Minecraft update 1.21 has been revealed, and well, looks like Mojang have been reading my posts demanding the addition of a proper maze generator, those sneaky devils. As explained by Minecraft game director Agnes Larsson, the forthcoming Minecraft update – which has yet to be given a release date – is designed to “focus more on combat adventures and on tinkering” than last year's Cave & Cliffs update.
The headline addition is an underground structure called the Trial Chamber, a procedurally generated cluster of traps and treasure rooms, fashioned from copper and tuff blocks and arranged around a central hallway. From the Minecraft Live footage this weekend, Trial Chambers look like an evolution of the game's old buried fortresses, with some nifty new flourishes in the shape of copper bulb blocks that slowly give off less and less light, and new Trial Spawners, which generate a certain number of hostile mobs based on things like the number of players in your party.
The Trial Chamber isn't explicitly described as a maze generator, in fairness, but it sure looks mazey, with scattered traps and multiple elevations linked by spiral stairs and see-through floor grills. From what I've glimpsed of Minecraft update 1.21 gameplay, the tuff-and-copper aesthetic is appealing but also regular to the point of being purposefully confusing. Player navigation is at once helped and hindered by the new copper bulbs, which save you having to bring a torch, but also slowly dim as they oxidise. You'll need to scrape off the oxidised layer periodically to restore them to full brightness.
You'll also have to worry about a new mob, the Breeze, which hovers about like a Ghast, but shoots wind bullets instead of exploding fireballs. These projectiles do a bit of area damage while also knocking back characters and activating things like redstone contraptions. You can see how they'd be a nuisance in rooms full of traps.
More interested in building than plundering dungeons? Fear not. New structures aside, the update introduces crafter blocks, which as the name suggests, can be set to automatically craft certain recipes and will surely lead to ever-more terrifying feats of Minecraft industrialisation. The user interface appears pretty simple from the footage: you just pick the recipe and drop the ingredients into the crafter inventory. Or better, set up redstone circuits, dispensers and so on to seamlessly ferry raw materials to the crafter while you gad about murdering Breezes. It's the kind of thing Minecraft players have hitherto had to rely on Minecraft mods to provide.
The big question is, will all this smooth the ruffled feathers of those players who took up arms against the Minecraft Mob Vote last week, berating Mojang for not adding enough to the game? The associated petition now has half-a-million signatories, but the Mob Vote - an annual ceremony in which Mojang asks players to choose which of three mobs they'll add to the game next - went ahead as scheduled, with the Armadillo emerging supreme over the Penguin and the Crab.
Mojang made no mention of the uproar during the Minecraft Live 2023 stream, but chief content officer Vu Bui did hint that the losing mobs might eventually appear in Minecraft. "Remember, our little Frog friends didn't win the vote either, but they still managed to hop their way into the game," he said, referring to the Biome Vote of 2018.
There's a ripe old tradition of hand-crafting mazes in Minecraft, many of them featured on the maze subreddit, and those wily mod-makers have, of course, put together some maze generators of their own. One that catches my eye is MightyOne's Tangled Maze generator, which can be used to generate mazes across hilly terrain and pick between roofed or open-air mazes, amongst other things. Here are shots of a couple of Minecraft maps the creator has made with it. Cor!