Every Minecraft Update Ranked (Part 2)

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!

Every Minecraft Update Ranked (Part 1)

Given that, by some estimates, it is now the best-selling game EVER, I don’t think I’m alone when I say that I believe that Minecraft is one of the greatest games ever made. While I can’t get exact numbers (if anyone knows how, please tell me) it’s easily the game I’ve sunk the most hours into over the course of my life so far and I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of it.

One of the reasons I’ve stuck with the game for so long is because it’s constantly evolving. Ever since the game first became available to the public, Mojang has been consistently adding new content and updating the old content completely free of charge to existing players. This philosophy of game design arguably paved the way for systems like Steam Early Access to become as popular as they have, be that for better or for worse is still up for debate, but what isn’t up for debate is the crown atop Minecraft’s head as one of, if not THE, most successful & influential games to ever be made.

However…

Not every update was able to turn the world of Minecraft on its head like others and over the years there have been plenty of updates that failed to add much of any value to the game, or in some cases, actively worsened existing features. So today, I’m going to take a look at every major update to the Release Version of the Java version of Minecraft (i.e, from version 1.0 onwards) and rank them all from worst to best as of February 2020. This is going to be a two-part list, as it ended up being quite a long one, so stay tuned for that in a few weeks!

17 – Version 1.10 – The Frostburn Update

Release Date: 8th June 2016

When it comes to “Placeholder Updates” they don’t come much more placeholder than this.

1.10 was the definition of an update for the sake of an update. It had been just under 4 months since the release of 1.9 and it would be another 5 months until the release of 1.11, so it seemed to me like the team at Mojang pulled together a couple of relatively simple new features and stuck them in one of the smallest ever updates in order to tide people over until the next major update was ready for release at the end of 2016.

In terms of additions to the game, there’s wasn’t anything major to shout about, Magma Block, Bone Blocks & Red Nether Bricks were certainly all nice to have and they’ve added a nice layer of depth to some builds, with Magma Blocks even getting extra functionality in later updates, however when you compare it to many of the other updates we’ll be discussing, they’re really nothing special. Polar Bears were also a cool little touch, but there isn’t a great deal you can do with them other than look at them and the same goes for the new mob variations, such as Strays and Husks.

The only addition that I’d say made any kind of impact was that Structure Blocks – which were added in 1.9 – were given their full functionality and have proved a great tool for those creating custom maps and larger builds in general.

Like I said, all of the features added in this update were nice things to have, but none of it warranted a brand new release version and they could’ve easily been just a part of any other update without any major impact.

16 – Version 1.6 – The Horse Update

Release Date: 1st July 2013

No really, it added Horses and that’s pretty much it. Leads, Nametags & Carpets came with it and while all those things are useful, they’re nothing exciting. The only reason I’m placing this update above 1.10 is that, as much as just horses aren’t much to centre a whole update around, horses were actually a pretty good feature that had at least a bit of depth to it. Horses are animals with a bunch of different designs and stats, so you could actually try to find the best ones and since Donkeys & Mules were added as well, they actually had some tangible utility with the movement of both yourself and your stuff.

While it’s technically outside of the game, it’s worth noting that 1.6 is also when we finally got an updated Launcher for Minecraft that made a lot of quality of life changes. It made the advanced settings much easier to access and change, it gave us a news feed as well as the ability to save our own, fully customized setups and in general, seems a lot more stable than the old one.

15 – Version 1.12 – The World of Colour Update

Release Date: 7th June 2017

Much like 1.10 before it, 1.12 didn’t actually add much in terms of tangible game content, but what gives 1.12 the edge over 1.10, is that it made a couple of changes & additions to other systems in the game that greatly improved the experience for people.

Firstly and most importantly, the achievement system was completely re-worked into the “Advancements” system which is brilliant. The achievement system in Minecraft wasn’t all that intuitive and often it just straight up wouldn’t work, I couldn’t tell you how many times I got the “Getting Wood” achievement in the exact same world where I’d already got it 15 times.

There were also a couple of accessibility options such as the narrator, that worked as audio description for the game, which was a great help to allowing the visually impaired experience the game to it’s fullest. We also got ourselves the crafting book, which would actually show you the recipes of items & blocks that you’ve unlocked. Admittedly, I can’t really comment on how useful of a feature this is since by the time it came around, I already knew how to craft just about everything in the vanilla game, but it certainly seems like it’d be a big help to someone new to the game.

As great as those features are, they aren’t entirely obvious features to add, so I can’t give them as much credit as they perhaps deserve, especially when you look at what actually was visually added and…it’s not exactly overwhelming amounts of stuff.

Parrots were a fun addition, although, much like Polar Bears, they don’t exactly add anything outside of something to look at. Not to mention Mojang’s original idea of feeding them cookies led to children poisoning their pet parrots, so they changed it. The addition of Concrete Blocks was another pretty nice thing to have and it meant that there were plenty of options for builds that required flat colours, instead of wool, which had a slight texture to it or terracotta, which had fairly dulled colours.

Also, it added the Illusioner, a mob that has absolutely no way to spawn in survival mode and has basically no purpose out of being a weird boss-fight in adventure maps.

