A few weeks ago, I covered the bottom half of the Minecraft updates. The updates that didn’t really give us much in the way of amazing new features or impressive mechanics. So, in the second part of this list, it’s time to tackle the top-half of those updates and look through the absolute best of what Mojang has given us over the years.
8 – Version 1.0 – Minecraft’s Official Release
Release Date: 18th November 2011
While it might not be the best update, version 1.0 is easily the most important. Taking place at the very first Minecon event, version 1.0 marked the official release of Minecraft to the world, 2 years after first becoming publically available in alpha/beta version.
Much like 1.1 and 1.2, most of the features added in this update have become such staples in the almost 9 years since it’s release, but are absolutely huge in terms of scope and more than worthy of being the landmark features that carried Minecraft into a new age.
First up, is The End dimension, The Ender Dragon fight and the credits. While I’ve just ragged on the original fight a little in my previous entry, it was still a huge deal for Minecraft to finally have an endgame boss at the time of Minecraft’s release. While the appeal of the game was always the ability to do whatever you wanted for as long as you wanted, it was a huge incentive for many players to actually have a clear goal to work towards that forced them to partake in all of the major features that were in the game at the time.
Enchanting was another major feature of this update and once again, it’s something modern players arguably take for granted. These gave your endgame tools plenty of extra buffs and functionality, that allowed you to make some of the more boring tasks in the game – like grinding for building materials – go a hell of a lot quicker. Alongside this was the addition of potions and the ability to brew them, a feature I never use nearly as much as I should, but it gave players to give themselves extra advantages in some of the more dangerous areas of the game if they were willing to work for it.
The Nether also got the only major update it would get until 2020 came along with the addition of Nether Fortresses, that became home to the brand new Blazes and Magma Cubes two mobs which are staples of the game today.
Minecraft 1.0 was an absolute landmark for the game that only helped to further Minecraft’s meteoric ascension into the mainstream; not just in the gaming pop-culture, but in the world’s pop-culture.
7 – Version 1.5 – The Redstone Update
Release Date: 15th March 2013
Ok, so I’ll level with you, I know VERY little about Redstone in Minecraft. I can make some very basic machines, but that’s really about it. It’s just not something I’ve ever felt a desire to put much time in to. So if you’re someone who knows tonnes about the stuff and things this should be higher up the list then…well yeah, fair enough.
What I do know is that this updated added tonnes of items that expanded the possibilities for Redstone contraptions exponentially. Hoppers were a huge part of this, allowing for items to be pulled out and pushed into containers which are very useful features if you’re trying to set up a sorting system and I’m told it can allow for some ridiculously complex contraptions that can check for all sorts of things, but you’d have to ask an expert about that. By a similar token, Comparators and Daylight Sensors are blocks that I don’t understand in the slightest but are apparently brilliant and essential tools for anyone who wants to make something more complex than a piston door.
Quartz was the only other block of any major note that was added with this update and while it was nice to have a reason to go to the Nether, how hard it was to obtain was quite the turn-off and I find myself very rarely using it in survival builds.
Outside of that many of the changes were a bit more technical. Texture Packs were thrown out in favour of the far superior Resource Packs that allowed for a greater variety of changes that were possible to be made to the atmosphere of the game (not to mention, it removed the need for Optifine to be installed to use HD textures).
Finally, the lighting engine for the game was overhauled in a major way. I know this doesn’t sound like a big deal, but anyone who was playing Minecraft before this update will be all too aware of the horrific lighting glitches that occurred all over Minecraft worlds making the vast landscapes look painfully ugly. While this didn’t quite fix it entirely, it greatly reduced the problem, to the point where it eas barely noticeable and was eventually removed entirely with future iterations.
This is another update that isn’t especially flashy, but the things it established and made possible within the game are absolute landmark features for the game and deserve all the praise they get.
6 – Version 1.7 – The Update That Changed The World
Release Date: 25th October 2013
Up until 2013, one of the longest-running in-jokes in the Minecraft community was the major flaws of the world generation system. It seemed ridiculous that you could be in a sweltering desert one moment, only to take a few steps and be in an ice-cold tundra. Even outside of that, many of Minecraft’s world generation algorithms seemed flawed when you looked at the final product of what they produce. You don’t have to look far online to find some absolutely ridiculous looking generated terrain and the oceans in the world were simply far too large and far too frequent to make worlds interesting to explore.
