As Minecraft 1.19 "The Wild Update" releases, Mojang Studios discusses new features, development process, and more

Hero art for Minecraft's The Wild Update.
(Image credit: Mojang Studios | Twitter)

The moment Minecraft players all around the world have been waiting for has finally arrived. After months of active development, feature tweaks and alterations, and a whole lot of bug squashing, Minecraft 1.19 "The Wild Update" is beginning to roll out across platforms for Minecraft: Bedrock Edition and Minecraft: Java Edition.

The Wild Update can't be counted among the most ambitious or feature-packed Minecraft content updates, but it still contains plenty about which to get excited. New biomes, mobs, gameplay mechanics, and quality-of-life improvements are all included in the latest Minecraft release, and players can get their hands on it starting today.

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Mojang Studios' Agnes Larsson, Minecraft Game Director, and Ulraf Vaknin, Minecraft Gameplay Developer, to discuss Minecraft's 1.19 update, the most exciting new feature additions (big and small), and more.

The Wild Update brings tons of new content

Screenshot of Minecraft 1.19 "The Wild Update."

(Image credit: Mojang Studios)

The 1.19 content update for Minecraft focuses on the Overworld dimension with plenty of new content for players to explore and new improvements for players to enjoy. While The Wild Update isn't as wide in scope as its predecessor, the dual-pronged Caves and Cliffs Update, a plethora of fresh features and additions means players will be kept busy until Mojang Studios returns with the next Minecraft content update.

Some of the highlights of Minecraft 1.19 "The Wild Update" include:

  • New biomes: The Wild Update introduces two new biomes to the Overworld with the mangrove swamp and deep dark.
    • Mangrove swamps are a new variant of swamps featuring new mangrove trees, frogs, plenty of mud, and a unique visual design
    • The deep dark is a terrifying biome found deep below Minecraft's surface with new ancient city structures, the powerful warden mob, the sculk block family, and more
  • New mobs: The Wild Update introduces four new mobs to Minecraft with allays, frogs and frogspawn, and wardens.
    • Allays are incredibly helpful companions that love music, and will happily seek out similar items to anything you give it to hold
    • Frogs (and frogspawn or tadpoles) are friendly mobs that love to eat slime and spit out new froglight blocks, and can be found in three different varieties depending on the temperature of the biome in which they live
    • Wardens are powerful boss-like mobs that slumber underground in the deep dark biome, especially around ancient cities. Completely blind, wardens respond to sound, and are equipped with deadly melee attacks and a ranged "sonic boom"
  • New blocks and items: The Wild Update introduces plenty of new blocks and items to Minecraft, including mangrove trees and wood, mud, sculk, and more.
    • Mangrove trees can only be found in mangrove swamps, and feature a unique root system and a new kind of mangrove wood
    • Mud blocks can be found in mangrove swamps, or can be created by using a water bottle on any dirt block. Players can also create an endless supply of clay using mud blocks and pointed dripstone
    • The sculk family of blocks works in tandem with the warden in the deep dark, and detects sounds as vibrations in the air. Sculk blocks give off redstone signals when detecting sound, while sculk shriekers let off a powerful scream
    • Recovery compasses, boats with chest, and other craftable items are being added with The Wild Update, providing various quality-of-life improvements (like being able to find your last death location, or being able to carry more supplies on long journeys)
  • New gameplay features: The Wild Update introduces new gameplay features to accompany its biomes, mobs, and blocks.
    • The ability to turn sound vibrations into redstone signals comes courtesy of sculk blocks, which greatly expands the already impressive possibilities of redstone
    • Ancient city structures provide new challenges to players, as well as exclusive loot and new additions to the enigmatic Minecraft "lore"
    • Allays provide new ways to help automate various Minecraft systems, and to make bases and homes feel more alive

New features, big and small

Screenshot of Minecraft 1.19 "The Wild Update."

(Image credit: Mojang Studios)

"(Minecraft) is a sandbox game. We are adding toys with new functionalities, that you can combine in different ways. Players are so extraordinarily clever and creative, and are always going to make things that we didn't even imagine they could make," Larsson told me during our interview, a stance that broadly reflects the general feel of The Wild Update.

Minecraft's 1.19 release isn't aggressively exciting, but it does greatly improve the foundation upon which Minecraft is built, which prioritizes placing the power in players' capable hands. There are a lot of new feature additions and quality-of-life improvements that span large swathes of the Minecraft community.

"Minecraft is about player stories. We want to inspire the players to tell stories by adding things like ancient cities," Larsson enthused, referring to the various additions in The Wild Update that caters to the explorers and storytellers, like mangrove swamps, boats with chest, and the aforementioned ancient cities.

Redstone engineers, historically highly passionate members of the wider Minecraft community, are getting new features that significantly expand the capabilities of redstone and redstone contraptions. "Imagine ... a control panel that is activated by different things," Vaknin described the possibilities of sculk blocks and "wireless" redstone. "If I eat an item, it does one action in my big system of a base. If I jump, it does another. If I break a block, it does a third."

We want to inspire players to tell stories ...

Agnes Larsson

Clay bricks and terracotta blocks are now more accessible to builders in Survival, thanks to the arrival of mud blocks. A new type of wood contained within mangrove trees and mud bricks give players even more choices with which to construct their dream base (or a mangrove swamp-themed village).

Players will no longer have to panic over an unfortunate death, as long as they have a recovery compass stashed at home to lead them back to their dropped items. Frogs add more to the "life" of Minecraft, giving players another mob to discover (and potentially bring home). They're useful, too, thanks to their propensity for consuming slime and the production of new decorative froglight blocks.

