No More Click-Click-Click: Minecraft’s Combat Changes

Minecraft [official site] has added an awful lot over the years, but the fundamentals were mostly settled years ago. Now, Mojang are finally having a crack at improving its combat, and yesterday the developers released a test ‘snapshot’ build from version 1.9, showing their first crack at reworking fisticuffs. They’re kicking it off by introducing an attacking charging system, which means an end to click-click-click-click-click-clicking.

The Snapshot 15w34a changelog explains that holding attack charges up a power meter to increase the damage dealt. This makes timing attacks and dodges far more important, making combat more dynamic and interesting. Reddit user ‘Mr_Simba’ notes that, under the new system, it can take 22 uncharged spammy iron sword hits to kill a zombie but only four charged hits.

It sounds like needing to charge and dodge might make combat far more interesting. I witnessed a Minecraft ‘Hunger Games’ PvP tournament at Eurogamer’s Rezzed convention once, and was surprised to see it mostly involved folks chasing each other, swinging swords as fast as they could.

However, Mojang do say that the combat changes in this snapshot build “are completely not final nor balanced at all in the absolute slightest not even a little bit really honestly seriously.” They say, “We welcome all feedback, but please remember that nothing is yet balanced and the mechanics themselves are subject to change and redesign.” I wonder which fight-things they’ll poke at next.

If you’re more into building and programming than fighting, the snapshot also expands command blocks.

This is all experimental, so only download it if you’re prepared for a little wonk. Mojang are evidently still a fair while off properly releasing version 1.9.


  1. kulik says:

    I want a Mount and blade type of combat mechanics. :)

    • zephyri says:

      So, kulik, you want the naked guy with the big sword to beat everyone else? I don’t think it would add to the combat mechanics much.

    • Spacewalk says:

      I want a less dodge-happy implementation of Shadow Warrior 2013’s melee.

  2. Sic says:

    The best MC version is still one of the earlier beta versions (just after multiplayer was added).

    The whole appeal was the simplicity of it. Being alone. Exploring. Creating. NPC’s was a horrible idea. Villages the same.

    The experience has become cluttered.

    At least that was my impression the last time I tried it (quite a few versions ago). I’m totally out of the loop at this point, but I can’t imagine the game has gone in any interesting direction.

    • eightohnine says:

      I know where you’re coming from, but arguably only a minority of players actually use vanilla MC. It’s all about custom adventure maps (thanks to mods and command blocks), parkouring, megabuilds, ultracomplex redstone contraptions and a gazillion of mods that allow you to tweak MCs complexity, appearance and mood to your heart’s content. It’s silly popular amongst the youngens and has become the proverbial “Digital Lego”.

      I’d definitely give it another look-see if you find the time.

    • blondebond4 says:

      Exactly! They are just adding features for the sake of adding features, the game was great but it was forced to evolve into some over complicated mess. All the Multiplayer stuff is awful, Hunger Games and Survival Islands have ruined the game, it should just be about you and friends surviving and building.

      • Kiytan says:

        I’d recommend trying the TerraFirmaCraft mod, it’s sort of set in an stone/bronze/iron age setting, and makes survival way more interesting and difficult – it takes actual effort to survive, not just plop down some instantly gatherable wheat and be done with it.
        (it does suffer from that general MC problem of needing to read/watch some tutorials first though)

    • Clavus says:

      The adventure update in the beta is where it started for me. I don’t think the whole enchanting and potion mechanics really fit Minecraft, I preferred a more grounded approach. Luckily they didn’t focus on that a lot afterwards, the new blocks (banners etc) and animals are quite nice additions.

      But in the end this game should have had a proper mod API ages ago so a sustainable modding scene could be build around it, instead of everything breaking every update. Mods that aren’t actively maintained instantly become unusable.

      • Telkir says:

        I’m in the same boat in that I used to have more fun with the game back at the time it was much less complicated. I have barely any interest in enchanting and none at all in making potions. I want Mojang to consider improvement to the main feature of the game – the blocks – such as by somehow delinking the shape of a block from its texture, so that e.g. if you wanted to build a fence, you could build it from stone, quartz, iron, gold… something a little like Landmark, except with chunkier voxels. Sadly though at this stage it’s unlikely to happen.

