Minecraft is a game of infinite customisation, where players attempt to push boundaries on what can and cannot be done in a video game. The game has been used to recreate the entire country of Denmark, as an educational tool to introduce children to programming, and even has applications in secondary school science classrooms. For a game that is over a decade old, it has a thriving community of both players and modders helping to keep it alive. Among them are those who are most fascinated by the dramatic changes that can be achieved by meddling with its difficulty.
Minecraft comes with four difficulties by default: Peaceful, which allows only neutral mobs to spawn, and is by far the easiest mode; Easy, which enables hostile mobs but lessens the damage dealt, and makes the hostile environment easier to deal with; Normal, in which mobs deal the standard amount of damage; and Hard, which increases the damage dealt and now hunger can kill. There is also a mode exclusive to the Java edition of Minecraft, Hardcore, which takes Hard difficulty but reduces the player to a single life, and doesn’t allow the difficulty to be lowered.
For some players, all of these are just too easy. For others, they’re not easy enough. For more still, they don’t bring enough weird. Here are seven custom difficulty modes that players have incorporated into Minecraft, ranging from the tame to the impressively difficult, that might help sate some players’ desires for difficulty.
While some other mods and server plugins on this list make Minecraft easier (or even too easy to be easily playable), let’s start with one that is sure to increase player frustration levels to new heights.
Impossible++, a difficulty plugin by YouTuber and modder Fundy, was developed after fellow streamer WadZee managed to beat Fundy’s previous “Impossible” difficulty on his first attempt without dying. “So I had to step up my game and I decided to make a difficulty that is so difficult that it makes Minecraft actually impossible,” Fundy told his 4.2 million viewers.
In his old server plugin, Fundy had reduced the time a player could be in lava to two seconds, followed by instant death. Meanwhile, contact with ice or “anything cold,” er, launches players far into the sky, causing them to die by fall damage. You know, bouncy ice.
With the new mod plugin, Fundy decided that was all far too easy, and builds upon these features, increasing the ways the game is just unnecessarily hard. For starters, punching trees actually hurts — the lack of this in normal Minecraft has always felt weird to me.
It should be obvious, but Minecraft isn’t reality. Fundy apparently took this as a challenge, though, when he multiplied the number of bees in a beehive from the unrealistically low number of three to an actual approximation of 40,000. Breaking a beehive is a seriously bad idea, and not just for your framerate.
In normal Minecraft, sleeping in a bed is a way to skip the night, when the world becomes exceedingly hostile. Fundy decided that this should also be more realistic. Sleeping advances the game by a random increment between ten and twelve hours, irrespective of when the player sleeps; this could be of benefit but also a drawback to the player if not timed carefully. If this is timed poorly, the player will be forced to stay awake through the following night as they aren’t tired. Players now also lose all of their hunger bars and immediately start dying after they wake up.
There’s also a random chance of tripping on twigs and cutting yourself when dealing damage. This server plugin takes the ridiculousness of something like the mod “Outrageous Everything” (full disclosure: I made this mod in high school!) to a whole new level while also bringing forth its love of cacti, player torment, and cutting yourself “whenever you deal damage.”
You can get this plugin here.
Here’s a version right at the other end of the difficulty scale. Baby mode upends the normal Minecraft playthrough, replacing the standard challenges of survival and monster attacks with modifications that make the game so ridiculously easy that a baby could almost play it. And yet, in doing so, introduces a surprising amount of complexity.
The most popular version of this mode was created by popular Minecraft YouTuber Fundy in 2020, as a response to his audience’s reaction to his previously created “Impossible” mode. “It basically removes all of the danger from the game, but not in the ways that you might expect,” he told viewers.
For example of quite how easy this gets, just looking at trees causes them to break! Tools players craft come pre-enchanted with every bonus you could want, to be most efficient and durable. In addition, all hostile mobs vanish when they get close to the player, rather than attack. “As long as it’s angry at you, it will disappear,” says Fundy. In the case of Endermen, their mob drop has been set so that it is no longer random, so when it kindly ends itself for you, it always gives two of those vital ender pearls.
