Best answer: The Caves and Cliffs Update does not have a confirmed release date yet. However, Mojang Studios recently made the decision to split and delay the Caves and Cliffs Update for Minecraft, meaning players can now expect two separate releases. The first, and smaller, update is slated for a Summer 2021 release, while the larger second half is scheduled to release in Winter 2021. Some parts of the Caves and Cliffs Update have been delayed indefinitely.
The road to Caves and Cliffs
Minecraft is a global phenomenon of a game, and continues to grow and evolve year over year. Back at Minecon 2019, Mojang Studios laid out a busy year for their open-world survival sandbox with two updates: the minor and adorable Buzzy Bees Update, followed by the absolutely massive and disruptive Nether Update. This followed a traditional tick / tock update cadence where Mojang Studios rotated between smaller and larger releases.
During Minecon 2019, Mojang Studios also held a vote that let the community decide which popular biome would receive an overhaul next. The mountain biome won, and Minecrafters assumed that this would be one of the two updates slated for 2020. At Minecraft Live 2020, Mojang Studios both confirmed this speculation and shirked expectations with the announcement of the incredibly ambitious Caves and Cliffs Update.
Instead of releasing two smaller updates throughout the year, Mojang Studios decided to combine two releases into one mega update. The Caves and Cliffs Update will deliver the promised makeover for the mountain biome while also completely overhauling the classic but outdated mining experience in Minecraft. Because of the aspirations of the Caves and Cliffs Update for Minecraft, however, Mojang Studios needs extra time to make it all happen.
Unfortunately, this ambitious plan hasn't panned out for Mojang Studios, as the Caves and Cliffs Update has been split into two pieces spread out over the rest of 2021.
A window for release
The Caves and Cliffs Update does not have a definitive release date at this time. Mojang Studios still has a lot of work ahead of them to develop, test, and polish the ludicrous number of features and changes coming in the Caves and Cliffs Update. That being said, we do have release windows for the two halves of the Caves and Cliffs Update. Part one should arrive sometime in Summer 2021, while part two isn't coming until Winter 2021.
As we get closer to the launch of the Caves and Cliffs Update, we'll be able to make more educated guesses. Mojang Studios will also certainly release additional information over time. Until then, Mojang Studios will slowly release and test features through Minecraft: Bedrock Edition betas and Minecraft: Java Edition snapshots.
While Summer 2021 was a good indicator of when the Caves and Cliffs Update would launch, it's worth considering the current landscape of video game development in recent months. Delays for video games are becoming increasingly common because of the difficulty transitioning to a work-from-home structure.
Development on Minecraft and Minecraft Dungeons may continue to be affected by the increase of employees working from home. The scope of the Caves and Cliffs Update also increased the chances of a delay, as severe technical complexities and challenges need to be overcome to deliver a polished and fun experience for players.
If I had to speculate on when the first half of the Caves and Cliffs Update would launch later this year, I'd argue mid-August 2021. This gives Mojang Studios plenty of time to polish features and release bug fixes while still staying within their Summer release window. The first portion of the Caves and Cliffs Update for Minecraft will include new blocks, mobs, and smaller world generation updates for players.
As for the second half of the Caves and Cliffs Update, things are a little muddier. Right now, the update has been delayed until the Holidays, or Winter 2021. However, the most significant and ambitious features of the Caves and Cliffs Update have all been moved to this second release, meaning the chances of a second delay aren't out of the question. The second update for the Caves and Cliffs Update will include significant world generation changes for mountains and caves, and increased world sizes.
Finally, the new archeology system that was supposed to debut with the Caves and Cliffs Update has been indefinitely delayed and won't arrive until sometime in 2022 at the earliest.
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Minecraft is an inarguable and complete success. It has sold copies in the hundreds of millions, has a huge following of dedicated players, and lets you unlock your every creative desire. Minecraft is shaking things up with the Caves and Cliffs Update, which plans to add an astronomical amount of new features to this already packed game.
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