So when this update claims to have “changed the world” it means that in quite a literal sense.
The generation algorithms for Minecraft worlds were seemingly rewritten in a major way. Not only were the frequency and size of oceans shrunk dramatically, but a new “climate” system was implemented that controlled what types of biomes were allowed to generate next to each other. So “hot” biomes could only generate next to other “hot” or “medium” temperature biomes and “cold” biomes could only generate next to other “cold” or “medium” biomes. It seemed like such a minor change on the surface, but it went that extra distance in making Minecraft worlds feel that bit more realistic.
It wasn’t just the algorithms that helped make Minecraft worlds more interesting though, as a whole host of brand new biomes were added and they each come along with their own fun additions. Savanhas helped add a bit more variety to the “hot” biomes and gave us Acacia trees to add a tasteful splash of orange to our builds. Roofed Forests added a bit of a fairytale feel to the world with the thick trees giving way to the giant mushrooms that could usually only be found on a Mushroom Island biome, alongside the Dark Oak trees, which have easily joined Oak & Birch as my most used wood types in the game. Then we had Mesas & Red Deserts, taking full advantage of the new Hardened Clay/Terracotta blocks to create a truly unique biome that allowed for some incredible looking aesthetics and has been home to my main survival world for many years now.
That’s not even all, as we also got some variations on existing biomes, like the snowless Taiga biome with the huge Spruce trees dotted all over the place and mossy cobblestone generating out in the open for the first time ever. We also saw Birch Forests, Flower Forests and Sunflower Fields which all brought us a whole host of brand new flowers to spice up the look and feel of our gardens, along with making many of the dyes in the game a lot easier to craft.
Version 1.7 was the update that turned Minecraft worlds into what we recognise them as today and it’s no surprise that everything added here has stood the test of time and become widely used features of the game to this day.
5 – Version 1.3
Release Date: 1st August 2012
To me, this was the first major update to Minecraft that actually felt like a huge deal. SO MUCH was being added that the excitement within the community at the time was palpable and I found myself caught up in it the whole way through. It was the early updates like this that really set the standard for what we expect an update to be in the modern-day.
To start off with, Villagers would no longer be totally useless creatures that may as well not even exist as trading was added into the game, in all its exploitable glory. These exploits would later be reigned in big-time but it finally gave players a reason to bring villagers over to their own builds other than aesthetic purposes. Finally giving the villagers functionality like this was such a welcome change and made so many resources in the game a lot easier to get. Speaking of resources and trading, we saw Emeralds added to the game. They’re pretty limited when it comes to functionality, but they look nice.
Exploration would suddenly become a whole lot more interesting with new structures being added to the game that had a chance to spawn out in the world. Those being the Desert & Jungle Temples that add a little bit of spice to those biomes and a neat little boost in your resources should you get lucky with the loot. Speaking of exploration, Tripwires further expanded the abilities of redstone, allowing mapmakers to accurately track players’ movement when needed.
Ender Chests were a fun new feature that allowed you to have a bit of a portable inventory to carry around with you. Although the Shulker Boxes added in later updates would vastly outmatch them, the Ender Chests have the nice bonus of having a player-specific inventory, preventing anyone from accessing and taking anything you’d stashed away inside.
The rest of the major additions were all technical in nature, but extremely welcome nonetheless. Adventure Mode stopped players from being able to place or break any blocks which was perfect for adventure maps (which were very popular at the time) as players could no longer potentially mess up or cheat by breaking block they’re not supposed to on the map. Creative Mode also saw a bit of an update as the menu was organised into a bunch of different tabs that separated out blocks and items, which was far superior to the literal laundry list of everything in the game that was there before then.
Finally, we saw the addition of commands that could be accessed in the singleplayer game. This allowed players to do things like change gamemodes, change the time of day or give themselves items on the fly if they wanted to. This was extremely convenient for many players (myself included) as, before this, the only way to access such features was to install the “Singleplayer Commands” mods.
Version 1.3 added so many features to this game – so many I couldn’t even list them all in this entry – and absolutely all of them were massive hits with players and have remained beloved features to this day. It set the standard for what a major Minecraft update would look like and many future updates would follow in its footsteps.