Another popular YouTuber, Graser, was inspired by Fundy’s mod and created their own Baby Mode, although sadly one that’s not yet available. Alongside adding high-powered armour, and removing fall damage, it also adds infant-themed items, including a mined substance called Diaperium, and baby bottles spawn meteors.
Despite the benefits, these modes aren’t without their challenges, Graser tells me. “Sometimes easy is difficult,” the modder explains. “Especially in Minecraft, when things are made too easy you are forced to use your imagination and newfound ‘baby mode’ tools in order to build and navigate your world.”
You can get this server plugin here.
This difficulty, which was created by the very popular Fundy in 2020, changes Minecraft from being a primarily skills-based game with some randomness thrown in, into a game of pure chance. Will punching a tree cause a horde of bees to attack you, or give you gold? That, well, depends on how lucky you get. “Did you like it when games are purely based on luck and no skill whatsoever? No? Well, too bad. I did it anyway,” he told viewers.
“Once the difficulty trend started lifting off I knew I had to keep up the series,” Fundy told Kotaku. Fearing that things would get “stale,” he “decided to take a twist upon it inspired by role-playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons, where a lot relies on dice rolls. Then it became a task of what is the best outcome of a dice roll, and what is the worst?“
His plugin simulates a 20-sided dice; the higher the number it rolls on your screen, the better (read: for you or your health) the outcome. Score a low number, such as a one or zero? Look out.
Players might be seriously surprised when the innocent stone block they are mining turns into lava, or the surrounding blocks into ignited TNT ready to obliterate them. On the other hand, this can work to your advantage, turning all the blocks around you to sought after ores, like diamond.
When I loaded into a world running this and attempted to chop down a tree I, too, was swarmed by a raging horde of wasps, hornets, and bees – at least 20 of them. When I finally managed to run away (ok, I died) and get wood and craft a wood pickaxe? I rolled a three and received a pickaxe on the brink of breaking. When I decided to punch a tree a second time (you know, for science), I received two gold ingots and 12 gold nuggets–not terrible, but definitely random.
As Fundy told me, and I independently verified, with the exception of trees, not every time that you try to break a block causes the dice to roll; that, too, is a random probability.
I found this a refreshing pace compared to Impossible++.
You can get this server plugin here.
The next three money-based modes see players starting off in a strange new world with the goal of completing quests and earning the amount of money named in the title. In the case of Minecraft Millionaire, the mod’s lore states that the player is an explorer from a home world suffering from “dwindling resources,” so extracting them from the new world and sending them home for a profit.
Minecraft Millionaire, which includes 90 different mods, has been around since 2017. This year, however, the concept of the millionaire difficulty has really taken off. This modpack was developed by Vnator, using a combination of mods they created and other creations borrowed from fellow modders. All told, their personal creations have been downloaded more than 345,000 times.
Opening the quest book that players spawn in with, they are presented with the mod’s lore. You take on the role of an interdimensional employee of “Noodle Corp” with the duty to “learn what you can” about your world and its “weird physics and magic”. This modpack adds 282 quests to Minecraft.
Using your quest book is also how you interact with the in-game shop — an essential part of your quest to become a millionaire. When you find 16 diamonds, you can sell them in the Tech Shop for a total of $US3,200 ($4,442). While you start off selling the normal Minecraft items, venturing beyond them the amount of money to be had is astronomical. One drum of jet fuel nets players $US150,000 ($208,230). Players can also sell food, and other items the mod designates as magic, in the Magic Shop
Loading into the modded world, it is immediately clear that it has at least two helpful features to make your game just that much easier: at the top of your screen, you have a new element on the HUD that tells you the type of block you’re looking at, and whether you need any tools to break it. When you look at a mob, such as a zombie, it details what they are and their current health. The one downside of the placement of this bar is that it can be distracting in the top centre of your screen. On the right, you have a top-down world map that displays your current chunk and any mobs (hostile or otherwise) within it.
One of the small but extremely useful features that this pack includes is the rope ladder. Normally it would take a large number of sticks to scale a sizable drop, but this addition means that it only takes an eighth the number of sticks, provided you have some string on you. Considering that one rope ladder will reach down eight blocks and that they craft in groups of eight, you could scale down 64 blocks with just three sticks and six string!