Much like with the additions of the previous two entries, however, these weren’t additions that warranted their own separate updates and would’ve been much better suited to being just one part of a much larger one, especially when you consider that it would be over a year until we got our next update following 1.12.

14 – Version 1.11 – The Exploration Update

Release Date: 14th November 2016

With 1.11 we’re done talking about the updates that didn’t add anything major (or only added one thing of note) and I would say there’s actually quite a jump in terms of quality of content from the previous three entries to this one.

First thing’s first, Shulker Boxes. The expanded End dimension had been around for just under a year at this point and although the Elytra was a cool bonus for people to get from End Cities, there wasn’t much reason to come back after your first visit unless you were stocking up on Purpur blocks for a building project. Then Shulker Boxes came along and became one of the most useful items in the whole game, acting as extra inventories that you could carry around with you and, unlike End Chests, you could have as many as you want, filled with all kinds of different stuff as you carried them around. While they’re a relative end-game item, their usefulness is so great that it keeps me coming back to End Cities time and time again to hunt down more Shulker and expand my storage systems all the time.

Redstone got another minor expansion in the form of the Observer block. I have no idea how it works as I’m not a Redstone person, but those who are, have assured me it was a very welcome addition and allowed for ever-grander Redstone contraptions to be built.

The final major addition of this update is the Woodland Mansions. These mansions are gigantic structures that spawned several thousand blocks away from your world’s original spawn point and are really only ever found through a map you could gain from villager trades. While they look cool, they’re not exactly that great of a challenge for people to face for the most part and I can’t even say they’re overly worth it. The only unique item they give you is the Totem of Undying, which can save you if you take a fatal blow, but outside of a couple of boss-fights, I’ve never found myself in need of them, so I generally don’t bother.

However, there were Llamas added too, so this update can’t be all that bad.

13 – Version 1.8 – The Bountiful Update

Release Date: 2nd September 2014

Unlike most of the other updates we’ll see on this list, 1.8 lacked much of a theme, however, when you look at the kind of things it added, I can’t help but be quite impressed by the vast array of what was on offer.

Ocean Monuments and various Guardian mobs helped make oceans that little bit more interesting places to explore before 1.13 would give it a helping hand a few years later.  However, much like the Woodland Mansions, I don’t often find myself having much interest in the Monuments and very rarely go out of my way to clear one out, the blocks you can get from them if you’re an avid builder like I sometimes am then Prismarine and its variants are very nice, but I often think that it’s just not worth the hassle.

Armour Stands, Banners and a whole host of new fence & door wood variations were welcome additions to make plenty of builds more visually interesting. The wooden variants especially were features that were long overdue to be added into the game and banners were implemented in such a way that their potential was seemingly limitless. We also saw the introduction of everyone’s favourite stone variants in Andesite, Diorite & Granite, which helped make caves a bit more interesting, even if 2 out of 3 of them look absolutely horrible when used in builds.

Rabbits helped add a bit more flavour the wildlife in the world, although they’re fairly inconsequential in the grand scheme of things and Barrier Blocks were extremely useful for keeping players under control in adventure maps. Then we got to play around with Spectator mode, which didn’t revolutionise anything, but certainly made various situations a lot more easy to sort out on multiplayer servers.

There’s a pretty big black cloud hanging over this update as what was easily its best feature would later be removed for some reason. That being custom world options. This feature allowed you to fully control just about everything in terms of the parameters of how you want your world to generate. There were plenty of easy options for things like biome size, ore frequency, sea level; while also offering people who understood what they were doing the opportunity to enter in just about any advanced values and commands they wanted in order to get exactly the kind of world they wanted. I’m sure there was a good reason for it being removed, but it was such an amazing feature and if it were still in the game today, this update would undoubtedly be higher up the list.

12 – Version 1.15 – The Buzzy Bees Update

Release Date: 10th December 2019

The most recent official update as of the time of release and while on the surface it doesn’t actually look like it added very much to the game, it’s what’s below the surface that makes this update a great one.

In terms of tangible addition, we got bees, honey and various blocks and items related to that like hives and bottles of honey etc. They’re a nice thing to have in the world and serve again to add a little bit of life to Minecraft’s overworld, but they serve very little purpose outside of aesthetics.

What’s really important about this update is the OVER THREE HUNDRED bug-fixes that were implemented. Minecraft has most certainly proven to be a bit of a buggy game at times over the years and while most of the major problems get fixed, the more minor problems were slowly allowed to build up and would eventually become a bit of a problem; with the 1.13 & 1.14 updates especially beginning to cripple Minecraft’s performance in various ways. These bugs have stopped many mods and servers from updating past 1.12.

So Mojang decided to dedicate this entire update to wiping away as many bugs as they possibly could and it clearly had a very positive impact on the game as a whole. While progress is still fairly slow as the update is still relatively new, servers and mods are slowly being updated to the current versions of Minecraft thanks to the bugfixes making it possible and sustainable. Even in singleplayer, I’ve noticed huge boosts in the game’s performance since 1.15 was released which goes to show just how needed of an update this was.

