Minecraft 1.17 update – everything we know about Caves and Cliffs

Minecraft 1.17 update – everything we know about Caves and Cliffs

Looking forward to the release of Minecraft update 1.17? For years, Minecraft players have been asking for a big update to the rather bland underground areas – you may know them as caves. They’ve not really changed all that much since vanilla Minecraft launched over a decade ago, while new biomes have been added constantly to the game. So it was hugely exciting to get confirmation of the Minecraft Caves & Cliffs update.

While the cliffs do get new snow effects, powder snow blocks, and goats, the really fascinating stuff that’s being added is all found beneath the surface. All you’ll need to do to find these new areas is tunnel downwards. Three new underground biomes were discussed during this year’s Minecraft Live presentation, filled with new plants to harvest, new materials to gather, and new Minecraft mobs to encounter.

Yes, Minecraft Caves & Cliffs does add a terrifying-sounding monster, but it also gives players not one, but two potential best friend mobs that can help them take down pesky enemies. Here is everything you can look forward to when Minecraft 1.17 goes live.

Minecraft Caves & Cliffs release date

The Minecraft Caves & Cliffs release date has been split, with the first part arriving Summer 2021 and the second set for the holiday season, for both the Windows 10 and Java Editions. It was first announced during this year’s Minecraft Live presentation.

So what exactly do we mean by the “release date has been split”? Well it turns out that some things were easier to implement than others, so rather than delay the entire update to much later on, 1.17 is having two big updates. Here is what you can expect in the two time frames:

  • Summer update: New mobs like the goats and axolotls, and building blocks like dripleaf, and deepslate. The new items for copper are also coming here.
  • Holiday update: Anything to do with world generation: new caves/mountains, placing of new biomes and world height. Mojang is also trying to get this update to work with all existing Minecraft worlds.

There is one more feature that’s being delayed even further down the line, and that’s archaeology. As explained by vanilla game director Agnes Larson, Mojang wants to give it more time for development as it’s a brand new system and above all else “Minecrafty”.

The Lush Caves are home to several plants, including berries growing on vines and large pink flowers that emit particles from the ceiling.

Minecraft Caves & Cliffs update Biomes

Noise caves

Noise caves are new types of caves that can be generated underground – they come in two varieties: cheese and spaghetti. Cheese caves have wide open areas filled with stone pillars, and spaghetti caves are long, narrow, and winding. Caves can also contain aquifers, flooded cave systems with an abundance of ores within.

Lush Caves

This cave system is filled with vines, fruit, and flowers that hang from the ceilings. They are inspired by paintings by Swedish painter John Bauer, whose work regularly depicts people walking through huge woodland areas.

To find a Lush Cave, you can try to find Azalea trees on the surface. These can indicate that there are Lush Caves below that you can mine into and explore.

The Lush Caves are covered in new flora. The aforementioned Azalea plants come in both flowering and non-flowering forms, but will turn the dirt into rooted dirt. This is important as rooted dirt has a chance to spawn hanging roots underneath them, which you can harvest.

Spore Blossoms are pink flowers on the roof and they drop particles. Mojang didn’t say if these particles do anything, but it did say that the Spore Blossoms can be moved to ceilings elsewhere. Moss also grows in the Lush Caves, and is available in block form or as tiles.

There are also vines that grow within the Lush Caves with orange berries. These are glow berries which can be picked and eaten, filling a small amount of the hunger meter. However, it’s possibly better to leave them on vines as they provide a natural light on their own. As the vines grow, there is a small chance that they will grow a glow berry on the next segment down.

The last new plant is the Dripleaf plant and could be handy for those wanting to construct a jungle-themed obstacle course. Their leaves can be jumped on, but the leaf will droop the longer you stand on them. You will eventually fall through it, but thankfully this won’t cause any permanent damage to the plant as the leaves do recover fully.

You can only plant the small dripleaf plants on clay or dirt that is underwater. Once they’re fully grown (either naturally or using bone meal to speed up the process), you can harvest the big dripleaves that can be placed anywhere.

The Dripstone Caves are filled with lava and water pools. Several stalactites and stalagmites can be seen in the distance.

Dripstone caves and the deep dark biome

Stalagmites and stalactites are what make this new biome stand out. Destroy the blocks at the top of the stalactites to drop the rest from above. Stalagmites act like spikes and can hurt friends and foes alike. Stalactites also drip water, so you can use a bucket to collect the water. This gives you a renewable source of water.

You are able to combine multiple stalagmites and stalactites to make them as long as you can imagine. Stalactites will not only drip water, but they are also able to drip lava, which can be collected in a cauldron below, just in case you need it for later. It’s also noted that, if you were to throw a trident at a pointed dripstone, the dripstone will break.

Throughout the Minecraft Live presentation, Mojang has hinted at a third new biome called the “Deep Dark”, along with some of the items and mobs found within, but it hasn’t talked about the biome itself in depth.

A swimmer and a fleet of Axolotls are destroying an enemy underwater.

Minecraft caves & Cliffs mobs


Found in the Lush Caves, Minecraft’s Axolotls are found underwater and, well, just look at them. They’re utterly adorable aren’t they? These are real creatures that are relatives of the cave salamander. They have the cutest yawns too.

In Minecraft, these vicious predators are your best friends for underwater adventures. Just scoop up as many as you can in buckets and deploy a large number of Axolotls to help with exploring underwater caves. They will attack enemies on sight, play dead to recover health, and overwhelm more powerful foes with sheer numbers, because why wouldn’t you want your own Axolotl army?

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It’s not just caves that are getting new mobs. Minecraft goats appear in the cliff areas and jump really high, two full blocks to be precise! Goats are rather fickle beasts though and if you annoy them enough, they’ll bash into you and send you flying off the snowy mountains. You can milk them and there’s even a small chance that these goats will be screaming goats (with slightly different sounds).

