Minecraft 1.20 update: Features, theme, and everything we know

Early image of Minecraft 1.20.
(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

For over a decade, Minecraft has dominated the video game industry and topped sales charts. The creative-survival classic's undeniable success is due, in no small part, to the combined efforts of the bustling Minecraft community and the post-launch support of Mojang Studios. Now, players know the first details of what's coming next to Minecraft with the arrival of the 1.20 update.

Dedicated to player expression, representation, and making Minecraft "Minecraftier," Minecraft 1.20 may end up being an excellent update for Minecraft across Xbox, PlayStation, Switch, PC, and mobile devices. Here's everything we know about the upcoming content release, including what features will be included and when players can expect the update to arrive.

What is Minecraft 1.20?

Revealed during Minecraft Live 2022, the Minecraft 1.20 update is the next major content update following 2022's 1.19 "The Wild Update" release. Mojang Studios has already detailed the initial features of the highly anticipate update, but changes to how the studio approaches Minecraft releases means a less exciting announcement and a more interesting development cycle.

Instead of a hyped reveal featuring early concept art, unfinished prototypes, and promises, Mojang Studios is only sharing details and features that are close to completion. To this end, Minecraft 1.20 doesn't even have a name, yet, with Mojang Studios aiming to work with the community to name the update sometime before its release. Mojang Studios hopes to avoid missed expectations, and wants to include the community in the development process even more than with previous updates.

We do know a little of the general theme of the 1.20 update, however. Mojang Studios is focusing this release on player expression, representation, and making Minecraft "Minecraftier." That means improving the ways in which the player can build and interact with their worlds, better representing different parts of the world in Minecraft, and incorporating much-requested quality-of-life features that simply make Minecraft better. Only a handful of features have been revealed so far, but more are coming as the update progresses ever-close to its eventual release.

Minecraft 1.20: Features & gameplay

Early image of Minecraft 1.20.

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Minecraft is already one of the best games on Xbox and PC, and it's only set to improve further with every successive update. Minecraft 1.20 will presumably be packed from end-to-end with new features and improvements for players to enjoy, but Mojang Studios is only announcing them when it's confident those features will meet expectations and arrive on time. We'll continually update this section as we learn more about the features and additions coming to Minecraft with the expansive 1.20 content update.

Major features

Early image of Minecraft 1.20.

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

During Minecraft Live 2022, Mojang Studios revealed the first four features arriving with Minecraft 1.20. These features are already available for players to test via snapshots and Minecraft Preview, although they are in an early, experimental stage and are prone to changes as Mojang Studios collects feedback and develops the update. Here's everything we know about the features and gameplay additions confirmed for Minecraft 1.20:

  • Bamboo building set. Minecraft is resplendent with various wood types, with each used for a variety of building blocks. With Minecraft 1.20, bamboo is joining this category of diverse, helpful building blocks.
    • Bamboo can now be used to craft the entire roster of wood blocks, including planks, doors, trapdoors, signs, stairs, slabs, fences, fence gates, buttons, and pressure plates
    • Bamboo also has an exclusive building block known as the bamboo mosaic, which is crafted with two bamboo slabs and also has stair and slab variants
    • Instead of boats, bamboo can be used to craft rafts and rafts with chest, which are functionally identical to boats but have a unique appearance
  • Camels. A new mob is heading to the desert in Minecraft 1.20 as a mount alternative to the trusty Horse, the quirky Pig, and the lava-confined Strider.
    • Camels are passive mobs and don't pose a threat to players
    • Camels are found in desert villages
    • Camels possess unique animations and behaviors, including for laying down and standing up
    • Camels are tall enough that most hostile mobs cannot reach players that are riding them
    • Camels are also tall enough to walk over fences
    • Camels support two-player saddles, a first for a Minecraft mount
    • Instead of a high jump, Camels have a "dash" ability that allows them to sprint forward a few blocks with incredible speed
    • Camels can either walk slowly or sprint
    • Players can breed Camels using cactus blocks
    • Camels are stubborn, and are prone to laying down and refusing to stand
  • Chiseled bookshelves. The purely decorative bookshelf that has graced Minecraft for years is getting a practical companion in the chiseled bookshelf, which should excite storytelling and redstone tinkering players alike.
    • The chiseled bookshelf is fully functional, and can store up to six books of any kind, including books, books and quill, written books, and enchanted books
    • Players interact with the bookshelf by adding or removing books fully in-game, not through a dedicated inventory menu
    • Chiseled bookshelves are crafted using six wooden planks and three wooden slabs
    • Chiseled bookshelves support redstone interactions, including for secret doorways
    • Redstone comparators can detect the last book added or removed from chiseled bookshelves and send a redstone signal
  • Hanging signs. The classic sign is also getting a more stylish companion in the hanging sign, which is also tailored toward players who value worldbuilding and storytelling.
    • Hanging signs are functionally identical to regular signs, but feature a unique appearance
    • Hanging signs are crafted using two chains and six stripped logs of any wood type, resulting in up to six different colorways
    • There are three varieties of hanging signs, depending on how the player places them in the world
    • Hanging signs that are suspended below a full block will hang from two chains
    • Hanging signs that are suspended below a narrow block, like a fence post, will hang from a single chain that splits in to a "V"-shaped chain
    • Hanging signs that are attached to the side of full blocks will hang from two chains below a horizontal wooden bar