        Also 100% agree that Mojang’s abject failure to get an official modding API into the game in a timely manner is an eternal frustration. I run a Spigot-based server and I dread the release of new Minecraft versions because I know it’s going to be hit-and-miss for which of our important plugins are going to get updated.

    • horsemedic says:

      Beds killed it for me. The best thing about Minecraft beta was the dynamic where exploring deeper meant finding more valuable goodies, but also more chance of losing your stash in the mouth of Hell. All my favorite Minecraft memories involve being lost in a cave, trying to figure out where the skeleton rattle was coming from. And having to create a safe path from your spawn point to your base five small continents away gave the game just enough purpose, for me.

      Then came beds, and death meant nothing. Then stackable food killed whatever tension was left in spelunking. I stopped playing before EXP points and Heaven and whatever other crap they poured in after that.

    • Kefren says:

      I stopped playing when the hunger mechanic came in. I would see my health dropping down to one all the time, when the slightest fall would kill me. It was no fun at all. Apparently I could switch it off, but it would also switch of all monsters or something, which also took away the fun. I gave away my Minecraft account shortly after.

      • WarOnGamesIndustry says:

        that’s when I started losing interest in survival. I still play creative every once and while but the game part of minecraft is just a huge mess now.

    • fish99 says:

      For me it was best just around when wolves were added, I think that was beta 1.6.4 or something like that. They rushed a load of features into the game for the official 1.0 version around when the first Minecon happened and they were pretty universally awful.

      Biomes were supposed to add variety, but inside each biome the world was actually very uniform and dull, and a lot of the colour was lost. Blocking meant creepers could barely hurt you anymore, you could just stand there and take the hit. Double forward for run was just awkward. And the game never needed an ending, that was missing the point of the game entirely.

    • Wisq says:

      To add yet another opinion to this thread: I actually like all the changes they’ve made. They could be better, but none of them has actively made the game worse for me.

      The hunger mechanic is easily dealt with via (crop) farming, and later, mob farming. Especially once I start farming cows for their leather or chickens for eggs and feathers, meat becomes so plentiful that we carry around stacks of 64 and never run out.

      Beds were a great addition, allowing you to actually have more than one (effective) base, and actually choose where to put it rather than being limited to “right next to the spawn point”. They also let you avoid the tedium of waiting for daylight.

      Enchanting and potions — yeah, okay, I don’t actually use those a lot. But that’s mostly because I use mod packs that replace it with tech stuff (e.g. IndustrialCraft’s chainsaw and drill), or magic stuff (e.g. Thaumcraft’s tools and weapons), or just better vanilla-esque stuff (e.g. Tinkers Construct’s upgradable, repairable tools).

      The lack of an official modding API hasn’t really mattered much to me since the modpacks came along. Having someone else do all the integration, testing, and distribution is definitely the way to go, IMO.

      My only complaints about the state of the game at the moment is that biomes and villages don’t mean much. Anything can grow anywhere if you plant it yourself, meaning that once you find a biome once and harvest what it has to offer, it becomes meaningless. And villages offer some early resources and a bit of trading, but nothing to actually warrant going out and finding more of them.

    • PseudoKnight says:

      Vanilla survival MC is not cluttered. It’s still pretty simple compared to most games of its type. What people seem to forget is that MC is primarily about creation, and is generally a crappy survival game after the first day. Thanks to custom maps, though, you can have some pretty great survival experiences — things created by other players.

      All that said, you can go back and play those early builds really easily with the new Minecraft launcher and there’s some rare servers that do so. Go back and play Super Hostile maps on Beta 1.7.3 to have some good times.

    • Spakkenkhrist says:

      I remember when this was all blocks.

  3. Rob Lang says:

    Been playing most weeks on a shared server since Alpha v1.2.1_01 (Nov 2010). We play vanilla survival and like to build and fight. I don’t bother with potions but like enchanting. I’m looking forward to combat being more of a challenge.

