The Minecraft 1.9 Combat Update was officially released after a week of pre-releases and bugfixing. It features a plethora of new stuff to play with. If you haven’t been keeping up with the changes, or just need a reminder, look no further because we’re looking at the main features it brings to the table…
Unsurprisingly, the Minecraft 1.9 Combat Update features huge changes to the combat system. The most noticeable change is the addition of an offhand slot that shows up right next to the armor slots. Putting an item in the offhand slot will make it show up in your non-dominant hand and be completely usable with the mouse right-click. For example, if you put a torch in there, you can place them down while still having your pickaxe ready for mining.
To accompany this change, Mojang also added a new item – the shield. It’s the perfect offhand item for hardcore battles as it allows you extra protection. You can combine it with a banner to give it a cool pattern. The Combat Update also features some more subtle changes to combat, like changes to armor protection levels and the effectiveness of tools as weapons (for example, axes will be slow and strong while hoes will be quick but weak).
To spice up ranged combat, the Combat Update features new arrow types – potion tipped arrows. These come with a variety of lingering effects from attack reduction to plain old damage over time. There are also spectral arrows that “mark” the struck entity (mob/player) and give them an outline which can be seen through walls and even when the entity is invisible.
There’s some new enchantments too, the most exciting of which is Frost Walker. This new enchantment, obtainable only through enchanted books that spawn in loot chests around the world, allows you to walk on water by freezing it in a radius of 3 blocks around you. The ice then melts away over a couple of seconds, making this a nice perk, but not something that you can abuse to farm ice.
Another interesting enchantment is Mending, which uses your XP to repair the item enchanted with it. It stacks with unbreakable and both can be applied on the new wings items, making them effectively indestructible.
The End Rework
The End, the famous boss dimension that serves as a home to the “final” boss fight of Minecraft, has received an extensive rework. First off, the Ender Dragon boss fight has been revamped to be more exciting and dynamic:
- it now has new attacks like Dragon Breath
- it has new behaviors, like protecting the obsidian pillars and stopping to defend the End portal at times
- you can now craft 4 End Crystals and place them around the exit portal to respawn the Ender Dragon, making the fight repeatable
After you beat the Ender Dragon, a portal will appear nearby marked by a purple beam shooting in the sky and through it you’ll be able to access a whole slew of new content – the outer End Islands. These islands are in The End, but they are much different than what you’re used to. There’s a new plant growing there, the chorus plant, which is cactus-like in appearance and behavior. Destroying it drops the Chorus fruit which can be made into a decorative flower or eaten to teleport around randomly like an Enderman.
The outer End islands also feature a new randomly generated dungeon – a post-end-game kinda deal. This is the End City, it resembles a giant tree of endstone with rooms branching out (not unlike the Lich towers from Twilight Forest), often with a flying airship structure nearby. Inside you’ll find valuable loot and a new type of enemy…
… the Shulker. This is a new enemy type found only in the End City dungeon, and it’s a creature hiding in a block-shaped shell. It fires projectiles that move along the geometric grid of the blocky world, and don’t cause damage on hit, but rather inflict levitation. Like Endermen, they can teleport away from danger.
Elytra AKA Flying
Yes, you can finally fly in survival mode! Well, more like glide, but it’s still pretty amazing. The new item called Elytra equips in the chest slot and activates by double jumping (pressing space after you’ve already jumped) which allows you to glide, a lot like real life hang-gliders. They are supposed to only be found in the floating ships in End City, but I’ve heard from people that they can also be found randomly in regular dungeons, so your mileage may wary.
Anyway, Elytra are really freaking cool and you can do amazing stunts with them. They also have the potential to revolutionize multiplayer combat in some situations like castle sieges. We’ll see what the community makes of this amazing new feature.
World Generation Changes
There are two main changes to world generation when it comes to the overworld. The first is that strongholds are no longer limited to 3 per world, but can now spawn up to 128 times in a world. This change should make many multiplayer fans very happy.
The second main change is actually an addition of a new structure that generates in cold biomes – the igloo. These tiny white houses are fully furnished and sometimes even have a hidden basement with some creepy stuff going on – a zombie villager and a witch await inside, so that should explain that part.
New Blocks and Items
The Combat Update also adds a plethora of new items and blocks, some of which I’ve already mentioned as a part of the other features. However, three additional new goodies require special attention:
- Roads can now be made from grass/dirt blocks by right clicking with a shovel. They provide a speed boost and have a special new neat texture
- Purpur is a new type of stone block that spawns in End cities and has regular, brick, and slab varieties
- Beetroots are a new crop found in villages that can be crafted into stew
Boats 2: The Boatening
Moving onto boats, they’ve received a full rework, adding versions of the boat for all wood types as well as completely changing how they work by adding paddles. They should act less clunky now and this hopefully means they will be used more since previously they were too buggy and slow to be useful.
Boats are now controlled using the A and D keys by default, and not using the camera and W. Yes, that does mean you can finally look around without turning the boat! The keys correspond to each paddle so if you want to go right you have to paddle with A for the left paddle. Holding both keys will move you purely forward faster that before, topping out at the speed of sprinting.
Captions and New Sounds
A new system has also been added that allows captions aka subtitles to function within Minecraft. This can be useful in lots of scenarios, for example for people with hearing problems, or to no longer be extremely prone to creeper sneak attacks while listening to music.
It’s a great feature and it’s about time it made it’s way in. If the picture above does not explain it well enough, there’s a very neat short gfy Dinnerbone posted to showcase how it works.
But captions aren’t the only new sound addition in town as a ton of new sounds were added to the game for all kinds of things from enemies to ambient effects. Play the Combat Update to experience them all first-hand!
While we’ve covered most of the cool shiny new features, the 1.9 Combat Update was not just about those – there’s a ton of bugfixes and optimizations done to make the game run better, there’s changes to command blocks and resource packs and various other things that will benefit the talented creators our community has and allow them to do cool new things.
Still no word on the modding API, though…
That’s about it for the Minecraft 1.9 Combat Update. I’ve tried to cover most of the main things you should know about, but there’s plenty more. While Mojang’s blog post isn’t very in-depth, redstonehelper (a legend among mortals) over on the Minecraft subreddit has compiled everything into a giant delicious list of changes, so for more details – and I do mean even the nitty gritty changes you would probably never even notice – head on over to his chain of comments.
We hope you’ve found this feature overview informative, and encourage you to stick around and stay tuned for even more Minecraft news, as well as our usual mod reviews and other cool stuff!
The Minecraft 1.9 Combat Update can be downloaded using the Minecraft launcher.
Like always, feel free to discuss the update and voice any feedback you might have in the comment section below.