Minecraft Caves Update: The Big Changes Coming to the Game with 1.17

After an already impressive nether update this summer, Minecraft Live announced an even bigger update coming for caves in 1.17.

Photo: Mojang

Minecraft was already the perfect activity for quarantine, and when version 1.16 brought an update to the nether in June, many fans began punching trees again to see the changes for themselves. But as big as the new biomes in the nether were, they’re small potatoes compared to what Mojang announced at Minecraft Live on Oct. 3: the next big update fans have been requesting for years. That’s right — Minecraft 1.17 will finally make changes to caves!

In fact, the “Caves and Cliffs” update, as it’s called, uses alliteration to include the mountain biome modifications that Minecraft Live attendees voted for in 2019 as well, making it one of the largest updates in the game’s history. Many fans were probably expecting to hear about the new mountain goats, the “snowier snow,” and not much else. But there will be much, much more to the upcoming version.

The Minecraft 1.17 update is currently set to release sometime in 2021, but snapshots should be coming soon.

Here’s what’s changing in the big Minecraft update:

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Minecraft 1.17 Mountains

Let’s start with the goats because, just like the foxes that were introduced to the taiga, they have their own mechanics and are not just there to be cute. Because they live in the mountains, goats will have the amazing ability to jump onto ledges that would be inaccessible to other Minecraft livestock, but they’re also more dangerous. Get too close, and the goats will ram you (or other animals) with knockback, potentially causing a fatal fall.

Mountains will also be of a grander scale and will have fewer trees above a certain elevation, making the biome a little bit more realistic. An additional block known as “powder snow” will also be introduced to the game, adding both an element of danger to the environment and a new trap mechanic for players to take advantage of. Powder snow looks just like regular snow, but players pass right through it into an underground cave or other tough spot.

The mountains will not, however, be receiving the proposed “iceologer” mob as an import from Minecraft Dungeons, nor will the update see the introduction of the “moobloom” buttercup cow from Minecraft Earth. Instead, the update, as voted on by Minecraft Live attendees, will introduce the glow squid, a variant of the current sea creature whose uses are not yet known.

Minecraft 1.17 Caves

Not all of the new cave biomes received specific names, but they’re all equally impressive in scale, adding new beauty and grandeur to the sometimes tedious process of mining while also introducing new blocks and new mobs. The dripstone caves, for example, will add stalactites and stalagmites, the former of which can fill a cauldron while the latter can prove fatal if fallen upon.

The lush caves were the star of this part of the update, however, with their vines and glow berries providing a light source previously reserved only for lava when underground. Azalea trees above ground will provide players with a signal that lush caves lie below, and particle effects from spore blossoms will add an element of atmosphere that can be used in builds by simply moving the flower. Pools of water will also be a big part of lush caves, allowing for underground travel by boat.

The water will also be teeming with life in the form of the ugly-cute axolotl, an endangered species that Minecraft is championing in the same manner it did with bees in the 1.15 update. The amphibious creatures can be scooped up in buckets and brought into battle against the drowned or the guardians of ocean monuments. Axolotls will play dead in order to heal themselves and may even pass that health onto the player.

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The scariest part of the Minecraft cave update was in the deepest depths, where a new boss-level encounter will challenge even those in full netherite armor. The Warden is a fearsome, blind creature of the dark who will attack anything that makes a sound or vibration near its lair. The cave in which it dwells will often lose light drastically, and since the player will be forced to sneak to survive, this new environment will become one of the most frightening locations in the game.

Minecraft 1.17 Blocks

Redstone experts will be happy to hear that the new sculk sensor from the deepest depths, which uses the same vibration reactivity as the Warden, will output a signal that amounts to Minecraft bluetooth. The movement of one sculk sensor will activate the next wirelessly, allowing for new innovations in automatic farms, doors, and other technological builds. Wool will also find new use as a dampener for the sensors so that they don’t get caught in a feedback loop.

The lush caves will also give parkour fans the dripleaf plant, which provides a leaf platform that will sag if a player stands on it for too long. The plant grows to great heights, allowing for varying levels of temporary platforms that can be used creatively or just for decoration. Along with the new azalea leaves and even root structures that are visible in the lush cave presentation from Minecraft Live, there are plenty of new plants to add to a builder’s palette.

The Minecraft cave update will also add archaeological digs to the game, with pot shards adding decorative elements and history to the world. A new brush tool can even be used to change the level of gravel and dirt while removing it carefully enough to reveal artifacts like shards and even diamond or emerald blocks. And speaking of gems, Minecraft Live also revealed the existence of amethyst geodes, crystals which will only grow in specific locations and circumstances.

Last but certainly not least, Minecraft will be getting a very interesting new ore in the form of copper. The metal will be mined in veins rather than clusters, and the resulting ingots can be crafted in blocks that start out a vibrant bronze color that slowly forms a green patina with age, just as copper does in real life. The material will also be integral to the creation of telescopes, which will allow the player to zoom in on faraway sights, and lightning rods, which will protect wooden roofs in thunderstorms.

It’s difficult to decide which aspect of the Minecraft Caves and Cliffs update is the most exciting, but there’s little doubt that veteran players and those discovering the game during the pandemic will find plenty of new content to inspire exciting adventures and creative building in the future.

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We’ll keep you updated as we learn more!