to make a cobblestone generator. That was my first milestone - I was able to erect a wall around the crash site that gave me a bit more space to work in. The interior of the shuttle, even when you remove some of the obstructions, is still pretty cramped - and the machinery inside is hot. A semi-automated water system followed soon after, as well as a small farm. I was slowly starting to become self-sufficient.
That's when I had my first encounter with the city. There are certain things you can't craft with what's around your camp. To get a smeltery up and running, I needed some seared bricks - and the quest system that guides you through the mod suggested they might be found in the ruined city that lies about 500 blocks south of the crash site. I stockpiled some water and some food, and at daybreak I headed south along the ruins of a road.
What I found was far worse than any of the horrors of the nights I'd experienced so far. The office buildings, with desks and bookcases, looked derelict as I approached, but turned out to be full of monster spawners concealed from sight by hard-to-destroy industrial blocks. From them, blazes, creepers, and - worst of all - giant zombie pigmen poured forth to punish me for my intrusion. I barely got out with my life.
This is probably a good time to mention that Crash Landing is a hardcore mod. One death means game over - your world is deleted. Thankfully there's a mod called Sync in the pack that offers a get-out-of-death-free card. You can create clones of yourself and swap your mind between them - if one dies, you simply shift to another. The quest system offers two options here - an easy route, where you get the ability to clone yourself at the start of the game, and a hard one where you have to build it yourself. The resources necessary mean that I'd highly recommend picking the easy option. But even that's not all that easy - creating a new clone requires power and time, and neither are easy to come by at the start of the game. If you die twice in quick succession, it's over.
I learnt fast that the best way to approach the city is a blitzkrieg. Get in, get what you want, and get out. I found that wearing armour will dramatically increase how hot you get - and therefore your water consumption - so I went in naked, sprinting through the streets to an industrial building near its centre, and found what I was looking for - a partly-intact smeltery. I harvested the blocks I needed, but when I turned round to exit, I saw a crowd of zombie pigmen close to the door. I pillared up to the roof, but one had a bow and knocked me from my perch before I could break through to the roof. My unarmoured body was dead before I even hit the ground.
Waking up in my clone in the base, I was faced with a dilemma - rush back with a sync clone incomplete and grab my things before they despawn, or wait for the new clone to be created and risk losing everything I'd collected. It was getting dark, so I opted for the safe route. In the morning, another backup clone was complete and I retraced my steps. I reached the smeltery, and saw to my delight that my possessions had been locked inside a gravestone rather than scattered on the ground. I broke it, got my things, and fled.
Over the following days I built up my base, including a high tower that I can climb to get a vantage point for the nearby area. Crash Landing also includes hang gliders, so my lookout tower doubles as a nifty point to glide to the city from. I revisited it a few times, tempted by the chests full of loot, but every time it was a struggle to make it out with my things without dying more than twice in the process. The ends never quite justified the means.
I now have an extensive base, with a huge farm producing food, a byzantine resource-gathering setup that pulverises cobblestone into gravel and sand before sifting metals out of it, a 'hot zone' with a smeltery and power plant, and even a machine that automatically replaces my empty water pack with a full one when I walk next to it. Most of it is made possible with perhaps the most complex mod included in the pack - Steve's Factory Manager - which is enormously powerful but has to be fully programmed before it'll do anything. I've got ample food stocks, all the water I need, top-tier armour, and an array of lethal weaponry.
But still I don't go to the city any more. I think I'll await rescue where I am, thanks.
If you want to try eking out an existence on the same dry, dusty planet, you'll need the Feed The Beast Launcher - then you'll find Crash Landing under the 'third party packs' section. Good luck.