This past Saturday we watched this year's Minecon Live event on stream together and boy oh boy does it have me excited about the game again!!
Not only is the fundamental part of the game (mines) getting a big dollop of love but they're also seasoning different mechanics with quality of life changes.
I've had a few people asking what I thought to the show and information revealed, so let's go through it chronologically.
Props to the team for listening to feedback from viewers last year and not making us sit through upwards of an hour of content before getting to the information we're all really there for (the content is always super wholesome and to me personally really interesting but we know the internet has a short attention span). This approach of big reveal followed by juicy details as the show progressed was so much more rewarding and I imagine great for their retention.
So first up were the Lush Caves. I know we're supposed to be blown away by the concept of a new biome but this narrow cave isn't unlike things we've seen in adventure maps, mini game servers or mod packs from the past decade. The wow factor is hard to achieve when this caves update is so painfully overdue you know?
Don't get me wrong, it all looks lovely. I have no criticisms of the vegetation included or their mechanics like the Glowberries and the textures sit nicely in the Minecraft aesthetic BUT the demonstration piece was too cramped..
When it cut back to Agnes she began talking about the sense of scale and sourced John Bauer's artwork as a source of inspiration:
"We want it to be like, so.. You feel like very tiny inside like a big garden or big forest"
Comparatively, the first glimpse we were given of this new cave biome was nowhere near as massive. It was about 8 blocks tall, tops? They really could have wowed us by showing a huge cave generation with this lush green interior, but they didn't.
What's frustrating about this is that they later confirmed these new supermassive caves can come in a Lush varient, SO WHY NOT SHOW THAT?!
I wouldn't have minded a static screenshot of a huge one and then shifting over to the tiny one to get a closer more detailed look at the textures whilst explaining all the mechanics.
(my guess is the large lush aren't in a ready state yet but hey ho)
DRIP LEAF PLANTS
These seem like great fun and as they mentioned, they'll be an awesome tool for Parkour level designers. I'm hoping we see them implemented in a few different biomes, namely the swamps. Having these interspersed among lily pads could make for a more varied platform across the water surfaces.
I'm looking forward to seeing whether the reaction time of them can be accelerated by command blocks so you really can't linger on them for too long so you gotta go fast!
I don't know if it's been confirmed anywhere but is it safe to assume that the stems of the dripleaf plants are blocks we can pass through? That's an educated guess given that you're supposed to be able to fall from the leaf at the top.
NEW CAVE GENERATIONS
These new generations look fantastic! Better than I'd have ever hoped for honestly, I mean, did you see that Elytra gliding and threading the needle through enveloped sized gaps?!
It was reassuring to hear traditional cave generations will be sticking around and I hope this extends to the ravines too. I know ravines aren't the most majestic or varied in shapes but they're home. A staple of the underground in my opinion. Maybe we'll get some new ravine types in the future too?
One really interesting formation are the completely flooded caving systems that run on something Agnes called 'local water levels' and this raised one question in particular for us..
Will they be adding in a new water exploring method / precaution for players?
Potions can be quite a ways off for most players starting up their word as it's dependant on acquiring blaze rods to make the Brewing Stand and let's be honest, using wooden doors to create pockets of air is a means to an end. It's silly but it gets the job done.
There are two ways to approach this. We can either whisk the player through these water sections faster and they've just got to hold their breath OR we can make the exploration more sustainable.
Let's start with the former, Netty came up with the idea that the glow squids (and regular ones to be fair) could potentially be ridden with the use of a lead and allow a swift travel through underwater areas. I think this could be really fun! Imagine your character holding on for dear life, superhero pose, one arm outstretched to keep a grip 😂
Another suggestion that sprung up in the stream chat was from GooTheSplat and that stemmed from something in the mob voting animatics.. Vu Bui's submarine.
We all agreed this one was a bit of a stretch given that vehicles (or than Minecarts) have never been a part of the vanilla game and I'm not sure they ever will due to the wilderness / survival vibe they're going for.
On that same thought trail though, how about a scuba outfit? It's probably sacrilege to utter its name in this post but it seems as though the upcoming block game Hytale has this very piece of equipment:
I can just imagine whipping a helmet together with a glass pane, some leather and string. Then maybe the O2 pack with glass bottles, leather, string and... erm... what could be the tube? Bamboo? 😅
Or you know, we could go for the classic Sonic The Hedgehog approach of having large bubbles floating from the sea bed and bumping in to them grants air. 6 year old me would love that!
