How to Overhaul and Expand Minecraft with Game Changing Mods

The fundamental allure of Minecraft is the ability to build anything and make the game whatever you desire it to be. Today, we’re taking a look at mods that help you in that endeavor by adding extra dimensions, major game changes, or providing an outright overhaul to the game.

As we’ve discussed in previous lessons on Minecraft modding, the introduction of mods can greatly enhance your play experience and extend the amount of time you enjoy the game. The mods we’re showcasing here today introduce so much new content it’s like you’re getting a whole new game to play. Even better yet the Minecraft modding community is so prolific that by the time you get tired of one overhaul mod there’s another major one worth playing with.

Some of them expand the world via extra dimensions and some add in new game mechanics. Others add more realistic needs, physics, or game elements, or overhaul the game completely and offer a brand new Minecraft experience. Finally, there are some that do many of these things in one single mod.

The Minecraft modding world is vast and full of talented modders pushing the limits of the game in new and creative ways. The following mods are a very small collection of the enormous pool of mods out there. Although we’ve done our best to pick example of the different genres and game-changing mods available it would easily take a book just to cover every unique and novel mod available for the game. With that in mind, we hope you’ll look over the mods here to see the kind of creative things the mod community is up to, try some of our suggestions out, and then leap right into searching for more mods.

Meet the Mods

The default game features three dimensions, as we learned in our introductory Minecraft series: The Overworld (the world you start in that resembles our world), The Nether (a hell-like dimension filled with fire, rock, and unique mobs), and The End (a purgatory-like final level where the game’s final boss, the Ender Dragon, is found).

The following mods either add one or more dimensions to the game, or they heavily modify The Overworld is such a way that the basic gameplay is radically changed.

Twilight Forest

Available for Minecraft Version: 1.7.10

Installation Process: Copy the mod .JAR into your mods folder and run Minecraft.

Description: Twilight Forest is a beautiful mod that’s part Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, part Alice in Wonderland, and thoroughly magical.

The mod adds in the Twilight Forest dimension which is accessed by creating a pool of water 2×2 blocks in size, surrounding the edge with plants, and then throwing a diamond into the pool.

The resulting portal transports you to the Twilight realm in direct correspondence to your location on The Overworld map. The Twilight Forest dimension is infinite in size just like The Overworld and every coordinate location in The Overworld corresponds to a location in The Twilight Forest.

Not only does the mod add a beautiful and enormous new dimension to explore, but that dimension features all manner of puzzles (like the elaborate and cloud-scraping castles found deep in the Twilight Woods), new armor sets and items, new mobs, new biomes, and more than enough interesting experiences to keep you busy for a very long time.

Twilight Forest was the first extra-dimension mod we installed and it remains our favorite. The mod authors really nailed the atmosphere and did an excellent job balancing the new game elements introduced by the mod.

Galacticraft

Available for Minecraft Version: 1.7.2

Installation Process: Galacticraft requires 3 mod files, copy the Galacticraftcore*.JAR, Galacticraft-Planets*.JAR and MicdoodleCore*.JAR into your mods folder and run Minecraft.

Description: You’re going to the moon (no really, to the moon and beyond, even)! Galacticraft introduces the Space Race to Minecraft. You’ll find new ores in The Overworld, new recipes for crafting mission control and rocket parts, and you’ll use all this new technology to launch a rocket that takes you to both the Moon and Mars (with an API that allows mod makers to create additional planets and solar systems for you to explore) as well as an asteroid belt and a space station above The Overworld you can customize and expand.

To get there you have to gather a significant amount of resources, build a rocket, launch pad, and bring supplies with you into space.

Once you’re up there, it’s literally a whole new world: the gravity is lower, the resources are scarce, and you’d better hope you packed well for the trip because getting home safely can be pretty tricky.

While the trip to the moon is novel enough in itself, the extra dimensions (save for the space station) have their own mobs and bosses to conquer which offers a unique challenge in itself.

Aether II

Available for Minecraft Version: 1.6.2

Installation Process:  Download the three mod files from the official website here. Copy the mod .JAR files into your mods folder and run Minecraft.

Description: Although Aether has yet to update for the major 1.7 overhaul, we can’t hold it against them as it is the most sophisticated and largest dimensional overhaul mod for 1.6-era Minecraft. It’s such an interesting mod it’s worth running an old instance of Minecraft just to enjoy it.

The “Aether” is pretty much the antithesis of The Nether dimension and is a strange heaven-like sky kingdom with unique mobs, unique physics, large dungeons to explore (filled with new loot and puzzles), and a whole host of problems to overcome. In fact, starting in the Aether dimension is pretty much like starting the game from scratch as your tools and supplies from The Overworld are largely useless in the Aether.

To get there you build a portal of glowstone and water (an inversion of the obsidian and flint/steel you use to create a Nether portal).

Hop through and you’ll find yourself on a floating island (one of many) up in the sky. There are new flora and fauna, along with a host of flying creatures (even sheep will occasionally be found floating about). The large stone structures are the entrances to dungeons.

These dungeons are filled with riches which are in turn guarded by all manner of new mobs like the Sentry Golem seen above.

Like Twilight Forest, Aether is a fantastic mod for players who want a whole new dimension to conquer.

Ether: Wings of Silence

Available for Minecraft Version: 1.7.2 (compatible with 1.7.10).

Installation Process: Copy the mod .JAR into your mods folder and run Minecraft.

Description: Want the Aether experience on a more modern version of Minecraft? Although Ether is unrelated to the Aether mod (and actually predates it), it has been updated to 1.7 and offers a very similar kingdom-in-the-sky feel complete with floating islands and castles. Like the Aether mod you make what amounts to a Nether portal to get to the sky world.

