Minecraft is more accessible now than it’s ever been, with Microsoft offering players some great options when it comes to ways to hop into the famous sandbox game.
Whether you’re coming back to Minecraft after a break or coming in for the first time, Minecraft’s two versions might be a little confusing. At its core, Minecraft has two versions in 2021: the original Java edition and Microsoft’s excellent Windows Store port called Minecraft: Bedrock Edition. Choosing between the two isn’t hard, but this year it’s even more important for one big reason. Starting in December 2020, Microsoft now requires a linked Microsoft account to download either version, and unless players purchased the Java Edition before October 19, 2018, there’s no buy-one-get-one deals for Minecraft like there used to be.
So while choosing between the two Minecraft versions isn’t too difficult, everyone should know what the differences are before heading in. Here’s our list of differences between Minecraft’s Java version and the Bedrock Edition to give returning players and new buyers and idea of where they should start.
The biggest difference between Minecraft Java and the Bedrock Edition is how much players need to know about computers to get the most out of each. Minecraft Java runs on another program installed on a user’s computer. It’s not difficult to do, but things like modding and adding texture packs might be difficult for someone who isn’t familiar with tooling around on computers.
The Bedrock Edition on the other hand is quick to start, install, and play, but may lack some more advanced customization options available to the Java edition. That said, Microsoft’s plan to bring desktop apps to the Microsoft Store means that the Bedrock Edition is now supported just as well as its older brother.
Minecraft receives almost monthly updates that add new blocks, biomes, and activities to its world, and having two active versions can mean there’s a chance that one isn’t as updated as quickly as the other. That’s not a problem in Minecraft.
Although the Bedrock Edition initially lagged behind the Java version years ago, both editions are now on the same release schedule. That means that choosing one over the other won’t mean that players will have to wait for content releases. Currently, Minecraft players are waiting for the game’s next big expansion called “Caves & Cliffs,” which is scheduled for summer 2021.
Short answer: If you’re familiar with computers or are willing to learn, go with Java, A big upside is that mods on Java are almost universally free and helpful YouTube guides are plentiful. TeeBlitz’s excellent beginners tutorial below is an excellent place to start. Bedrock has no shortage of mods, but most cost actual money through the Windows Store.
The long answer is a little more complicated. Modding is where the Minecraft versions start to separate from one another thanks to the Java version’s age. The original Minecraft went live in 2009, and that means that programmers, modders, and fans have had a very long time to mod the game. In other words, there are more mods available overall than there are for Bedrock.
But since Bedrock’s available mods are approved by Microsoft before they can be sold on the Windows Store, players will find a more consistent level of quality than if they picked through CurseForge to mod Java. In the end, modding Minecraft is a tradeoff between Java’s options and Bedrock’s easier system.
Here’s one area that the Bedrock edition has a huge lead on Minecraft Java. Microsoft has tried to position itself as an industry leader in virtual reality, and that means everything needed to literally step inside a player’s Minecraft world is built in. Starting Bedrock in VR is almost as simple as turning on your gear.
As usual, Java is a little more complicated than that. Running Minecraft Java is completely doable, but it does require some extra downloads and a little bit of tweaking to get it right. But Java users will be pleased to know that Vivecraft, the program that makes Java’s MC VR possible, is run through Valve’s SteamVR. So while there are extra steps involved, it might be worth it for SteamVR’s options and overlays.
While there are some big differences between Minecraft’s two versions, both offer players almost the same playing experience. At the end of the day, users can feel comfortable knowing that whichever version of Minecraft they choose, they really can’t go wrong.