    I agree with Clavus that
    But in the end this game should have had a proper mod API ages ago so a sustainable modding scene could be build around it, instead of everything breaking every update. Mods that aren’t actively maintained instantly become unusable.

    This is the reason we don’t really use mods. As a programmer, I’d rather like to create my own but without a stable API, I don’t think the effort is worth it.

  4. Mrice says:

    A lot of people seem to have stopped playing minecraft at one point or another. All with different updates that added features that ruined the exsperiance for them

    For me personally i stopped playing the game after the hunger update. Survival in minecraft was never much of a challenge so i liked the way that food was used as a health item. When they changed it to this constant depreciating meter it became incredibly tedious for me.

    I never found hunger challenging. You can “beat” that entire mechanic inside of the first five minutes by walking to the shore, stamping out a line of dirt into the ocean, smacking some grass for seeds, and turning that big row of dirt into a farm. So from then on you just need to keep track of this little ticking bar forever and if you stop to do something else it punishes you. REALLY tedious.

    There is also the big focus on combat and exploration which was never my “thing”, i liked the build, i wanted more building, more game justification to build, more facility to build, but adding in that constant line of tedium just made it unplayable for me.

    • Mollusc Infestation says:

      I concur regarding the “hunger” system. It always felt like an unfinished idea which was implemented and then never developed. I dislike the arbitrary point at which health regeneration stops, since it essentially encourages you to eat every 30 seconds to keep your seemingly rampant hunger at bay. And that awful polystyrene chewing sound!

      • Mollusc Infestation says:

        I would add though, the combat system always felt the same, a system which was implemented and then never completed. I’m glad that they’re actually doing something to improve on an insubstantial base mechanic rather than adding tameable walruses or whatever else they happen to think of.

      • Wisq says:

        First personal sound pack I made was to replace the chewing sound with the TF2 Heavy going “om, nom nom”.

    • TheAngriestHobo says:

      Hunger mechanics are rarely well-implemented in games. Usually, one of two issues crops up: food is far too easy to find and/or accumulate (vanilla Minecraft, FO:NV, etc) , or it’s far too rare, forcing the player to spend 90% of their time in a frenzied search for more (Don’t Starve, Subnautica, etc).

      One of the most balanced “needs” systems I’ve encountered is in The Long Dark. The beauty of TLD’s system is that it gives you plentiful stocks of food in the form of abandoned homes, but they tend to be separated by stretches of deadly wasteland, and you have very limited inventory space. So it’s not the acquisition of food that is the danger, it’s making what you’re carrying last until the next time you can re-stock your supplies.

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        I’ve got food coming out of my ears in Don’t Starve, you’re playing it wrong… The idea is not to starve, you see?

        The Long Dark is the game I’m currently playing the most but you need far too many calories to avoid starvation. It’s not that there isn’t a plentiful supply of deer/wolves/rabbits but it gets tedious. Maybe the current balance is necessary for story mode though, unless you’ve already gone to nature, the need to find more food does succeed in driving your exploration efforts.

    • PseudoKnight says:

      I found the hunger system far less tedious than keeping non-stackable food in my inventory to fix every bit of damage. Maybe you were just eating watermelon or something, which doesn’t satiate you much. Or you were looking for a reason to quit, which is fair enough.

      You can still play those versions by selecting it in the launcher, and there’s a lot of custom maps for those versions to try out — even a few servers.

  5. Urthman says:

    I feel like the primary game mechanics of Minecraft involve cowering in terror in a tiny walled-off cave your first night, then slowly expanding a perimeter of safety through a combination of building fortresses and creeping through caves and placing torches to claim safe, explored territory. For me, armor and weapons were a last resort for when I screwed something up in the main gameplay of digging, exploring, building, and illuminating.

  6. Howard says:

    I have to say, I am confused. Is this version developed by Mojang of the one on Windows 10 going to be the “main” version going forward? I got the impression once MS had bought out MC, that they would be running the show. Is that not the case?

    • Urthman says:

      Microsoft bought the entire Mojang studio like they’ve done with other studios like Rare.

    • Premium User Badge

      Aerothorn says:

      In short: it’s complicated.

