What’s New in the Minecraft 1.16 “Nether Update”

Minecraft 1.16 is a new update, and I think we all have the same question on our minds: what is this update all about?

I’m going to take you on a tour of the newest Java Edition release, catching you up on the new blocks, mobs, and other features you will encounter in Minecraft 1.16.

The splash screen of Minecraft 1.16 includes a 360 degree panorama of an updated Nether. This angle includes a crimson forest, warped forest, and soulsand valley. [20w18a Minecraft 1.16]
The Minecraft splash screen in the 20w18a snapshot.

Crimson and Warped Forests

Crimson forest and warped forest side by side with a sort of "split world" effect [20w18a of Minecraft 1.16]
A landscape split by a crimson forest (left) and a warped forest (right)

First off, let’s check out my two favorite aspects of the update: the crimson forest and the warped forest.

Huge fungi trees define both of these new biomes. They have crimson or warped stems, and either nether wart or warped wart blocks as the ‘leaves.’

You will also find shroomlight blocks inside these huge fungi trees. Shroomlight is a light source similar to glowstone but it has a brighter, lava-like texture.

Are there saplings for these huge fungi trees? No, but you can grow them from the small crimson and warped fungus plants also added in Minecraft 1.16. If you place the fungus on a select few blocks — grass, dirt, soul soil, podzol, or farmland — the plant will eventually blossom into its bigger version.

You can also speed up the growth process. Just place a fungus on a nylium block — warped or crimson, respectively — and use some bone meal on it. Bone meal also allows you to generate nylium and fungus from netherrack when you’re in a crimson or warped forest biome.

How to Use Fungi Stems in Minecraft 1.16

You can craft with stems much like you use logs in the overworld. Crimson and warped blocks can create some colourful and pretty-looking builds.

The stems are fireproof, as are the blocks you can craft with it. These byproducts include planks, doors, fences, slabs — you name it. The risk of a building catching on fire near lava is high, so warped and crimson builds are a good alternative to pre-1.16 materials. The downside to this, however, is that you cannot use stems as fuel in furnaces.

I made a couple of houses with the new crimson and warped items introduced in Minecraft 1.16. If you want to know how we’d furnish the interiors, check out our guide to interior decoration!

On top: a small hut made of Minecraft 1.16 crimson planks, stripped crimson logs, magenta stained glass, and variations of those blocks.
On bottom: a similar hut, but with  warped planks and light blue stained glass instead. [20w18a Minecraft 1.16]

Basalt Deltas

The third biome introduced in 1.16 is the Basalt Deltas. Here, you’ll find another new block: basalt. Basalt is quite a unique block in that it’s directional; like logs, basalt looks different when placed on its side than it does when placed upwards.

A Minecraft 1.16 Basalt Delta biome with lots of basalt, as well as blackstone, magma blocks, lava, and magma cubes interspersed throughout the valleys. [1.16 Pre-2 Minecraft 1.16]

Between the towering structures of the basalt biome you will find blackstone, magma blocks, lava, and a whole lot of magma cubes.

Basalt crafts polished basalt, which is similar to the polished variants of diorite, granite, and andesite. Basalt and polished basalt are purely decorative.

Hey, Soul Sister!

Mojang also graced us with the Soul Sand Valley biome in Minecraft 1.16. These biomes are made entirely of new blocks, soul sand and soul soil. Soul sand and soul soil are similar to netherrack in that its fires burn eternally. However, fire on soul sand/soil is not red; it’s blue, which Mojang calls soul fire.

A Minecraft 1.16 Nether Fossil located in a Soul Sand Valley, showcasing soul fire, soul torches, soul campfires, and soul lanterns. [20w20b Minecraft 1.16]
A showcase of the “soul” family of products on a Nether Fossil.

Be careful not to stand on soul fire! Soul fire deals damage twice as fast as normal fire. Ack!

In addition to soul fire, Mojang added soul lanterns, soul campfires, and soul torches. These have the same crafting recipes as their non-soul fire counterparts. They are slightly dimmer than their non-soul versions. I wonder if they’re as dim as ghasts?

Speaking of mobs, you can now spawn Withers on soul soil like you can on soul sand.

The only new enchantment in 1.16 is the Soul Speed enchantment (levels I to III). If you slap this enchantment on a pair of boots, soul sand and soil won’t slow you down; instead, you actually run faster than you would on other blocks.