Regardless. Underwater exploration is still an area of Minecraft that I think is left unappreciated. They went through all that effort to create beautiful coral coves, sink mysterious ships, reveal flooded civilizations and we even have a world boss in Ocean Monuments but genuinely, ask yourself - do you ever go in the water?
My first WOW moment wasn't really until I saw this shot in the demo:
My brain immediately flashed back to Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, you know the scene where Dumbledore has to drink the Potion Of Despair? Well, more so the moments just before that when he pops an orb of light out to reveal the cave's grandure.
Now you can tell from the hotbar that this footage has been brightened quite significantly in post and that's where my one and only worry lies. These huge new caves are impressive but will we even be able to see them to appreciate them without littering them with torches?
Here's a comparison between a regular screenshot from Minecraft and the colorings of the hotbar versus the brighter one in the demo footage
Using that difference to match and then reverse the effects (not so elegantly) in Photoshop, this is what it roughly looks like before any edits:
I reckon they'll have popped their brightness in game up to full (I doubt they'll have gone any further by altering the gamma in the game files) and although it's quite a stark difference, with a sigh of relief, it looks as though you will still be able to see the sprawling caverns that lay ahead of you, phew!
The team did mention that ores that are currently glowing will be placeholder for a new block type that will assist with vision in the caves and it would be cool to see them experiment with this. Maybe dependant on the biome that resides above the hue (colour) of the glow could change or the intensity of the light it gives off would differ too.
This style of cave looks mighty dangerous! Never knowing when a stalactite might suddenly fall on your head will raise tensions and having to watch your step whilst fleeing mobs as to not fall in a classic RPG spike pit is going to be tricky.
(by the way, a little trick for remembering the right name. If you were trying not to fall down, you're hold one TIGHT to a stalactite - thanks Agnes)
A nifty feature of the hanging rocks is the water that drips down from them can be collected in Cauldrons to become a renewable water source. I can't lie, I'm a little worried about our 2x2 holes in the floor providing infinite water being patched out... They wouldn't, right?
There were definitely a vocal bunch in my stream chat at the time that criticized the appearance of these new formations and even the team acknowledged it:
Adding these was pretty difficult. It's a very unique shape that Minecraft isn't really accustom to.
Personally, I think they've absolutely smashed it. It's an elegant way of using plains intersecting one another to create a fuller 3D appearance from most angles you look at it. Sure, there'll be some unflattering angles but we all have those, we've all caught our 3rd chin on our phone's camera when we accidentally open the app. Give 'em a break!!
Seriously though. I'm sure people think the alternative would be better, that being miniature blocks making up the entire structure but that would be more intensive for people's machines and not to mention the janky collision boxes they'd present. I'm more than happy with this iteration of them.
I only have 3 questions regarding these:
Does the damage a stalactite deals increase based on how far it falls?
Do you take damage from colliding with either from side on. Or is it the tip only?
Can you build on them? (could you stop an inevitable death when falling or build from the side to keep your sky bridge going)
Spike pits may have been added in to mods as far back as 2010 thanks to Adventurecraft (which by the way, continued development this year, even the Zelda map has been spruced up!!) but it'll be awesome seeing the newer gen popping these in their adventure maps moving forwards.
A final observation on these too is the collision box of the stalagmite when the zombie died seemed an entire block taller than its sprite. Huh?
I'm pretty sure I just heard Mumbo screaming in joy off in the distance 👂
These. Look. Unreal.
Simply put, this is wireless redstone that can be triggered by vibrations. Vibrations can range from a piston moving to a lever being pulled or even just your footsteps nearby. I can't even imagine what whacky contraptions people will create with this technology especially when you can send it onwards like a relay?!
I'm no kind of redstoner so I'm not going to try and pretend I understand its full potential and complexities but I do have a couple of notes..