You can get this modpack here.
The Minecraft Billionaire difficulty is another creation by Vnator. This modpack contains 128 mods and has been around since 2018. It sees you on another mission for “Noodle Corp,” this time on a quest to “reacquire the items that originally brought society past resource scarcity,” as Noodle Corp somehow managed to lose them.
This modpack adds 408 quests to Minecraft, completely dwarfing Minecraft Millionaire’s 282. Continuing the series’ love of spaghetti, starting the game completes the first quest and rewards the player with spaghetti and meatballs and 50 “foney” — this modpack’s in-game currency.
Unlike with Millionaire, accessing the shop in Billionaire was puzzling and not self-explanatory. To save you the trouble, it is accessed by pressing the apostrophe key (‘) and clicking on Quests. Once you’re in, the shop is easy to navigate. It is clear that the big focus here is on the tech and magic shops. The item that fetches the highest price in these shops is the “UU-Matter Bucket,” which the mod refers to as “miracle matter,” coming in at a whopping $US1,000,000 ($1,388,200). At that price, though, it would certainly take a while to reach a billion dollars.
The secret sauce with all of the modpacks in this series, though, is automation. Once you progress far enough in the quests, you will unlock the ability to automate your buying and selling of resources, thereby freeing up your time to work on other things in your quest to become a billionaire.
It is also worth noting that Minecraft Billionaire has a HUD improvement over its predecessor. With Billionaire, the HUD element has been moved to the top-left, shrunk, and includes more useful information. Instead of just showing the health and type of the mob you are looking at, it now also shows how much armour it is wearing as well.
You can get this modpack here.
The third, and final, instalment in the money-based modpacks is Minecraft Trillionaire. This modpack, consisting of 158 individual mods, adds thousands of new items to Minecraft and includes a series of quests players can take with the end goal of becoming a trillionaire. Like the other two, players buy and sell items at various shops in an effort to increase profits. The pack includes the Forestry mod, which allows for automated tree farming — great for automating your income — and NuclearCraft, which allows for fusion reactors and gives energy that you can sell.
In Trillionaire, you take on the role of a “pasta inc” employee. According to mod-added lore, pasta inc. is the “premier inter-dimensional resource acquisition and colonisation organisation.”
This modpack is built heavily around quests. The first quest you need to complete — checking a checkbox to make sure you read the lore and “aren’t a melting puddle on the ground” — gives you spaghetti, an energy drink, and mango yogurt. The mod then explains that by default it is set to expert difficulty, which provides more challenging item recipes to players, and shows players how to lower the difficulty to normal.
Unlike with the previous versions, the shop isn’t a menu in a book. After you progress through the first few quests, you are shown how to build a shop block and place it in the world. Items in this version sell for even less than they do in Minecraft Billionaire, showing that this modpack leans even more heavily into automation. Auto-buyers and sellers are the final two quests in the first quest line. The auto-seller, as the name suggests, automatically sells anything put in it. One can imagine how at scale — paired with other resource extraction automations — this could prove quite lucrative.
This pack includes a tool called the “Ore Excavator”, which works by pressing and holding the tilde key while you break a block, but takes at least two of your hunger bars in exchange by default. The excavator causes all the surrounding (non-stone) blocks within a massive radius to break. This even works in creative mode, and is quite useful for clearing land and collecting resources far more efficiently. The penalty for using the excavator, the blocks it can’t break, and its radius can be modified in mod settings.
Unlike some of the other entries in this list that are (sometimes severely) frustrating, this pack appears mostly free of such issues, and seems like it could give many hours of fun. If this pack and Minecraft Billionaire didn’t win me over with the HUD improvements, they certainly did with the (configurable) bulk ore excavation.
You can get this modpack here.
Returning to modes that make things far, far harder, our old friend Fundy was so confident with this next challenge that he pledged to give the person who beat it the fastest before October 31, 2021, $US2,000 ($2,776).