When Goats ram into a block, there’s a chance they’ll drop a Goat Horn, which you can pick up and use to generate the same trumpeting blare you hear at the start of a raid. This may have further consequences – we’ll let you know when we find out more.

The Warden is charging towards the player. It has a horned helmet, a sad-looking expression on its visor, and a glowing orb in its torso. The orb indicates that it knows where the player is.


This new mob aims to take players back to their first night in Minecraft, when everything was scary. The Minecraft Warden is found in the Deep Dark biome, and its only aim is to make you pee your pants. They can be found deep in the dark underground areas and are considered a hostile monster mob.

Wardens are completely blind, but they react to vibrations from footsteps and thrown objects. Snowballs can distract the warden as it detects the vibration of the snowball’s impact. They can make the screen go dark briefly when one is nearby, though Sculk Sensors – another new block type – also react to their presence.

Should you come across one, you can try to sneak around it, but you’ll need to be very careful. If it knows where you are, the light in the centre lights up when it’s chasing you, it’ll run quite quickly and can thump you for a lot of health. It’s worth noting that damage taken from the Warden ignores armour, so it’s best to go in prepared. Who knows, maybe the trident will be an effective weapon to use against it.

The Amethyst cave with several crystals growing in specific spots.

Minecraft Caves & Cliffs new blocks

Crystal and Amethyst geodes

In rare circumstances, caves can lead to Amethyst geodes. Walking on crystals emits a sound effect that sounds like a wind-chime.

You can break the crystal plants, but you can’t take the specific blocks that crystals grow on. The puzzle will be working out a network of harvesting the crystals at the source efficiently. Crystals have uses in making items, namely in making the new Telescope, which you can use to zoom in on details from far away.

The roof of a house that is made with a copper roof. Several blocks are oxidising.


Telescopes also require Copper, a new resource. They are similar to iron but have an orange hue to the ores. They are found in ore veins rather than blobs, can be used like Iron to make blocks and steps, and Copper ages over time as it is exposed to oxygen, taking on a turquoise colour instead of browny orange.

Related: Here’s how to take part in Minecraft beta builds

Copper can also be used to make lightning rods. These are used to direct lightning to the poles instead of more flammable materials. You’ll probably need to use a blast furnace to melt the copper ingots into usable materials.

Candles and Candle cakes

You can light up the darkness with Candles in the 1.17 update – crafted from string and honeycomb, they can be dyed a variety of colours, and – of course – popped on top of a cake to celebrate someone’s birthday.


Crafted from an amethyst shard and copper ingots, it allows the player to zoom in on specific locations for a closer look.

The inventory screen, showing off bundles. This bundle has many types of flowers.

Minecraft Caves & Cliffs new features


Finally, there are three awesome new features coming to Minecraft via the Caves & Cliffs update. One of these is the new bundles feature, which is designed to help with inventory management.

You’ll be able to create bags where you can place as many items inside as you can fit. Their overall capacity is unknown at this time, but it seems like it could be several full inventory slots full. Bundles can be stored in chests and you can mix-and-match.

A large amount of Sculk. It's a black and teal coloured substance that acts a lot like redstone, but can be activated remotely with special Sculk Sensor blocks.

Sculk blocks and wireless redstone

One of the Deep Dark biome’s characteristics is that it is where Sculk Growths are normally found. It’s a new redstone-like power source, but is the key for finally introducing us to the wireless activation of redstone powered gadgets.

If a Sculk Sensor detects footsteps, or destroy/place a block, it will emit a new redstone signal. These can be used to operate gadgets without a trail of redstone connecting the two.

You can use wool to prevent the signal passing through too, meaning that you can ensure that the trigger only activates the signal between Sculk signals and contraptions. The possibilities for wireless redstone in constructing city builds or colossal Minecraft castles are nigh-on endless!

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This is probably the coolest new addition. Around the surface, there are excavation sites that will appear. These have chests that contain brushes. You can then use the brushes within the dig sites themselves, or make them yourselves with certain materials, to brush away at certain blocks, like gravel and dirt.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Hidden treasures are just waiting to be found. But there is a big catch. If you are careless and don’t fully uncover the artefact before moving on, you’ll risk destroying it and losing it forever. If you are careful though, you can excavate priceless artefacts or rare blocks, such as a Blue Ceramic Shard with some art on it or a block of emerald.

Read more: Here are some cool Minecraft house ideas

Ceramic shards can be used to reconstruct pots by placing them on templates over fire pits. Once you’re happy with their design, you can fire up the pit underneath them with some flint and steel to complete the pot.

Minecraft 1.17 beta release date

If you own the Bedrock edition of Minecraft, you can now play the beta, although only the first phase of new features are available including goats and the powdery snow. Find out how to play Minecraft Beta snapshots in both Java and Bedrock editions, by following the steps outlined in our guide.

There are important differences between both versions, and it seems that the Java edition is slightly ahead. The most recent update is the Caves & Cliffs snapshot 21w14a, that makes important changes to iron, copper, and gold. Now these blocks generate raw minerals when mined, putting it in line with coal and diamonds. If you’re a purist and like how the ore blocks look, you can still collect the ore blocks by using the Silk Touch Minecraft enchantments.

Snapshot 21w06a introduced the brand new cave system – so you can now explore those cheese and spaghetti caves yourself, and go diving for Minecraft diamond in an aquifer. Previous snapshots added Minecraft copper, bundles, powder snow, lush cave blocks, glow squids, axolotls, and dripstone caves.

And that is everything we know about the upcoming Minecraft Caves & Cliffs update. Some exciting new areas to explore and one terrifying monster to face. It’s certainly best to come in prepared, even if Netherite weapons and armour don’t do much against wardens.

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