Sculk Sensors are the half blocks that are primed and ready for vibrations to occur. The visual is obviously really cool with the plant like / trendily top BUT I can imagine most map makers would want a block that sits more flush with the walls of their structure to be better masked by changing its texture. I can imagine traps or puzzles being spoiled by this distinct shape being nearby. Maybe this is something a data pack could help alter? (I'd disable to sound too obviously)
Will these be craftable or only collectible? Best case, we can collect them without the need for Silk Touch and you can rework the more full sculk blocks in the crafting table to create additional sensors. Worst case, you can't craft them and have to cheery picky them from the Dark Depths.
THE DARK DEPTHS
This new underground biome looks haunting as heck and I bet MatPat is eagle eyeing this new content to build upon his Old Builders theories because the walls of this tunnel look more man made, like brick work, in addition to the candles and kegs in some kind of abandoned break room - people used to roam here..
Within the Dark Depths we'll be encountering this VERY powerful creature. 7 and a half hearts per hit to a Netherite Armour wearer?! NOPE NOPE NOPE ALL THE WAY HOME
They've absolutely smashes the style and tone of this mob. We saw from the concept art and Agnes' comments that they were trying to lighten the scariness with a hint of derpiness which I agree they achieved.
One thing I will say though is that its general movements and sweeping attack feel so much more sophisticated than any other Minecraft mob in terms of animation which almost makes it a little jarring to look at..
The only other vanilla mobs that come close are the Evoker (as well as its traps) and the Ender Dragon but even then, the Warden feels 'sped up'. It's the same sensation and discomfort I experienced when waaaay back when YouTubers started uploading in 60fps rather than 30, or the same feeling people had when they saw The Hobbit in 48fps. Maybe it'll just take some getting used to OR maybe every other mob in the game will get a spruce up in the Caves & Cliffs update?
Either way, it looks great and I can't wait to test the limitations of distracting its focus with snowballs and seeing what (hopefully) mind-blowing loot it has on offer.
It would never happen but the Warden in my mind would be the perfect candidate to play the gatekeeper role to a new dimension. You defeat it, use its loot to craft a new portal and away you go.
That idea isn't just plucked out of the air by the way. Notice anything slightly sculky about the decoration in this Minecraft Dungeons level?
Just thought for thought 😉
Speaking of which, the next gameplay section of the broadcast was about Minecraft Dungeons. I'm not going to linger on this too long as there wasn't a whole lot announced other than a quick flurry of clips for future biomes that we'll explore but...
I'm in a weird place with Dungeons. I felt very underwhelmed by the final boss in the Jungle Awakens DLC and the run up to it didn't feel too progressive. It felt like a few texture changes then more mindless slashing..
To give the game a fair shot though I dived in to the Creeping Winter DLC hoping for something with a little more oomph and it was marginally better. The Iceologer was initially frustrating but once you'd gotten its pattern down, you were groovy. Snowball projectiles from mobs that didn't previously have them was a nice curveball and as always, the environments were spot on with a mixture of vanilla blocks and Dungeons originals (I wish more would make the transfer to vanilla!).
Much like the first DLC though, the 'final boss' was incredibly easy. So much so that I hand on heart believed I had one more level to tackle but that greyed out icon was actually for the weekly challenges/trials. Here's how that unfolded:
Now granted I had a particularly fast bow but even watching other people's lets plays afterwards, people got through that battle practically untouched. I love the visual of this boss with that bullet hell fire style but the cone was too wide and the projectiles too slow. A minimal strafe ensured your safety. It really felt like a mid-dungeon boss.
Compare this fight to the Enderman / Arch Illager battle from the end of the core game, THAT, is a boss fight. A visual spectacle, hard hitting but fair patterns and a smidge of punishment. It really felt like something to overcome to 'see it through'.
Fair play not making the Jungle Awakens boss too difficult but the finale to your DLC Pack should leave us hungry for more.
Anyways, back to Minecon Live reveals. The teaser footage of future biomes does suggest that there will be more puzzle solving ahead which I'm all for. I just hope they don't let the bosses (particularly for the Nether / End) fizzle out the experience again. I'm all for some mindless 'slash and sprint' but I want a boss to stop me dead in my tracks, make think tactically and present a challenge to overcome.
TERRA SWOOP FORCE
If you've never played the map before, it's coming to bedrock really soon and it's one of my all time favourite maps. Why aren't there more Elytra courses?
It did mention that it was being updated for Java Edition but I don't want to get my hopes up. I reckon it's just making it compatible in 1.16 without any new courses / content.
