MINECON Earth 2017 reveal – The Update Aquatic

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MINECON Earth logo
MINECON Earth logo (Mojang)

I’ll save you the hassle of skipping through the whole three hour video, and a very confused and awkward Will Arnett (“thats so cool” coming out more than a few times, presumably instead of “why the heck am I here”). The bit you’re interested in is 2:19:15 -> 2:34:20; that’s when Jens Bergensten, aka Jeb, hits the stage and reveals what to expect in the next major Minecraft content update. Titled, “The Update Aquatic”, Jens revealed:

Water columns
The whole mechanics and physics of water will be updated. The eventual aim is to make building underwater easier with less weird water behavior that long term players will know so well. As part of these changes, water columns will be introduced. The video shows these erupting from underwater magma blocks and rising to the surface. Buoyancy in water will now be a thing, with items passing over water columns losing said buoyancy and falling to the watery depths. Jens also inferred traveling over these columns in a boat would create a shaking effect, and possibly also drag players to a watery grave. If you liked the relatively recent fixing of boats, this sounds like boats could be a whole pain to travel in once more.

This could be the biggest mechanics update to the game in quite some time. Jens confirmed he was excited to see what contraptions would be created, suggesting the coming changes would be significant. For example the video shows water flowing freely through fence posts. Who knows what might be radically affected by this update: using torches to breath underwater, AFK fish farms, mob elevators, item transport and more. Fundamental parts of advanced play all rely on the existing water physics system, and its nuances.

The Trident
A new weapon that can be used in both melee and ranged combat. No mention was made about where this could be found, if it could be crafted or what damage it might deal. The video does show the Trident being used under water to defeat a guardian without suffering the ill effects that using a bow and arrow experiences under water. Two new enchants especially for the Trident were detailed by Jens:

* Loyalty – just like Thor’s hammer, throw this at your foes and have it return to your hand magically
* Rip tide – when swimming, throwing the Trident provides a “dashing effect”, helping the player move faster. This only works in water, except for when it rains and players can use this on land to throw into the skies and fast launch their elytra.

Confusingly this Mojang post also mentions the enchantments Impaler and Slipstream Dash.

Coral and kelp
In an effort to make underwater more interesting expect to see both coral and kelp in more nuanced ocean biomes. The update will introduce both both hot and cold ocean biomes; presumably coral will be found in the former, kelp in the latter.

Eagle eyed viewers will also no doubt notice that coral comes in multiple colors – and half slabs. Surely this has to mean that the holy grail of slabbing/stairing all the (sensible) things might be coming down the road?

Fish
All the fish players can catch in the game right now will also be found merrily swimming under water as passive mobs; coming and going much like bats in the overworld. Jens also mentioned a Tropical Fish, which may have been a slip of the tongue or maybe alluding to another as yet feature to be announced. Perhaps most interestingly, naturally swimming fish caught with a bucket, produces a new persistent item that in turn can be used to build aquariums in player homes.

Shipwrecks and icebergs
More new points of interest to discover providing better variation in ocean terrain.

Dolphins
A new and seemingly passive mob that the video shows playfully leaping out of the water. Jens indicated these would help players locate treasure, guiding them in the oceans. Little more info was provided.

Jens explained that these new features represent only a portion of planned new features in the Update Aquatic, expect more to be announced over time. Moreover, textures and behaviors may change significantly as the work evolves, and of course, as players get to grips with Snapshot releases. The changes to water mechanics alone should provide for some interesting months ahead!

Bergensten wouldn’t be drawn on a release date, except confirming sometime next year. Given that Minecraft 1.13 is being routinely touted as the technical update, we have to presume that the Update Aquatic won’t see the light of day until Minecraft 1.14. This could mean we’re going to have to wait quite a few months yet. I wouldn’t be surprised with a Spring->Summer 2018 release window. Also confirmed: the Mojang guys are Wes Anderson fans ;).

Finally around the 2:35:00 mark, Mob B was chosen by players to be added to the game from the recent poll. This will also be introduced at the same time as the Update Aquatic. Jens confessed that the features of this mob are really in flux, and far from actually decided. We do know the mob has a working title of “monster of the night skies” and that it might attack players who haven’t rested. More info on this one to come for sure.

Meanwhile, some more Java edition specific updates in the following Java panel video:

In this video we hear the following official comments:

* Different variants of trapdoors, pressure plates buttons and trapdoors are coming for all wood types since Minecraft 1.13 will be in effect removing the Block ID limit.

* More slabs are definitely going to be a thing but don’t get excited for vertical slabs. The team don’t think they fit in the with the vision for the game, but they won’t close the door on the concept entirely.

* The new textures will provide a uniform style across the game. The old textures (pre-Jappa) will be available as a resource pack. The new textures will be released as standalone resource pack before 1.14.

* work has been processing on modifying worldgen so new content can be added more easily. The team confirmed looking at adding more things in the over world and in caves. Maybe even a potential future under ground biome.

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