The world of Minecraft has become a little more alive this week with the launch of the Village & Pillage update. It gives villagers new jobs, creates new styles of village, whacks in a Bamboo Jungle biome, unleashes pandas, arms us with a crossbow, and adds a pillager faction with their own bases who'll raid villages unless we fend them off. Some parts of all this have already come at different times to some versions of Minecraft but now the full update is live for both the Java and Windows 10 editions.
First, the 'Village' part. Villages and their inhabitants become more distinct, with new styles of architecture and fashion in some biomes. Villagers now follow daily routines, going to their job station during the day (wearing an outfit fitting their work) then returning home and sleeping in bed at night. They can also have the new professions of Mason and, er, Nitwit. Their pathfinding is better too, so even a Nitwit shouldn't get so confused by obstacles. Villages will occasionally be visited by the new Wandering Trader NPC, who comes from afar with goods from exotic biomes and two llama pals. And you might want to build the new Bell item, which sends nearby villagers scurrying into their homes. That'll be handy when the 'Pillage' comes into play.
The pillagers are a new human NPC faction who roam around and have bases in towers too. If we kill one of their Illager Captains (yes, villagers, pillagers, and illagers) then, the next time you enter a village, the pillagers will follow to attack. They'll come in waves, complete with their stimping great warbeasts. Beat 'em back and hey, you get a big discount from local traders.
That's a whole lot more village life. Sure, mods have added plenty of NPC life to Minecraft before, but having these in the base game means everyone benefits. Once they update. Which some may not do for a while, until all their mods are updated too. Or if they want to make their server into a permahell.
Also, PANDAS AND FOXES.
The Village & Pillage update isn't identical for the original Java and remade Windows 10 'Bedrock' editions, with some parts already in one version or the other. For more (and more-specific) details, see the separate Java and Bedrock patch notes.
The update's launch trailer shows the general idea of some of the new features, though it very much is not the actual game. The real villagers don't even dance, for shame.
Disclosure: Our weekend editor, Jay Castello, sometimes writes for Minecraft's website.