The first pre-release for the upcoming Minecraft Nether Update has been released for the Java Edition of the game, getting closer to the full release of the update.
1.16 Pre-release 1 came out and adds a few new features. Notably, this version adds two new game rules that control whether mobs stay angry at players who have died and whether mobs will go into a raging frenzy when attacked, respectively, and allows custom dimensions to be added to a world using player-created data packs.
More important than the actual additions in this version is what it represents: the Nether Update, version number 1.16 on all available platforms, will be releasing soon.
The Nether Update was first announced during the MINECON livestream last September, and public development versions started being released in February (initially under version 1.15.0 for the Bedrock editions; the parent version was later bumped to 1.16.0 without 1.15 actually being released).
The update, as the name suggests, completely revamps the Nether dimension of the game with four new biomes, each with unique terrain and blocks, and a new Nether structure called thebastion remnant. New mobs in the update include piglins, hoglins, zoglins, and striders; piglins can be bartered with using gold, and striders can be used as lava boats. A couple dozen new blocks are added as well, including many variants of blackstone and a variety of Nether flora.
Additionally, this update adds support for custom dimensions to be added via JSON file importing or data packs, allowing many different terrain features and aspects of world generation to be tweaked and changed in any way. Custom dimensions were tested a few months ago in this year's April Fools' update, 20w14∞.
Major versions have in the past been released anywhere between 1 and 6 weeks after their first pre-release, so the Nether Update could release anytime before August. Simultaneous releases for both the Java and Bedrock editions is expected.
See the major changes in this update in the short video below: