Minecraft modding these days is so easy. You just install your mod manager and mod extender of choice (e.g. Forge) then drop your mods inside the Mods folder. It’s honestly just as easy as installing old versions of Minecraft. Gone are the days where you had to delete the META-INF folder and mess around with other things. Between this and the fact that I kinda actually do like Pokemon these days, I couldn’t help but say yes when my sister invited me to play Pixelmon with her.
Pixelmon is basically a Minecraft version of Pokemon, spanning generations 1 through 6. Just like the actual games, you load your game up, pick a starter Pokemon then head off into the wilderness to be mauled to death by angry, ferocious animals.
Okay that last thing doesn’t happen in real Pokemon, but it totally will if you play Pixelmon without setting the difficulty to Peaceful. Because if you happen to spawn next to, for example, a level 20 Growlithe or a level 17 Ekans or whatever, you’re going to have a bad time. That Growlithe or Ekans or whatever will destroy your starter Pokemon with a forced battle.
There aren’t any cows or pigs or other NPCs to sustain you either, everything is replaced by Pokemon. Villagers are replaced with people who want to battle you and all other NPCs are gone. It’s often just you and a plain filled with Rattatas and Skittys.
Actually, Pixelmon is probably an even harsher start than real Pokemon is. There’s no Professor Oak or anyone like that to give you any help. It’s just you and your starter. Your only real solace is if you start near a village, where you can at least use a healer and PC, as Pixelmon alters villages to have gyms and Pokecenters. In newer versions of Minecraft though, villages are a LOT more common and they’ll probably only become more common as new features are added to them.
First off, I’m sure that this would be a lot easier if I actually knew more about Pokemon. Sure, I know how battles work, but I am clueless on the little things, like WHAT THE FUCK DO ALL THOSE BERRIES DO. Seriously, there are so many berries you can find in the wilderness. Thankfully, the mod actually comes with a help system. You can hold an item and press a hotkey (K by default, I believe) and that will open up a wiki page in your browser. Which is great unless you’re playing without an internet connection, which I originally was…
So back to playing solo. On Peaceful Mode, you get no forced encounters and can choose to fight whenever you want. Which is for the best because there’s no leveling in Pixelmon, you can have any level of Pokemon spawn nearby. Even if you don’t fight anything, the early game is a real slog though if you don’t find a village or anything. You can only craft Pokeballs one at a time, slowly hammering at bits of metal on special anvils and smelting both apricorn berries and stone to make the top of a Pokeball and the button, then hammering the bases and sticking them together in a normal crafting station. Crafting everything is difficult and expensive – for example, a healer requires aluminum sheets, iron ingots and a diamond, and you have to hammer the aluminum into sheets on the anvil, which costs a bunch of iron ingots as well.
Pokemon spawn by Biome and time of day, but they have very basic navigation. Wandering through roofed forests is kinda scary not because of the Pokemon that spawn there, but because you’ll constantly hear flying Pokemon suffocating themselves as they try to fly around and get stuck. Making a Pokemon faint gives you the option to take some loot, which can be anything from Pokemon-specific items to random Minecraft loot like Glowstone dust, feathers, sulfur or just random sticks and feathers.
Battling with Pokemon isn’t too bad actually. It’s basically the same as the games, with the same menus, attacks and all that. The harder thing is initiating battle, as you need to throw one of your party at the Pokemon in question. That’s fine for a Rattata or a Ponyta, but good luck managing to throw a Pokeball at a flying Fearow or something. It’s also possible to somewhat drown yourself or get stuck in a wall as the game moves your avatar while it initiates battle. Random trainers in the wild are a little bit easier to fight with.
As for rare Pokemon? I have no idea. As far as I’m aware, they just have infinitely small chances to spawn in various biomes.
But before you can really do any of that, you need to get yourself started or at least make some Pokeballs. That means you have to do a lot of Minecrafting before you can even attempt the Pokemon-ing. In the process, you’ll probably end up filling chests with huge numbers of berries that seem to litter the landscape.
Luckily though, dedicated multiplayer servers seem to solve a lot of the problems single-player Pixelmon has. Even if you can’t build your own healer or if you have no Pokeballs, many servers will give away free Pokeballs and have PCs and healers at spawn, not to mention various shops where you can buy or trade for items. Many multiplayer servers also have /sethome and /randomteleport commands, allowing you to explore wide areas. The server I visited with my sister gives everyone a free Pigeot, meaning you can climb on its back and fly around as well.
This means that you can give yourself a head start and actually maybe do some Pokemon catching.
On top of that, playing with other players kinda gives you some challenge. Once you have a good party, you can basically steamroll every single encounter unless you get super unlucky.
So yeah, Pixelmon is fun, but it’s much more grind-y than normal Pokemon and is best played with other people. Otherwise you’ll spend eternity hammering things on an anvil.