4 – Version 1.13 – The Update Aquatic
Release Date: 18th July 2018
After Microsoft first acquired Minecraft in 2014, there was a lot of worry surrounding what it would mean for the constant content updates for the game. Mojang continued to work like they had been, but many of the more underwhelming and negatively received updates released immediately following this purchase in the form of versions 1.9 through versions 1.12. Unfortunately, this led to the belief amongst the community that Minecraft would never again see the revolutionary updates it used to see and the game was destined to stagnate into the foreseeable future.
Then version 1.13 came along and booted all of those worried right out of the window. For the first time in years, we had an update that we could really sink our teeth into. Not only did it had a ridiculous amount of content, but it directly addressed one of the biggest complaints players had had about Minecraft for the game’s entire lifespan. That complaint being that oceans were extraordinarily boring.
So how were those complaints addressed? Well, first off we had a whole host of mobs introduced. Schools of fish would now swim around in the ocean, after spending many years being totally non-existent in-game, despite fishing being a major feature. Dolphins showed their heads too, as a relatively functionless, but extremely adorable mob that helped breathe life into oceans, alongside Turtles, which follow much the same lines. Finally, a variant on the Zombie known as the Drowned was introduced in order to add a small level of danger to proceedings when you’re exploring the ocean blue.
The layout of the oceans was also overhauled, with various biomes being added that both visually and functionally changes many of the game’s water mechanics. Like their land counterparts, oceans were now given temperatures the decided what could spawn around it alongside plenty of new blocks and vegetation that could only be found in the depths of the ocean. Coral & Coral Reefs are an absolute natural beauty in the game, especially at night, alongside Kelp & Seagrass that add a little bit of visual character to the otherwise plain ocean floors.
There was even brand new stuff to explore in the form of sunken shipwrecks that hit chests with varying degrees of loot, one item of which was buried treasure map that allowed you to find the brand new Heart of the Sea. This item could be used to create a conduit in the ocean, allowing the player to breathe underwater infinitely provided they were within its range. What was even better about all of this is that exploring them was so much more fun and easier than it used to be as the swimming mechanics were entirely reworked to be a lot more fluid and fun to play around with.
Not only did version 1.13 totally rejuvenate a previously completely uninteresting area of the Minecraft, but it restored people’s faith in Mojang to pump out the high-quality updates that they used to. You could even argue that it was largely responsible for the resurgence in popularity Minecraft saw in 2018, which is an incredible achievement.
3 – Version 1.14 – The Village and Pillage Update
Release Date: 23rd April 2019
Following the gargantuan update that was 1.13, version 1.14 had the important job of keeping that momentum going and assuring the community that the quality and volume of the 1.13 update wasn’t just a one-off and once again, the team at Mojang knocked it right out of the park. Continuing the theme of focusing on areas of the game that players had long-since needed a new motivation to care about, the concept of “Village and Pillage” was devised in order to completely overhaul just about everything to with Minecraft’s Villagers, including a few other welcome additions.
As you’d probably have guessed, the most major changes and additions in this update had to do with the villagers themselves. Trading had been a feature of the game for almost 7 years by this point and the system wasn’t very intuitive. Villagers had vaguely defined jobs that dictated what they could sell, but they were assigned upon their generation into the world and if you wanted something specific then you’d just have to go hunting and hope you got lucky enough to come across one. This whole system was inherently flawed, so Mojang decided to throw it out and start again.
Now, villagers were given clear and strict schedules as to what they would do all day. They would sleep, work, socialize all at scheduled points which served a great purpose when it came to making villages feel more alive, especially when combined with the brand new generation of their home in the village, which made the whole place look so much nicer than they did before.
The changes went deeper than that though, as the “job” system was overhauled in its entirety. No longer did a villager become assigned to a job upon generation and then was stuck with it, instead so-called “job blocks” were added, that causes a villager to take up a specific job when they detected a specific block nearby. Along with a general expansion of the number of jobs that were available, it became so much easier to get the kind of villagers you want and as a result, the whole world of Minecraft felt so much more active and alive.
That’s nowhere near the hight of it though as the idea of “Illagers” that was added in version 1.11 now got expanded as these hostile mobs would now form raiding parties and patrol the landscape, attacking any villagers they came across. They could be found in their patrol towers and if you were unlucky enough to wander into a village quickly after attacking one of them, a massive raiding party would show up in an attempt to wipe out the villagers living there. Plus they have crossbows…I like crossbows, they’re cool.