Unfortunately, it’s not very flashy, so I can’t really bring myself to put it much higher than this. I still greatly appreciate it’s existence though.

11 – Version 1.1

Release Date: 12th January 2012

This update is so early that it didn’t even get a name…dark times.

With many of these early updates to Minecraft, the lists of new features often aren’t all that long and the features don’t look so flashy because of how standard they are to us 8 years down the line. However, I think that goes to show just how crucial many of 1.1’s features were that many of us can’t even remember a time when these features weren’t in the game.

Language Settings were added as an absolute baseline for accessibility to a global game like this and helped to expand Minecraft’s reach even further than it already was, allowing the game to reach a truly global audience. Superflat Worlds gave people a chance to test out building ideas and contraptions in a completely controlled environment and it remains a key feature for many creators in Minecraft today.

Then there’s the stuff added for survival. Today we take for granted the fact that sheep can regrow their wool by eating grass, but until 1.1 that wasn’t possible and I can’t only assume that farming wool was quite the pain. Bows could now be enchanted with all of what we use them for today, making the Ender Dragon fight a hell of a lot easier and finally Spawn Eggs were added to the creative mode menu, allowing for greater testing of contraptions and allowing people complete control of what mobs appeared in their worlds.

Like I said, these additions don’t feel like anything amazing now, but they were game-changers at the time of release and they’re almost impossible to live without in the modern-day.

10 – Version 1.2

Release Date: 1st March 2012

Continuing on from the theme of 1.1 these are another set of additions that seem standard for the modern Minecraft player. The list is a little shorter given this was released a mere two months following 1.1, but I think this update has a slight edge over its predecessor just because I enjoy these features more.

The Jungle biome was added, giving us a new type of wood in the process. Jungles are by far the most interesting biome to me and I have many worlds where I’ve made my home there, be it along the ground or amongst the treetops. We also saw the addition of a couple of mobs in the form of Iron Golems to protect you and your villagers from monsters and Ocelots, which back then could be tamed into cats, giving you some vital protection against the ever-present threat that is the Creeper.

Finally, caves got a nice little touch-up and Abandoned Mineshafts were added to give the underground of Minecraft’s world a little bit of variety. These mineshafts are still fun to come across to this day and they sprawl out in just about every direction filled with all manner of horrors and treasures for you to find and it made mining a whole lot more interesting to do.

Like I said, not an extraordinary list by any means, but I have nothing negative to say about any of the features that were added and I’ve got a lot of enjoyment out of all of these features over the years.

9 – Version 1.9 – The Combat Update

Release Date: 29th February 2016

Sitting right in the middle of the list is easily the most controversial update on this list and I’ll talk about that in a moment. However, looking past the controversy, there was so much added in this update that made it great.

Addressing the negatives first, this is the update that gave us the extremely flawed new combat system that we’re still dealing with in Minecraft to this day. While I don’t think it’s that big a deal when playing singleplayer, it has led to PvP becoming quite a different beast and not in a positive way. I don’t do a lot of PvP but those that do have told me that this combat system more often than not simply comes down to a matter of “whoever gets the first strike wins” which isn’t very fun. Not to mention the change in system has led to many a frustrating YouTube video featuring people who haven’t played the game in years not realising that you can’t spam click anymore.

It’s a system that has inarguably been received very negatively by players and it has taken quite a long time for anything to be done about it, with beta testing for new combat systems being released every now and then, so it looks like a fix may be on the horizon.

Now, let’s look at the positives because there was a lot.

The most major thing is easily the addition of the secondary hand slot. This was a feature that mods had been adding into the game for years and it was one of those features that made so much sense it was mindblowing it wasn’t already a feature and it’s made so many things, so much easier since it’s addition. With the secondary hand also came shields, another “so obvious it should’ve been there from the start” feature, which made an impact on the combat system in a positive way, especially when it comes to singleplayer combat.

The biggest addition in terms of scale, however, is the extended End dimension after you defeat The Ender Dragon. Before 1.9, it didn’t really feel like there was much of a reward for beating The Ender Dragon outside of an achievement. It dropped a healthy helping of XP, but given how quickly XP is used up in Minecraft and how easily it can be farmed, it doesn’t feel like all that great of a reward. With the 1.9 update, that was no longer the case, as we instead got access to a vastly expanded dimension, featuring End Cities that contained a challenging mob in the form of Shulkers (which would later become extremely useful with Shulker Boxes) and some proper end-game loot in the form of enchanted diamond gear and the brand new Elytra, which made navigating the vast expanses of your worlds all the more exciting and easy.

It’s a little sad that 1.9 is mostly remembered for a largely negative feature because I really think it added some cool stuff that we couldn’t live without in the modern game. This counts double once the combat system has been fixed, as the current system will constantly seem like a huge weight dragging this one down in everyone’s rankings.

And there’s the first part of the rankings! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this list. Please, let me know what you thought of these updates, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo, where you’ll also be notified when the second part of this list drops in a few weeks time. Finally, make sure you come back here next week, where I’ll be running down my official rankings of ever episode in Doctor Who Series 7!