In this difficulty, breaking any block with “log” in its name results in silverfish exploding out of the block towards you, and is followed, typically, by your rapid death. It isn’t over when you finally do manage to cut down that tree, either. Every tree leaf that decays spawns a slime and “every slime is incredibly explosive,” Fundy told viewers. He demonstrated by shooting a slime with an arrow, which resulted in a large crater.
The player also must keep a cat named Boots — named after Fundy’s real-life feline — alive and in relatively close proximity, or the player will die. This means that Boots must accompany you to the Ender Dragon.
Days — by far the safest time in Minecraft — also only last for about ten or fifteen seconds. Nights, on the other hand, last for around ten minutes and cause all mobs, aside from skeletons, to turn into Axolotls hellbent on killing you. Skeletons, Fundy demonstrates, spawn normally because they fire arrows at machine gun speeds. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Creepers even ride Axolotls now! You aren’t safe anywhere. This plugin really takes Impossible++ and puts it on unfathomable quantities of steroids.
“I’ve learned something from the previous difficulties. I’ve learned that I always go too easy on you guys and I should stop doing that”, Fundy explains. “If you stand still for [more than] five seconds at any point anywhere…” he starts before being interrupted by a massive explosion that kills his character. In a similar explosive theme, you won’t be making any cakes any time soon: sugarcane blows up when hit.
If you somehow make it to the Nether, every step will set you on fire. If you stand still, you won’t be set on fire, but you’ll still explode. “The only way for you to survive the Nether is if you have leather boots,” explains the mod’s creator, but the catch is that they degrade the longer you wear them.
Finding the End isn’t easy either. The eye of ender recipe is also modified to require an ink sack and Lapis Lazuli. The End has been heavily modified. “Those were just warm-ups. This is where it gets fun,” Fundy tells viewers. End crystals have been encased in glass, which cannot be shot through in Minecraft, meanwhile water kills you, and the Ender Dragon — already a fearsome challenge without modification — has been changed to throw TNT, to which he is immune, when he perches. Should the Ender Dragon take damage, it throws deadly magic at you in revenge. Should you place a bed and attempt to sleep in it while in the End? It spawns yet another Ender Dragon that you must defeat; there is no limit on the number that can spawn.
If, despite all this, you somehow manage to defeat the Ender Dragon(s), he has one more attack up his scaly sleeve: Raining lots of magic and TNT down on you. “I genuinely don’t know how you’re going to do this. I have no idea if this is even possible. I didn’t try it; I’m not going to try this,” Fundy told viewers. In the video description, he stated that he didn’t reveal all of this difficulty’s tricks, either.
Yet, despite the odds, Minecraft players tend to find a way. Fundy was able to confirm to me that the challenge was beaten, and that a “few” players reached out to him with proof of their runs. However, there is some ambiguity surrounding who actually won the challenge as he doesn’t remember definitively. In speaking with Fundy, he stated that “chances are” it was YouTube creator y a t s u, who beat it in approximately one hour, 49 minutes, and 29 seconds. However, y a t s u stated that draconix was the fastest and “House Builder Gang” claimed on Twitter to have won and received the funds.
Y a t s u realised two key things in the rules that helped them to succeed: you are allowed to do this in multiplayer, and you can pick your own seed, provided that it doesn’t have the End portal pre-filled. After many failed attempts, y a t s u came across what they considered to be the perfect seed. Strategic deaths were used to regenerate health and, once they realised that there is a cap on the maximum number of mobs that could spawn in a chunk, they exploited this to run mostly unopposed; y a t s u did this by digging a hole two blocks deep, placing a log, and then breaking it so that the silverfish would be trapped there and consume the allowable mob limit.
Do you think you have what it takes? While the contest period is over, the plugin is still available. I spawned in and my attempt was immediately ended by an arrow machine gun-firing skeleton. On my second attempt, I was able to survive for about ten seconds.
You can get this plugin here.
Minecraft’s community is thriving and there is no denying that its love of entertaining masochistic challenges is strong. A strong community–including mod developers–surrounding games is an important factor to their continued longevity. I am excited to see what creators of all stripes continue to create for Minecraft in the years to come.
Kyle Wilson is a freelance games journalist. You can find his Twitter here.