During their recent Minecraft Live presentation, Mojang introduced quite a lot of new blocks, features, and mobs (hello, axolotls) coming in the Caves & Cliffs update next summer. Among them is this horrible beastie, The Warden, who will live down in the Deep Dark cave biomes. Wardens have oodles of health and can slap you in the face for massive damage, so I know there are confident adventurers out there thinking "yeah, I'm going to kill it". During a new Q&A session about the update, Mojang say they would rather you didn't, or at least that they won't encourage you to.
Mojang addressed a bunch of questions from players about the update in this new video, the answers to many of which boiled down to "we can't say yet" or "maybe, but we won't commit to it." They did have a decent chunk to say about the giant, scary Wardens though. As a refresher, these frightening hulks will live down in the darkest parts of caves where instead of using eyes to see they sense vibrations with the antennae on their heads.
When asked about whether the name "Warden" implied they were guarding something special, Mojang's Brandon Pearce says that they aren't necessarily protecting something but that there will be lots of chests and loot in the Deep Dark biomes where they live. You're meant to snatch the loot, but not defeat the local predators.
"The Warden is not a boss," Pearce says. "It's more like a natural disaster. When you have a tornado barreling towards you, you don't try to swing a sword at a tornado. You try to run away from it." During their reveal stream, Mojang had hinted at this sort of survival horror vibe they wanted to resurrect with the Wardens.
"With this mob we really wanted to make sure that we recapture that feeling of the first night of Minecraft," Pearce said then. "We can often forget that Minecraft can be a pretty scary game, so we wanted to make sure that we go back to that." It's been a several years now, but yeah. I do remember some of my earliest days in Minecraft involving running away from zombies and skeletons rather than facing them head on the way we're all emboldened to now.
To further push the fruitless nature of facing a Warden directly, Pearce says that it may not even drop any loot if you kill it, though that hasn't been completely decided yet. Instead, Pearce mentions the possibility of a trophy item to show your conquest over a Warden without incentivising players to go hunt them for resources. It would be a feat worth celebrating because yikes the Warden showcased in Mojang's reveal stream dished out some serious damage.
Aside from all the Warden details in the Q&A, Mojang gave some other Caves & Cliffs update answers. You won't be able to ride the goats, sadly. Mojang are also apparently "looking into" raising the maximum build height above the current 255 block limit. It was lower in the past even, but raising the cap again does invite potential performance concerns, they say.
Mojang haven't set a specific date for the Caves & Cliffs update but they are planning to release it in summer 2021.