After a very long wait, we’ve finally gotten to the ‘caves’ part of the Caves and Cliffs snapshots. This is very exciting for Minecraft, since a cave update has been both teased and desired for years. While Minecraft’s original cave system is pretty cool, especially with canyons, Snapshot 21w06a threatens to completely demolish it. While only being the tip of the iceberg.
21w06a introduces the new cave generation.
None of the new underground biomes are here yet. Instead, we’ve got the foundations of the new cave system. The build limit has been extended from 256 blocks to 384 blocks, with 64 levels being added north and south. Mountains can be 64 blocks higher and caves can be 64 blocks deeper.
Doesn’t sound like much at first, but it’s a LOT. And it’s so, so weird being able to go to -60 on the Y axis without immediately falling into a void and dying. In the mean time, old worlds made before 21w06a are not compatible, because there’s nothing to help convert from old caves to new caves.
From what I’ve seen, the new generation underground is… interesting. Caves between Y level 64 and down to about Y 10 kinda appear as normal, but a bit smaller. They’re more like the holes and tunnels we’d see in old generation. But at Y level 0 and below, holy shit things open out. I went from traveling in a tiny cave to a MASSIVE open expanse!
So many mobs!
What makes this new cave generation terrain terrifying is just how insanely dark and sudden it all is. Mining down is now more dangerous than ever, because you can fall from a great height if you’re not careful. Or you could just find yourself digging endlessly. Or, as I often found, I’d dig into water.
The lower caves are currently not easy to access. There’s very often a deep layer of water between the upper caves (above Y level 0) and the lower caves (below Y level 0). According to the snapshot update page, the current way aquifers work means that a lot of the newer cave generation will be flooded, and this will change later. But it does mean I found it difficult to get below Y level 0 by exploring caves alone, at least on the three worlds I generated.
Still, even if you ignore all the water, it is still dangerous in these new vast caverns. Because there is no natural light down there at all, there are SO MANY mobs. On the plus side, because there’s so much exposed stone, you can easily mine for rare minerals. Although this might change once the new underground biomes are added in a later snapshot.
These expanses go on for miles.
They are huge. Below Y0, you basically enter a whole different domain. Vast, open terrain that’s quite hilly along the edges but flat in the middle. There’s very little lava but plenty of water. Most lava I saw only seemed to drop down from caves above. The water however came from vast, open lakes, sometimes on different levels, and these lakes are very deep.
Underneath these though, there’s a whole second level of caves. It actually kinda reminds me of the old Far Land Corners, with terrain stacked on top of each other. Sometimes these layers have gaps in between them
Didn’t see any real bugs.
The only bug I saw was this weird visual bug, where I could see a thin edge in parts of the water. There was a hole in this aquifer and the water was spilling out into this vast field.
Aside from that, I didn’t notice much, aside from the lack of lava. I spotted all the standard ores (although I didn’t see much Redstone), but they were quite easy to see. Although, really, in a lot of places, they were the only things to see, because everything is so dark and there’s so many mobs spawning. A potion of Night Vision is basically a requirement down here.
Only one other thing stood out, and it was how carved up desert terrain now is. Most other biomes handle the new caves and stuff pretty well, but all that sand means a lot of deserts look a bit rough. Probably because a lot of sand ends up falling into the water around it.
The truly terrifying thing though? This is only the beginning. The underground caves and biomes haven’t even really been added yet. This is literally just the surface of what’s yet to come…