If you haven’t played Minecraft or heard about where it’s at in a long time, let me catch you up. Let’s start with a look at how the game has performed and evolved up to this point and then we’ll get into the most recent updates that have been highly anticipated and acclaimed by people looking for a beefy addition to the vanilla game.
Minecraft’s official release was in November of 2011, with the public alpha release first being seen and starting to be talked about in May of 2009. I’ve been playing since a beta version before there were even beds or tall grass. Since 1.0 released, we’ve seen updates all the way up to the recent 1.16.1 version as of writing this. That’s including one major version update at least once a year, excluding 2015. As of writing this, the game has become the best-selling game of all time, topping the 200 million copies mark and boasting over 126 million players monthly active users. If you’re curious
The versions that were released in that timeframe mostly have names describing what their focus was, and that list is here:
- 1.4.2 – The Pretty Scary Update
- 1.5 – Redstone Update
- 1.6 – The Horse Update
- 1.7 – The Update That Changed The World
- 1.8 – The Bountiful Update
- 1.9 – The Combat Update
- 1.10 – The Frostburn Update
- 1.11 – The Exploration Update
- 1.12 – The World of Color Update
- 1.13 – The Update Aquatic
- 1.14 – Village and Pillage
- 1.15 – Buzzy Bees
- 1.16 – Nether Update
An Overview of Changes
Where we’re at now is the Nether update, which has added a plethora of features to an aspect of the game that has not seen substantial change since it’s inception. The Nether, a place that, to many, might resemble some idea of what some call “Hell”, is commonly referred to as a hellish place due to it’s increased difficulty compared to the Overworld. After all, everyone knows that if you fall in lava, all your items are gone, and that happens far more in the Nether.
It has lava seas, Pigmen, giant floating Ghasts that spit fireballs at you, sprawling fortresses filled with Wither Skeletons and Blazes, but also has some of the most valuable treasures and resources, including some resources you need to get to The End, another dimension of Minecraft only accessible via an End Portal. As of yet, there has been no talk of an update to The End, but speedrunners are likely to be halted by how much has changed in the Nether.
The one biome the Nether was comprised of previously still exists, but is now called the Nether Wastes biome and is accompanied by four entirely new biomes. Each of these biomes has it’s own focus and new blocks and features.
- Soul Sand Valley has tons of, you guessed it, soul sand! These pair nicely with the new Soul Speed enchantment available for boots that are only obtainable in the Nether. Skeletons are a big feature here as well, more common than the giant fossils made of bone blocks that add some flavor to the whole setting.
- Crimson Forest is a dense forest-like biome with trees made of nether wart blocks and weeping vines. Perhaps one of the more simple biomes introduced, it offers a concentrated area for mining nether warts, which is valuable in potion brewing.
- Warped Forest is largely the same as the Crimson Forest, but features “warped” variations. The color variance shows this well and ends up being one of my favorite biomes in this update.
- Basalt Deltas look like volcanic deltas. They have magma blocks everywhere, basalt and blackstone, gravel, glowstone, etc. This, more than any of the new biomes, makes me really feel like this is the new embodiment of the Nether itself.
There are new structures as well, including the Bastion, which is a Piglin-inhabited structure that has treasure in it. Of course, you take this treasure at your own peril, but another caveat of interacting with Piglins is that you must be holding or wearing an item of gold. Otherwise, they will attack you. If you’ve been hoarding gold ingots for no discernable reason, you can “barter” with Piglins by giving them gold ingots. In response, they will throw a random item down on the ground for you to pick up (rude).
Hoglins, another new mob, are vicious animals that will attack any mob on site. They can’t be tamed, distracted, or reasoned with. This is a good one to avoid if you’re only trying to get some of the new items in the Nether and trying to get out alive.
Probably my favorite of the new mobs is the Strider. As the name suggests, the strider has long legs, but what might surprise you (or maybe not) is that it spends all its time bathing in lava. These can be tamed and ridden using a saddle while holding a warped fungus on a stick, similar to how pigs have been ridden for years now. The achievement Mojang added for this activity reads, “This boat has legs” and while most of their cheesy achievements make me roll my eyes, I appreciate that one.
All of this and there is always more to come! It makes me wonder if there is even an end in sight or if they’ll just keep pumping money back into the game to keep it growing? I imagine it will be the latter because there really is no point in stopping milking a cow that keeps producing.
Outside of Single Player
More than that, Realms are already available for playing across the world with your friends to enjoy these new features, and I have to say I’ve been enjoying my experience on a Realm with my friends.
If none of these features interest you, however, you might find looking into a public server more your speed. They have servers for everyone!
Want to try your hand at being a merchant and running a shop or just finding your niche in an economy? Try an economy server.
Want to play mini-game after mini-game? There are tons of servers with that focus.
Want to try a focused game mode like jailbreak or play a round of hunger games? Those servers are popular.
Want to gang up and create/join a faction or start a town and go to war? Faction and Towny servers are also popular!
Many of these servers feature plug-ins that are updated rigorously to improve quality-of-life aspects for players. They are right to, since many of the servers I’ve played on have boasted great amounts of players, and with all the premium ranked players I’ve seen, they make a ton more than you might expect.
Over the years, the different modders that focus on Minecraft have worked on changing every single little bit of it from texture packs to adding new mobs, new features like magic, etc. and so much more that I can’t even list. If you haven’t looked into Minecraft too hard previously and you’ve done what is common and written it off as a kid’s game somewhat like Roblox, you’re doing yourself a disservice. For the amount of money you pay, the amount of content you gain access to is exponentially greater than many mainstream games these days.
For these reasons, I highly recommend getting into Minecraft if you don’t have it already. If you have it and haven’t booted it up in a while, do yourself the favor and at least explore some of the new additions in creative mode, if nothing else.
Bonus: @HelenAngel on Twitter, the Community Manager for Mojang, is 100% an ally for trans rights and worth a follow! She is cis but says that Mojang has trans employees and they’ve been saying that they support trans rights for a while.