But the real question is... WHY GET MY HOPES UP?! I THOUGHT IT WAS A 2ND MAP!!
To be fair though the Noxcrew team are probably more than busy with the Minecraft Championship (which I'm playing in on October 24th by the way!!) and other marketplace content.
Maybe some day 😇
NEW ORES AND GEMSTONES
Mojang kicked off wave 2 of C&C info with the reveal of Amethyst Geodes
These are going to be fairly rare and the purple blocks themselves cannot be mined but the crystals that sprout from them, will be obtainable as Crystal Shards.
It'll be interesting to see whether this is restricted to just Amethyst or whether we'll finally see the inclusion of other gemstones like Sapphire and Ruby.
Now... This is where I where I felt baited. Nir (who by the way, seems like one of the most excitable and wholesome people I've ever seen, easily a new favourite dev of mine!) said the following:
It makes you go and build farms all around your world and, that also encourages you to create tunnels between them and find out ways of transferring those items from place to place.
I immediately started cheering at my screen about teleporters. A magical gem stone, a transferring across great distances, surely, SURELY that's where this is headed right?
And it was a TELEscope......... Oh. They had me in the first half, I ain't gonna lie.
It's easy to right this off as a useful feature because "every Java player has Optifine already anyway" but this is going to be a big deal for Bedrock players and the really pure vanilla Java kids.
I'm still holding out hope that teleporters will be in the feature list. Agnes did tease the Telescope as being only one of the uses, so there's still a chance.
ORE VEINS AND COPPER
Copper has featured in just about every expanded mod-pack I've ever played and it sounds like the developers have wanted to incorporate it in to vanilla forever too.
Alongside the copper comes the introduction of Ore Veins which sounds like a rad idea! Previously when you found an ore like Diamond, you'd mine the ones you could see then hollow away at least a 1 block radius in all directions to ensure there aren't any others connected and that it's regular old stone again.
The team repeatedly talk about the 'strategy of mining' and this definitely applies here. From now on we need to keep an eye on the adjacent blocks to see if they're discolored or tainted in some way, follow that trail and arrive at the next ore deposit.
It'll be interesting to see whether this will have a knock on effect to the ore count at each location or if they're simply making it easier to find more. By that I mean, if you were originally going to find 4 diamonds together, will you now only find 2 and then the remainder will be scattered to other locations nearby. Watch this space I guess.
These pieces of copper can be converted in to slabs blocks and stairs which all deteriorate over time and become this more rusted bluey/aqua hue.
Also, to stop woolen and wooden roofs occasionally suffering the wrath of Herobrine, lightning is now negatable thanks to a Lightning Rod. This is one of those features I imagine was added in simply to make parents lives easier. I can just imagine the amount of kids that have become inconsolable after losing all their progress 😅
Let's talk about bundles. A lot of people in my chat became very vocal very quickly when these were revealed. It was a real 50/50 between people celebrating expanded inventory space and the other half being critical of their appearance / functionality.
Let's start with the tool-tip preview when you hover over the bag. I'm actually not completely against this. I think this is actually a really nice way to get a quick glance at the contents and locate a specific item.
Everything in Minecraft pops visually and has distinctive colourings so this method works well at a glance. I know some people don't like the scattered and layered apperance but remember play with different UI sizes so if you were to lay them out like a grid, that would take up a lot of screen space really quickly.
On that note though, I would like like to see how busy things look when you have 64 unique items in one bag because I'm guessing that will be a lot less elegant.
Currently when you extract items from a bundle it seems to be EVERYTHING comes out at once. You couldn't quickly pop in and nab that spare piece of string you got in the Mineshaft or snag those bones before this cute puppy runs away BUT this feels purposeful..
It's pretty clear that the intent of bundles isn't to expand your base inventory from its usual 36 slots up to 2304 (if you had a 64 item bundle in each slot) and be easy to navigate through, they're more to be used as a dumping ground until you get home where you can manage things out in to chests.
Bundle capacity is surprisingly large in my opinion.
They've been very generous to us players. If I had to guess, I'd have gone for a 35 capacity meaning that when you extract a bundle containing all unique items in to your inventory you still have one slot free where the bag sits or to be honest, maybe even 26 so if you wanted to extract an item whilst out in the world, you make a small chest, extract, sort and go.