Taiga biomes saw some new features too after being voted on to receive an update at a Minecon a few years prior. Foxes were added to the game and are absolutely adorable, alongside berry bushes that provided a new source of food when you’re scavenging out in the wild. On top of that, we also a brand new biome in the form of a bamboo jungle, which features tonnes of bamboo canes, which could be used to create scaffolding, a block that made building big structures in creative mode infinitely easier. Pandas were added too and pandas are just great.
Version 1.14 proved that the success of 1.13 wasn’t a fluke and that the new standard Mojang set for themselves was one that they were going to uphold into the future. Much like The Update Aquatic, it took a feature of the game that wasn’t very interesting in the modern game and completely reworked everything about it to the point where it’s an absolutely huge part of the game today.
2 – Version 1.4 – The Pretty Spooky Update
Release Date: 25th October 2012
When I was first putting this list together, I honestly didn’t expect this update to land anywhere near this high. Wasn’t it just that minor Halloween update that was quite inconsequential? In short, no, it wasn’t just a minor Halloween update, it was an absolutely massive update that was arguably the turning point from the classic version of Minecraft, to the modern version we know and love today.
Let’s start with the mobs. Bats were added and while they’re pretty inconsequential, it’s always nice to come across one in a cave; Zombie Villagers created an added threat when it comes to hostile mobs attacking villagers since now they could convert those that they kill; Witches are quite the unorthodox mob that a bit of variation and character into the challenges of the night; and finally, we have Wither Skeletons and The Wither boss itself.
Wither Skeletons are quite the intimidating mob that only spawn in Nether Fortresses. Their dark colouring means they blend very well into the background fortresses and they don’t let up when they run full-speed at you with their swords raised, incurring the brand new “Wither” effect when they hit you. Then there’s the dreaded Wither boss. This was the second boss added to Minecraft after The Ender Dragon and it’s far more destructive and deadly than the dragon in question. With regenerative health, the ability to fly erratically in any direction and a rapid-fire of explosive projectiles, The Wither is a foe that requires careful planning in order to take down.
If the player can do it, however, they are rewarded with a Nether Star, a crafting material that can be used for a Beacon block. This is an end-game item that requires a literal pyramid of Iron/Gold/Diamond/Emerald in order to activate, but once you do you will be able to broadcast permanent potion effects to any player withing range, making plenty of things so much easier than they ever were before. Whether you wanted to make sure you always had health regeneration active, or create massive mining areas with the Haste ability, the beacon was a suitable reward for taking down the toughest mob in the game.
A bunch of new blocks & items were also added to help out with making worlds look nicer, such as Walls, which were a stone variant on fences and Item Frames which allowed you to display various items up on your walls, as well as being a useful tool for identifying the contents of various storage blocks. On top of that, new food was added in the form of Potatoes and Carrots which helped make your Minecraft diet more varied and your farms look a little more interesting that just rows upon rows of wheat.
Anvils were another major addition that made tools so much more versatile, as you could now customise your enchantments through the use of enchanted books, alongside being able to repair your enchanted tools, so you never again had to experience the disappointment of your most valuable possessions shattering in your hands.
The biggest addition though is one that truly revolutionised what was possible in the game. It didn’t impact Survival very much, but when it came to what could be created in terms of adventure maps and server challenges, the Command Block is what makes all of it possible. This was a block that allowed you to have pre-set commands in them that would activate when it received a redstone signal. I’m not going to pretend to know very much about how they work or the possibilities they hold, I just know that it was an absolute revelation in terms of creating amazing projects within the game. Every great adventure map that has come out in the years since has utilized the Command Block and it’s variants in some way to create some truly special experiences and it pushed the limits of what was possible in Minecraft into the stratosphere.
All that and more is what makes version 1.4 reach so high in this list. So high, that until about a month ago, I had it set to be in the number one spot. Then, as 2020 got into full swing, it was usurped from that top spot by an update that is absolutely incredible in terms of its content.
