7 Reasons We Need a Cave Update for 1.17

Update: October 3rd, 2020

As of today, Mojang has confirmed 1.17 will be the Caves & Cliffs Update! Many of the points we go over in this article have been directly address such as the addition of a new boss, more complex caves, and more reasons to actually explore them!

Check out this recap from the official Minecraft Livestream!

The Minecraft community has been asking for a cave update for so long, it has literally become a running meme among long time players. If you are relatively new to Minecraft, you might not have given caves much thought. Sure they are lackluster, but they are still at least acceptable, right?

A cave update meme, popular in the community

Well yes, and no.. While there isn’t anything inherently wrong with caves, they hardly stack up to any of the new features and updates of the last couple years, and over time are starting to stick out more and more as an unpolished feature of the game.

So without further ado, let’s get straight into 7 reasons why we need a Cave Update for Minecraft 1.17….

1. We need a new boss fight

The End Dragon is a tough fight… your first couple tries at least. It takes some learning, decent aim with a bow, good MLG-water-bucket skills, and several well placed bed bombs. The Wither is infamous for destroying the bases of unprepared fighters, and while it is strategically easier to kill, it’s still no easy feat.

However, that’s it… For a game that is effectively infinite in almost every way, we can only fight 2 bosses? (Granted they are both re-summon-able) We get an End boss, a (kind of) Nether boss, but no bosses of the overworld.

Oh god no… anything but that

What if instead, they made procedurally generated bosses appear in some caves? Now, all of the sudden mining has an element of danger, and people who hate mining have a reason to venture into the deep. It’s a win-win!

2. Last Major Update Was 7 Years Ago

So depending on where you decide to split hairs, the last major cave update was either 2 years ago, when they allowed caves to generate underwater with the Aquatic Update, or it was as long as 7 years ago when the generation of cave-structures was last actually updated.

Personally I tend to lean towards the latter. My reasoning for this is that adding underwater caves with 1.13 didn’t actually do anything to change the caves themselves, it just made the same shoddy caves generate underwater. There were also a few minor updates to caves to match their block palette to new biomes as they were added in, but once again nothing that actually affected the caves in any significant way.

Animation showing the changes made to cave generation in the 1.7 update
Animation showing the changes made to cave generation in the 1.7 update

So yeah, the last actual update to caves was so long ago now that there are likely many young Minecraft players today who weren’t even alive for it’s release. Even then, the “update” was literally just to makes caves somewhat playable, as before they were often described as “Swiss cheese“.

3. Current caves are very simple

Caves systems are currently made of up of only 11 main components:

  1. Small caves
  2. Medium caves
  3. Large caves
  4. Hollows
  5. Cylindrical caves
  6. Ravines
  7. Deep pits
  8. Connected caverns
  9. Sea-access caves
  10. Water lakes
  11. Lava lakes

Now if that seems like a lot to you, it’s probably because like 5 of those are basically the same thing. Medium caves are just scaled down large caves, and small caves are just scaled down medium caves. “Connected caverns” are just several different sized caves intersecting, and “deep pits” is just a wide large cave that starts at the surface.

One interesting structure to note are hollows, which are so rare that simply finding a decent looking one near spawn will often result in the seed being shared around the community. Ravines are also another one for the “pretty cool” pile as they can be great sources of low effort resources. Finally sea-access caves, which are one of the newest types of caves, can also be fairly fun when tackled with the right gear since you can fluidly swim around them while mining, making it feel like zero-G mining.

A "hollow" cave featured on a mountain, naturally generated in Java 1.9
A “hollow” cave featured on a mountain, naturally generated in Java 1.9

That is the extent of “cool” features in caves though, 3 structures, and one of them is so rare, you will usually never find one in a standard survival world. Sea caves are a step in the right direction, but let’s be honest that’s really more an ocean update than a cave update.

4. No one mines anymore

I will dive into why iron, and even diamonds, are next to worthless in the current meta, but we’ll get to that later. For a game that is called Minecraft, most people do very little mining. You have a very small percentage of the community who is happy strip mining all day into stone, a much larger portion who really only enjoy caving (and only when they have to), and a vast majority who simply don’t like mining at all.

Steve mining diamond in a cave

I genuinely think this one isn’t all Mojang’s fault. I’d argue that a big cause around the sentiment of people disliking mining isn’t just boring caves, but also the huge number of current players who grew to love Minecraft through survival-adjacent gameplay. Think about it: If you grew up playing on OP Factions, economy, and minigame servers galore, mining some ores might not have the same appeal.

Even on strictly vanilla SMPs, when you have other people to interact with, the possibilities of things you can do goes up exponentially. Why go mining when you can do a group build with a few friends and make awesome farm of some kind? So what this tends to lead to, is the only people who do a lot of mining, tend to be people who enjoy pure-vanilla single player gameplay.

5. The overworld has not received a new ore/mineral recently

The Nether has quartz ore, which is invaluable for redstone components, and if you are lacking a villager trading hall, can be a decent enough source for decorating with quartz blocks as well. Additionally, the Nether just gained new precious materials: Nether gold ore, and ancient debris.

The 1.16 Nether Update screenshots

Since netherite is the new best-in-slot for everything, and there is no other way to obtain it, there is a lot of incentive to mine it. Do you need quartz crystals for crafting into redstone? Well, that can also only be obtained through mining in the Nether. Even gold in the nether has a pretty high incentive to mine since it is very common, highly accessible, and can be used for bartering.

The overworld in stark contrast, has no ores/minerals that are comparable in the same way. We don’t need a new best-in-slot like netherite for the overworld, but we really need something uniquely useful, similar to quartz.

6. Iron is worthless

Pretty much as long as villagers have been a thing, iron farms have as well. Though they have changed a lot over the years, most recently with the Village & Pillage update, they have always stuck around. The Iron Foundry, the Iron Titan, the Iron Trench, and many more were all designed with one goal: to make iron as rare as dirt.

The Iron Titan thumbnail by TangoTek

There have been times when iron farm rates on certain editions of the game (*cough* Bedrock *cough*) were so bad that caving was actually faster. However those times are long behind us, and the community has been clear with Mojang that we don’t want iron farms going anywhere.

While iron farms are great for automation, they have the unfortunate side effect of making one of the few ores unique to the overworld… pretty much entirely worthless to mine.

7. Diamond are more worthless

Now time for the controversial opinion: Diamonds are even more worthless than iron.

Now I know what you’re thinking. “Holy sh*t, Ethan’s fully lost it” but hear me out. I’m not claiming that diamond gear is bad by any means. Diamond weapons, tools, and armor will always have a place. However I do think diamond ores are fairly worthless.

If you are still crafting diamond gear yourself, you are on all levels except physical, a boomer.

Since villagers were introduced, and much more so since the Village & Pillage update, diamond gear has never been easier to obtain. If you are still crafting diamond gear yourself, you are on all levels except physical, a boomer. With a properly setup villager trading hall you can obtain any single piece of diamond gear in the game, with an enchantment on it as a bonus, for just a single emerald.

Example of villager trading

This essentially means the only real value/use diamonds have in the current meta is as a “money” on pure-vanilla SMPs (like we do on Evercraft), where they can act as a non-manipulable currency due to their intrinsic rarity.

What do you think?

That concludes this list of 7 Reasons We Need a Cave Update for 1.17! Are there any you think I missed, or maybe one you disagree with? Let me know down in the comments!