Allays, the winner of the Minecraft Live 2021 mob vote, can add plenty of movement and sound to your home, and help by picking up loose items for you. One of the most interesting additions to Minecraft with The Wild Update is also a lesser-known detail regarding the allay.

"When the allay throws an item, it (has a chance of) playing a random pitched sound ... or it might not," Vaknin said of one of their favorite The Wild Update features. "This creates a randomly generated melody every time the allay starts throwing a stack at you, and ... you hear a pretty slow, calm, and nice melody. If you have four allays together, they actually sync up to create a big melody."

Making Minecraft better

Screenshot of Minecraft 1.19 "The Wild Update."

(Image credit: Mojang Studios)

Minecraft is notorious for involving the Minecraft community in every step of development through Minecraft: Java Edition snapshots and Minecraft Preview, and The Wild Update maintained that tradition. With the help of community feedback and suggestions, as well as internal reviews, Mojang Studios shaped The Wild Update into what it is today.

Many challenges had to be overcome to reach launch day, but one feature, in particular, needed a lot of iteration to make it a truly special addition. "The feature we really had to spend a lot of design time on was the warden, especially to make it interesting for more experienced players ..." Larsson remarked on Minecraft's latest hostile mob.

"Trying to find the right balance of what is too scary for Minecraft, adding this layer of mystery and horror, was really interesting," Vaknin added. "Sneaking as a way to avoid the boss ... is a very new thing for Minecraft."

Players will find the depth we put into these features.

Ulraf Vaknin

Beyond specific feature obstacles, both experienced Mojang Studios members had something to say about what it takes to help Minecraft evolve. "I love doing really small things ... They're not shiny, they're not going to be at the top of the list for anything," Vaknin admitted, calling back to their favorite allay feature. "But over the 50 or more years that we want to build Minecraft ... players will find the depth that we put into these features."

Referring specifically to the addition of sculk blocks and new redstone features, Larsson had a lot to say. "One challenge is to find the balance on how advanced we should make one part of the game versus how much time we should focus on other things," she expressed. "We want to make each thing high quality."

The story of Minecraft is one of balance — balance between major headline-grabbing feature additions and modest, yet still appreciated, quality-of-life improvements; balance between meeting development goals in a healthy manner while still delivering on promises and commitments; balance between making Minecraft perpetually bigger and grander, yet still remaining true to the idea that Minecraft's players control the narrative.

Mojang Studios is constantly searching for this balance, but that inevitably means compromises will have to be made.

We want to continue to update (Minecraft) for 50 years or more.

Agnes Larsson

Some highly anticipated Minecraft features are either coming in a later update, aren't coming at all, or are shrouded in mystery. Ahead of The Wild Update release, Mojang Studios made the decision to scrap the idea of fireflies as a food source for frogs, for example, and indefinitely delayed improvements to the birch forest biome. This joins other missing features, such as archaeology and bundles originally advertised with the Caves and Cliffs Update.

Many players have also lamented the fact that Xbox Series X|S Optimizations and ray tracing are still missing from this Minecraft update, a topic I've covered extensively in the past. I asked Larsson and Vaknin about all of this, but they were, unfortunately, unable to comment.

I've also seen players express a desire for copper, which was added in the Caves and Cliffs Update, to receive additional functionality or crafting options. I was told that Mojang Studios would love to, but that the timeline isn't certain. Players will have to wait longer to hear more about these features or updates, potentially at a future Minecraft Live event.

"We often say that Minecraft is almost done, but it's never fully done," Larsson commented on Minecraft's update cycle for new features. "We want to continue to update it and improve it for 50 years or more."

Minecraft 1.19 "The Wild Update" is officially here

Screenshot of Minecraft 1.19 "The Wild Update."

(Image credit: Mojang Studios)

Nearly a year ago, I wrote that Minecraft is one of the greatest games ever made, and this holds true today. The Wild Update may not be the flashiest release, and it may not contain every new addition and feature for which players have been waiting. Still, it remains true to the ethos of Minecraft and builds upon all the reasons Minecraft is one of the best-selling games on Xbox and everywhere else.

Minecraft 1.19 "The Wild Update" is now available for all players to download and play, not just those testing pre-release versions. The content update is rolling out everywhere Minecraft is available, including Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation, Switch, PC, mobile devices, and more.

It's not clear what comes next for Minecraft, but players likely won't have to wait long after the release of The Wild Update to begin hearing about what Mojang Studios is planning for the future. In the meantime, players have plenty of content with which to keep themselves entertained. Just be sneaky about it, the wardens are sleeping.

Minecraft: Bedrock Edition

Minecraft: Bedrock Edition

Minecraft 1.19 "The Wild Update" is officially here, and it brings new features, gameplay mechanics, and quality-of-life improvements. Wherever you play games, the Bedrock Edition is a great way to play Minecraft.

Buy it from Amazon | Xbox

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

Minecraft: Java Edition and Minecraft: Bedrock Edition are available through Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, making Microsoft's subscription service the best place to gain access to everything Minecraft.

Buy from Amazon | Xbox

Zachary Boddy
Staff Writer

Zachary Boddy (They / Them) is a Staff Writer for Windows Central, primarily focused on covering the latest news in tech and gaming, the best Xbox and PC games, and the most interesting Windows and Xbox hardware. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life starting with the original Xbox, and started out as a freelancer for Windows Central and its sister sites in 2019. Now a full-fledged Staff Writer, Zachary has expanded from only writing about all things Minecraft to covering practically everything on which Windows Central is an expert, especially when it comes to Microsoft. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.