After a fantastic year for Minecraft with the release of the much anticipated Nether Update as well as the addition of Nvidia raytracing, Mojang is looking set to add further massive improvements to the game moving into the new year.
Caves & Cliffs
The long awaited and Cave & Cliffs update, long seen as just a pipe dream for fans, entered development a few months ago, with the most recent development version adding axolotls.
Mojang is still yet to implement their huge cave generation overhaul, adding expansive caverns bigger than anything seen before and more varied underground areas, but that should be coming soon to the game over the next month or two, as they would want to take players' feedback for months leading up to the full release of the update.
There are also many other features yet to be added, such as the spooky Deep Dark inhabited by the blind but acutely sensitive to sound warden, the fertile azalea cave biome, goats, and archeology dig sites. Expect all of these to be added soon.
The full release of 1.17 Caves & Cliffs is set for "summer 2021" (northern hemisphere), so the update will be out anywhere between June and September of this year. Expect it to be released quite late in that window, however, as there are many, many additions, changes and tweaks Mojang needs to perform before the full release.
After the release of 1.17, Mojang will of course spend the rest of the year releasing smaller or bug fix updates to optimise the recently added features. Expect one or two of these minor releases every two or so months after release for Java Edition and constant bug fixes for Bedrock.
One major back-end change to the Java Edition of the game coming this year is the Microsoft account migration, where all players will have to transfer their old Mojang accounts to Microsoft accounts. As a reward, you will get a free cape!
Mojang lists that this migration will allow for two-factor authentication (where you can use a separate device to verify your login), having players' Minecraft and Minecraft Dungeons games be under the same account for easy access, and being able blocking the chat messages of disruptive players in multiplayer servers from being shown to you.
No set date has been set for the account migration, but expect to receive news from Mojang over the coming months about how the process will work – and how you can get your cape.
As usual, the annual Minecon livestream (which changes its name every year) will be held around the last week of September, and will most likely announce the next major update after Caves & Cliffs, 1.18, which will probably be slated for mid 2022.
While originally postponed into 2021 back in March due to obvious reasons, the revival of the in-person Minecon event, Minecraft Festival, is instead now set be held sometime in 2022, although even that is not set in stone.
Don't expect 2021 to bring any new surprise games, however. Mojang probably won't make any more games for a while now.
To wrap up, most exciting part of 2021 for Minecraft is obviously going to be the impressive revamp of the underground they have been undertaking for the past few months, but there are also these few other events you should be aware of. Happy new year.