When extracting items, how does the Bundle determine the order?
Is it based on the order the items went in? First in, last out? Last in, first out? Rarity? Highest stack numbers first? Item ID?
In the demonstration we're only shown wooden halve stacks merged and then only 2 item types extracted so it's not enough to go on..
Also, little sidebar question. If you have an item inside a bundle and you pick up a new one, does it automatically go to the bundle to stack or will it sit in your main inventory until you manually bundle it up?
"Why can't it just work like backpacks in my favourite mod?"
STOP COMPLAINING!! We've gotten arguably the best deal here.
They're a nice alternative to the Shulker boxes because you can see the contents inside easily, they have a larger capacity and my guess is they'll be easier to obtain. If the recipe isn't simply string and leather then I'd be VERY surprised.
Having a new chest UI pop up when you open a backpack then trying to move items back to the regular inventory would be sloppy on controller meaning a large portion of the player base on Bedrock would be put out.
Little side note. It'd be lovely if the bundles could be named via the anvil.
ARCHAEOLOGY & BRUSHING
This is so far the most random addition to the C&C update. It might be a little unfair to say but it feels shoe-horned in as though they're trying to blur the lines between vanilla and the Education edition. Sorry, it's just how it feels to me.
I don't have too many opinions on this as in its current state I think this will be the sort of thing most people will run straight past. Maybe somebody desperate for diamonds might try their luck early game but later on a clay pot isn't high on most players priority list.
Maybe speed runners will find it helpful for villager trading in 1.17 runs?
I'd feel compelled to find these pieces if they were going to tell even a smidge more about the story of the Minecraft but Agnes immediately shuts this down with
"We will never tell the whole story"
Smashing. Welp, there goes any chance of me wanting to get invested. Guess I'll head back to the theorycrafted lore by MattPat's which so far, is pretty darn good!
Coming in with a clutch at the end of the show was everybody's new favourite mob!
The team confirmed that these adorable buggers will reside in the Lush Caves specifically and there's even a golden one! I wonder if they'll be super rare and it will feel like a shiny hunt in Pokemon?
To collect these it's as simple as whacking them in a bucket. There was no mention of any special foods etc. to get them on side, so maybe it will just be that easy.
One interesting quote from this segment was:
If you learn to co-operate with them really well, then they might even heal you in the battle
If the axolotls have magical healing abilities then what's the stop them from being able to provide breathing benefits to the player too? Maybe this is an adorable solution to our earlier questions about flooded cave traversal.
If you had to guess, what would be their breeding trigger be?
THE END OF THE SHOW
And following that reveal, the show concluded.
I'm not looking to get in to the debates about whether certain creators 'rigged' the mob vote because if Mojang really wanted to avoid that, they wouldn't make the poll such a manipulable format. They'd have done a survey via their website and bedrock launchers to reach the widest catchment. The poll nowadays is just a gimic to get something trending on Twitter (seeing as all 3 mobs apparently will end up in the game anyway someday).
At the end of the day, every person that votes because their favourite creator told them to, is a Minecraft player themselves already so it actually is serving a body of the community.
Jeb didn't go in to too much detail about the combat changes but I'm glad to hear those concerns are finally being addressed.
It was a shame to not see content creators involved doing segments this year, we always work from home remotely so I feel as though they could've leaned on them for segements / support given the pandemic going on.
Having been a host of one of these streams I have a unique appreciation for the amount of people and talent it takes to co-ordinate this showcase.
This is something Mojang don't have to do but they do it for all of us. They could easily throw together a Nintendo Direct style video reel, hit render and be don with it but they don't.
They understand that sitting down, talking on a relatable level about the ebb and flow of community / game dev is the right way to go and I agree. It makes us as players feel valued and heard. Everybody I've ever encountered at their offices is absolutely lovely and that bashful endearing persona they have on stage is legit, they really are that nice.
I can't wait to sink my teeth in to this new update, even if it's yonks away because I think it's going to be a legitimate game changer.
Thanks for reading and I'd love to hear your thoughts / theories via Twitter, so @ me 👍
(just fyi, the reason I don't enable comments on this website is because spam bots are notorious for flooding blogs with all sorts of rubbish and I'd rather not have to police that)