      On one hand, Microsoft is letting development of Minecraft (Java version) for all platforms continue unimpeded, and as far as anyone can tell isn’t really monkeying with it.

      On the other hand, they’ve taken the portable edition (C++ edition), called it Minecraft Windows 10 edition, and are developing that.

      There is an as-yet-unproven suspicion among many that once the Windows 10 version has all the features of the Java version, THEN Microsoft may halt development of the Java version and make Minecraft exclusive to Microsoft platforms. I’m not entirely convinced of this, but it could theoretically happen.

  7. giei says:

    Any chance to abandon the java platform?

  8. Kempston Wiggler says:

    If you’re not into the creative side of things, and not willing to invest time and energy in finding/installing/testing mods, then Minecraft rapidly grows into an agony of repetition. While the initial experiences are novel they soon become rote; there’s just not enough variation to keep a player interested; a Creeper moves and attacks the same way it’s always moved and attacked. And the curse of all these survival games – once you’ve ascended the tech tree once, why do it again? What’s your motivation?

    I keep Minecraft around for nostalgia these days, to remind me of what I built. Seems sad, really.

  9. Chaoslord AJ says:

    Most mod packs come with tinker’s construct or combat mods anyway so there is almost always a great variety when fighting.
    Grinding through Blightfall at the moment such a great pack.

  10. geldonyetich says:

    This is a relatively safe upgrade for them to do because the modding scene has already established this system works and works well.

    Specifically speaking, if you look at Curse’s #1 “RPG” mod right now, it’s “Mine & Blade: Battlegear 2.” What does that mod do? It adds shields and duel wielding, just like this next snapshot does.

    Okay, so the Mojang implementation isn’t identical to Mine & Blade, and nor should it be, but I think they’re probably entitled to cherry pick from the best mods the community makes and include them in the base game.

    I also think they should probably focus more on growing villages, heralding back to the “3D Dwarf Fortress” idea Notch originally had. It would garner a better overall end game focus than just killing dragons and withers for cosmetic beacon blocks.

  11. Eawyne says:

    I know this has not that much to do with the subject, but are there other people that have trouble playing the game ? My problem is that I can’t log to the game anymore. I migrated to their Mojan account thingie, but now, I’m out. I can’t even get to sign on the effing website !? Contact Mojang has proved ineffective so far. Anyone got a clue on how what’s wrong ?

  12. rexx.sabotage says:

    yeah know, unless you enjoy yelling at clouds for the sake of it, you can select and play whatever past version of Minecraft you enjoyed right from the launcher.

  13. alms says:

    I am kind of surprised by all the ‘I stopped playing when they added…’ comments, given that the launcher lets you select whatever version you’d like to play, if I’m not mistaken?

    It’s not like they took the game you loved away from you.

    • Barberetti says:

      You’re not mistaken. Even before the new launcher, it was trivially simple to just back up entire versions of Minecraft that you liked, then just swap them out depending on what version you’re in the mood for playing at any given time. I keep my original alpha version, and a copy of beta 1.7 for when I’m in the mood for some old style Minecraft.

      For me, the game finally went too far in a direction I didn’t like around v1.5, so I just stopped upgrading at that point. I’m currently modding out that version and removing the ability to enchant and brew potions. The only way to get enchanted goodies and potions will be loot drops from mobs, and chests. I’m merging/modifying a dungeon mod and a beta terrain generator, and making some other changes to the base game as well. Once done, if you want decent loot, you’ll have to explore to get it.

      I’m also toying with the idea of revamping the Nether, because for a long time now it’s been safer in there than in the normal world, which is fucking stupid.

  14. lordfrikk says:

    I hate to be a naysayer but the charge combat sounds more annoying than interesting. Also, the number hits should be toned way down for a basic enemy like zombie (22 uncharged and 4 charged to 5 uncharged and 1 or 2 charged).

    • Chaz says:

      Yeah, it sounds quite annoying to me too. It’s all very well changing the combat mechanic a bit to something a little more sophisticated, but if the mob behavior is still the same old simplistic run at you biff biff biff, then what’s the point?

  15. MellowKrogoth says:

    The problem with Minecraft is that nobody likes it for the same reason.