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Minecraft Caves & Cliffs Update: What we know so far

Minecraft as we know and love it is constantly evolving, whether through fan mods and creators or through official Mojang expansions. While we’ve previously enjoyed the Nether Update, which rehauled and retooled much of the Nether including new biomes, mobs, and materials, the next update looks to bring us back into the Overworld to return to the core of Minecraft: Caves and Spelunking. Slated to release in the middle of 2021, here’s what we know so far about the Caves & Cliffs update for Minecraft.  

All images courtesy of Mojang Studios and the Minecraft fan wiki

As the name suggests, update 1.17 focuses on several new underground biomes alongside general changes to cliff, cave, and mountain generation in vanilla Minecraft. Most notable are the addition of 4 specific underground biomes known as the ‘Deep Dark Biome,’ the ‘Lush Caves,’ the ‘Mesh Caves,’ and the ‘Dripstone Caves.’ 

Lush Cave Biome

The cave variations promise new blocks and plant life for the Lush Caves and a more catacomb-like structure to the Mesh Caves while the Dripstone Caves appear to feature large stalactite and stalagmite formations made of the aforementioned material Dripstone. Meanwhile, the Deep Dark Biome is the home to the new sculk blocks and sensors, as well as the mysterious new Mob called the Warden. 

Dripstone Cave Biome

Alongside biome-specific plantlife and vines come new mobs, with the goats, glow squid, and axolotl rounding out the (mostly) passive list. Goats can be bred with wheat much like cows or sheep but are exclusively found in the mountain biomes. They will attack other nearby animals with a charging attack, but will have a chance to drop a goat horn if they instead hit a block. The goat horns are not expected to regrow, so that may be their main farming purpose, outside of whatever meat they may drop. 

Concept art of the axolotl, goat, and Warden

Glow squid were originally featured in Minecraft Earth, and were actually selected via a poll to be added in the 1.17 update. Spawning in the deep ocean biome, the squids glow underwater and have a chance to drop Glow Ink sacks, which can be used to make Glow Item Frames. So keep an eye out on your next deep sea excursion! 

Glowing Squid

And finally, my personal favorite, the axolotl! Spawning in the new Lush Cave Biome, axolotls can be picked up in a bucket similar to other fish in the game, allowing for easy transportation as a new base pet. With 5 color varieties and regeneration abilities, they can actually be tamed much like dolphins with tropical fish and will attack other fish and squid. 

Last but not least, the big bad of the update: the Warden. The main enemy of the Deep Dark Biome, they appear to be roughly the height of an Iron Golem and just as tough, if not tougher. Given their subterranean environment, the Warden is entirely blind and relies on sound and echolocation to target players and other mobs that wander into its territory. While sneaking players can avoid it, invisible players won’t have the same luck, as it picks up the sounds and vibrations of their movement without sight and moves towards them. Early videos show it moving about as fast as the player’s walk speed, dealing 30 damage to players it gets its hands on, so it’s definitely something to be avoided unless you’re prepared for a hard fight. 

Minecraft
Concept art of the Warden from Minecraft Live 2020. Courtesy of GamersPrey, Youtube

Other smaller, more general updates are included as well. These include the addition of Amethyst Buds and Clusters as a new underground rarity used in crafting spy glasses and tinted glass alongside Calcite and Tuff, forming geodes of minerals. Copper blocks and ores join the list of metals and decorative blocks, with copper having a number of variants with different stages of pale green copper carbonate when exposed to open air or rain. Copper can also be used to craft lighting rods, protecting flammable structures from wayward lightning strikes. Ceramic shards and clap pots are part of the planned archeology expansion, although not many details are fully known, with many having placeholder art at the moment. 

A building featuring a copper roof, with blocks in different stages of carbonation

And those are the overall highlights of the 1.17, Minecraft: Caves & Cliffs update! While there are some more unconfirmed features speculated on in the community, the rest will have to be explored fully when the version is ready for release. Until then, hold onto your pickaxe and keep digging! 

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