1 – Version 1.16 – The Nether Update
Release Date: TBD
You might say that this one shouldn’t count because it’s not actually been released yet, I’d argue that the fact it’s easily the best despite not being finished is all the more impressive. Throughout the entire development cycle for this update, I keep looking through the snapshots and being blown away by the quality and quantity of new content. Every week, I think to myself “surely they’ve reached the limits of what they can do now?” and every week a new snapshot comes out that adds a whole host of new features that blow me away once again. Not only were updates like 1.13 and 1.14 an indicator of great things to come, but it was also just the beginning of the increasing quality we have seen since.
Pretty much since it’s inception, The Nether had been…not that great. It was cool when you first explored it and necessary in order to get things like Blaze Rods and potion ingredients, but it never had any longevity. From my own personal experience, whenever I enter The Nether in a survival world, I tend to explore very briefly, see if I can find a fortress, then I quickly leave and only ever come back when I need some Glowstone or Quartz, which isn’t all that often.
So, Mojang decided they were going to fix The Nether by…basically stripping everything out and redesigning the whole dimension from scratch.
I don’t even know where to start. Let’s go with the biomes. Before, The Nether was just a barren wasteland with very little visually interesting about it. Now, four new biomes have been added in order to give The Nether a greater variety. These are:
– The dangerous and bloody-looking Crimson Forest
– The brightly coloured and relatively safe Warped Forest
– The cramped and dark-feeling Soul Sand Valley
– The grey and desolated Basalt Deltas
Each of these new biomes has an incredibly distinctive feel to them that makes them so much more special than the original Nether now I biome called ‘Nether Wastes’.
With these new biomes comes a whole host of new blocks and items. Basalt & Blackstone are a new aesthetic block that I have been crying out for the game to include for years. There are so many more ideas that I can make a reality in my survival worlds now a dark grey/black block with a stone-texture has been introduced. There are also two brand new wood types. These Crimson & Warped Roots have a colourful, yet slightly muted look to them that’s perfect for creating creepy, worn-down looking structures in either dimension. This is topped off with blocks like Crying Obsidian, giving the previously boring-looking Obsidian block a new paint-job; Shroomlight, which allows the lighting in builds to have a bit more variety; and Chains, which are a bit more limited in their potential, but a welcome addition nonetheless.
But wait! That’s still not all! There are also a bunch of new functional blocks that help with exploring the expanses of the new Nether. Lodestones now make it possible to find your way home when you’ve wandered far off the beaten track, while the Respawn Anchor makes sure you don’t have to go all the way back to your bed in the overworld should you die in The Nether.
New mobs are also wandering through The Nether. Previously known as Zombie Pigmen, the Piglins that wander the Crimson Forest are an incredibly complex mob that gives so much more flavour to The Nether. Normally, they’re hostile and will attack on sight, unless you happen to be wearing a piece of Gold Armour, at which point they will leave you alone unless you provoke them. You can also give them gold in order to get a bunch of different Nether resources, many of which can be quite hard to come by in other ways. Hoglins are also around them, although these are pretty wild beasts that can be very dangerous if you’re not protected against knockback. Finally, while we didn’t get Lava Boats, we did get The Strider mob, which we can sit atop as they walk us along the many lava oceans that greet the Nether floor.
THAT’S STILL NOT IT THOUGHT! I haven’t even got to what I think is the most monumental addition that has totally changed the progress structure of the game. As there are now Ancient Debris blocks deep under The Nether’s ground-level. This Ancient Debris can be crafted, with gold, into a brand new material: Netherite. Netherite is a material that can be used for tools and armour that is stronger than Diamond. This marks the first time since Diamonds were introduced into Minecraft roughly 10 years ago that there has been any kind of material superior to it in the vanilla game.
I think it’s so cool that Mojang aren’t afraid to change things up in a major way like this; even things that have been a part of the game’s systems for over a decade. This new version of The Nether absolutely puts the old version to shame and it makes me wonder how we ever put up with it for so long.
I didn’t even get the chance to cover everything this update added, but I’ve got to stop talking about it as this entry is almost 1000 words long by itself now. The craziest thing is that after I release this article, it’s likely that Mojang will add loads more features that send this update even higher up in my estimations. Mojang have done an absolutely incredible job with this update and I hope it’s exemplary of the kind of work we’re going to be seeing in whatever idea they have for the next update.
And there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this, please let me know what you thought of these updates, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure to come back next Friday, where I’ll be covering AEW Double or Nothing!