Image of all the new default characters for Minecraft.

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Minecraft 1.20's featureset is admittedly limited at the moment, but there are other features that are related to the upcoming content update or may arrive alongside it that have been confirmed by Mojang Studios. One such feature is the addition of seven new default characters to join Steve and Alex. These new default characters will be available to any player before the end of the year, and makes Minecraft far more inclusive for players just starting out.

The characters include Makene, Efe, Noor, Kai, Ari, Sunny, and Zuri, with each character possessing unique appearances and characteristics. Mojang Studios will also use all seven of the new characters in trailers and marketing materials. These additions to Minecraft's default character roster aren't arriving with Minecraft 1.20, and instead will come to players in a separate update in November or December of this year.

Image of the Minecraft Live Mob Vote 2022.

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

One feature that likely will arrive with Minecraft 1.20 is the Sniffer, the winner of the Minecraft Live Mob Vote 2022. Mojang Studios hasn't outright confirmed that players can expect the Sniffer with Minecraft 1.20, but it seems like that the upcoming mob addition is destined for that release. Here's everything we know about the Sniffer:

  • The Sniffer is a passive mob, and poses no danger to players or other mobs
  • In the Minecraft universe, the Sniffer is a long-extinct mob that disappeared from the Overworld years ago
  • Players can revive the extinct breed by discovering Sniffer eggs in underwater treasure chests
  • Sniffer eggs need to be nurtured before they can catch into adorable baby Sniffers
  • Sniffers grow to be massive, and are marked by their prominent snouts and grass cloaks
  • Sniffers love plants, and can lead players to ancient plant seeds that can be cultivated into all-new plantlife

Cut features and future plans

Concept art of the birch forest improvements for Minecraft.

(Image credit: Mojang Studios | Twitter)

There are plenty of additional features that haven't been announced yet for Minecraft 1.20, but there are also a handful of features that haven't been mentioned or flat out aren't arriving with the imminent content update. Here's what we know about cut features or features that aren't arriving with Minecraft 1.20:

  • Previously cut features like archaeology and birch forest revisions have not been mentioned as part of Minecraft 1.20
  • It has been confirmed that no biome is being updated with Minecraft 1.20
  • Fireflies are not coming in Minecraft 1.20, although Mojang Studios is still considering them for a future update
  • Combat parity between Minecraft: Java Edition and Minecraft: Bedrock Edition is not arriving with Minecraft 1.20, although Mojang Studios does want to deliver this parity improvement in a future update

Minecraft 1.20: Release window

Early image of Minecraft 1.20.

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Over four months separated the release of Minecraft 1.19 "The Wild Update" in early June from the announcement of Minecraft 1.20 in mid-October, leaving many players wondering when the title's next content update can be expected. This early on, it's understandable that Mojang Studios didn't have an exact release date for which players can wait, but we did get a broad release window during which Minecraft 1.20 should arrive.

Minecraft 1.20 is set to release at some point in 2023. Mojang Studios didn't even provide a general window beyond that, but we expect the update to be finished and released before summer ends. Before that time, Mojang Studios will continue announcing and testing new features for the update, with the Minecraft community continually providing feedback to help the studio iterate on its new content. We'll update this section as soon as we learn more about when Minecraft 1.20 will be released.

If you're interested in participating in the development of Minecraft 1.20, its first features are already in the hands of players. Minecraft: Bedrock Edition and Minecraft: Java Edition players can now test a handful of experimental Minecraft 1.20 features through snapshots and Minecraft Preview.

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Minecraft: Bedrock Edition

Minecraft 1.20 is heading to all players within the next year, and the first details have already been revealed. The next major content update for Minecraft is all about player expression and representation.

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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.

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Zachary Boddy
Staff Writer

Zachary Boddy (They / Them) is a Staff Writer primarily focused on covering the latest news, the best Xbox and PC games, and the most interesting hardware. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life, and have been with Windows Central and its sister sites since 2019. While originally brought on to write about all things Minecraft, Zachary has since expanded to write about practically everything that Windows Central covers. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.