Although it doesn’t offer as sophisticated an experience as the Aether mod, it still significantly expands the base game with a whole new dimension, mini and main bosses to fight, new blocks and items, and plenty of space to explore.

Eternal Isles

Available for Minecraft Version: 1.7.2 (compatible with 1.7.10).

Installation Process: Copy the mod .JAR into your mods folder and run Minecraft.

Description: Eternal Isles is an RPG-style mod descended from DivineRPG (an older mod created by the same mod team). It adds in a wide range of new game features including new mobs in both the regular Minecraft dimensions as well as four additional dimensions.

These dimensions are accessed via portals scattered across The Overworld (no construction necessary). In the screenshot below we see a portal to the Mysterium, found in the Mega Tiaga Forests.

Jumping through the portal reveals a strange always-night world filled with massive mushrooms, strange villages (filled with even stranger villagers), abandoned castles, and vast underground dungeons.

There are other dimensions too, like the Precasia, accessed via similar portals found in the Jungle biome. The Precasia dimension is like an adventure in Land of the Lost where you’ll find prehistoric creatures, enormous jungle trees, and more.

There’s also the Abyss dimension (accessed via portals in the Nether) and the Haven dimension (accessed via portals in the Extreme Hills biome).

While exploring these dimensions for the sake of exploring would be fun in its own right, each dimension is host to a variety of materials and characters that you need to seek out in order to create all the different weapons, armors, and other artifacts in the game as well all numerous new mobs.

Terrafirmacraft

Available for Minecraft Version: 1.6.4

Installation Process: Copy the mod .JAR into your mods folder and run Minecraft.

Description: If you’ve ever faulted Minecraft for not being realistic enough or hard enough, prepare to have your face thoroughly beat in by this mod. Terrafirmacraft is a total overhaul for Minecraft that puts you squarely back in the Stone Age. No more punching a few trees to get your first tools and then getting off to a running start. Oh no, you’ll be literally picking up rocks off the ground and knapping them just to scrape out your first primitive and cruddy tool.

On top of that you now have to contend with food that goes bad, constant thirst (better not drink that ocean water), and scraping by to try and reach the next age.

Don’t think you can just mine into the ground and enjoy willy-nilly excavation either. Just like in real life, if you dig an unsupported tunnel or large mine it will cave in on you.

The return for your effort, if you’re into that sort of thing, is an enormous sense of reward for surviving Terrafirmacraft. The mod is hard, really insanely frustratingly hard. But if you manage to survive long enough in the hostile world to build your first blast furnace, make advanced tools, and set up a farm that is significantly more advanced than anything vanilla Minecraft can offer, you’ll be quite a bit more satisfied than if you had pulled off the equivalent tricks in regular old Minecraft.

We’re going to stress it again though, just to be clear. This mod is ridiculously difficult compared to even Hardcore Mode on regular Minecraft. We warned you. Don’t be ashamed to read the official wiki just to help yourself stay alive.

Pixelmon

Available for Minecraft Version: 1.7.10

Installation Process: Copy the mod .JAR into your mods folder and run Minecraft.

Description: If you’ve ever sat back and said to yourself, “You know what this block building game needs? Pokémon!” then this is the mod for you. We’ll be the first to admit that it’s not the mod for everyone, but for Pokémon fans it’s a pretty neat mashup of themes from the Nintendo classic and Minecraft.

When you start the game, you’re prompted to select your starter Pokémon and then dumped into the wilderness just like a regular game of Minecraft. In fact Pixelmon is essentially a regular game of Minecraft but with all manner of Pokémon-related stuff layered on top.

Wander around for even a moment and you’ll bump into wild Pokémon you can run from, battle, and capture. Just like in the real game your trainer stats go up and your Pokémon grow stronger.

Where the Pixelmon mod really shines isn’t in starting a random map, however. It’s in downloading Pixelmon-centered adventure maps designed with Pokémon play in mind or hitting up a Pixlemon-centered server.

As we said, it’s not a mod for everyone but it’s a lot of fun (and a huge shot of nostalgia) for Pokémon fans.

BuildCraft

Available for Minecraft Version: 1.7.10

Installation Process: Copy the mod .JAR into your mods folder and run Minecraft.

Description: If you’re leaning back and saying “More magical stuff? More mobs? Pokémon?! What about more building stuff?” then the mod you’re looking for is BuildCraft. Among mods that add in extra construction and game engine effects to Minecraft, BuildCraft is king.

With BuildCraft you can build engines and gears, pipes to transport supplies and liquids, pumps, auto workbenches, storage tanks, quarry machines, and more. There’s even as sophisticated set of tools for creating custom wiring, logic gates, and other electronic constructions.

In the above screenshot we’ve constructed a very simple mining device. The two computer looking boxes are mining wells, which are hooked up to engines (controlled by switches) and are also hooked up to pipes that go to a chest. These wells will, when the engine is fueled and the switch turned on, drill a mining tunnel straight down to the bedrock “pumping” all the stone and ore found along the way into the chest. This rudimentary example just scratches the surface of all the crazy things you can do with BuildCraft.

BuildCraft is a must-have mod for any player who isn’t necessarily aching for more swords and some dragons running around, but wants an engineer’s toolbox to build the next best thing. If you’re more interested in building an industrial park with a functional refinery than a castle in the sky, give BuildCraft a try.


We could spend weeks just showcasing mods for you; there’s just so many awesome and unique ones! We don’t have weeks for mod showcases however, so it’s time for us to move on and encourage you to do your own exploration.

Fortunately, YouTube is bursting at the seams with Minecraft videos of all stripes, including copious “mod showcase” videos. Hit up YouTube along with the mod download sites we shared with you in earlier modding tutorial, and you’ll never want for a good mod again.

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.