Minecraft 1.16 introduces the Nether Fossil, a new structure which you’ll find exclusively in the Soul Sand Valley. These bone compositions come in different designs, but they are all remnants of “creatures of the past” according to Mojang. Spooky!

Nether Wastes

The new Nether Wastes biome looks very similar to the Nether from the pre-Minecraft 1.16 Nether. It is still lush with netherrack and quartz ore, but you will also find the new nether gold ore. Mojang added character to the nether with other new structures such as bastion remnants, fortresses, and ruined portals. Lava seas still exist, but they are far less common than they were before.

The Minecraft 1.16 Nether Wastes biome, with several veins of quartz, one vein of gold ore, a piglin, and some zombified piglins in the background. [20w21a Minecraft 1.16]
The Nether Wastes biome, with several veins of quartz and gold ore.

Nether fortresses haven’t changed much, but there are two new variants of nether brick blocks: cracked nether brick and chiseled nether brick. Both are strictly decorative.

Bastion Remnants

Minecraft 1.16 introduces another naturally-generated structure: Bastion Remnants, large buildings comprised of various blackstone and basalt blocks. They are also home to Piglins — more on them later.

Several piglins roaming about a Bastion Remnant. [1.16 Pre-2 Minecraft 1.16]

You’ll find loot chests throughout Remnants, and the items found in these chests range from very useful to completely useless. Who needs that much string?

The Pigstep music disc is one gem you might find in a loot chest. Not only is this the first music disc addition since 1.4.4, it is also the only music disc not made by C418; instead, Lena Raine composed it.

Remnants are comprised of blackstone, which is purely decorative. It has a darker texture compared to cobblestone. Like cobblestone, blackstone can make a bunch of blocks, like slabs, stairs, polished variants, and bricks.

Gilded blackstone is found in the Remnants. This block drops golden nuggets when mined without Silk Touch.

The Prominence of Gold in Minecraft 1.16

With the new update, gold has a use now! Actually, a few different uses!

For one, the new Piglin mob is normally hostile towards players. However, if you wear a single piece of golden armor, Piglins will not attack you.

You can also barter with Piglin using gold ingots. If you throw one at a Piglin, it will throw something back at you. It carries 17 potential trades, ranging from a Soul Speed enchantment book to pieces of crying obsidian.

A Catastrophic Tale of Ruined Portals and Crying Obsidian

Minecraft 1.16 introduces Ruined Portals, which look vaguely like the remnants of an old explorer’s Nether portal. This structure naturally appears in both the Nether and the Overworld — featuring blackstone in the Nether or stone brick in the Overworld.

A Minecraft 1.16 Ruined Portal found in the middle of the forest. Surrounding it is netherrack, lava, and magma blocks. [20w22a Minecraft 1.16]

The area around Ruined Portals in the Overworld is scattered with netherrack, lava, obsidian, magma blocks, and sometimes even a gold block.

You will find crying obsidian among the debris. Portal frames don’t use crying obsidian but the crafting recipe for respawn anchors does. Anchors let you respawn in the Nether if they are adequately charged with glowstone.

What’s the Deal with Netherite?

A lot of the hype around the 1.16 update is about netherite. What does netherite actually do, though?

First of all, the way you craft netherite tools and armor is unconventional. You must first have the diamond variant of that item. Then, in a Smithing Table, place the diamond item and one netherite ingot. Craft netherite ingots by combining four netherite scraps — obtained from smelting Ancient Debris found underground in the Nether — and four gold ingots.

Voila! You now have the netherite variant of the diamond tool/armor that you initially placed!

An enchanted diamond hoe placed in a Smithing Table with a Netherite Ingot outputs an enchanted Netherite Hoe. [20w20b Minecraft 1.16]

Netherite tools and armor have a higher durability than diamond versions. The tools have a higher attack damage (except the Netherite hoe), and all netherite armor has a higher resistance.

You can make blocks of netherite with nine netherite ingots. If you’re rich and keen to flaunt your wealth, you can make a beacon powered completely by netherite blocks. Your stocks will be better off for using a cheaper material, though.

A beacon with several layers of Minecraft 1.16 Netherite blocks underneath, powering the beacon. [20w20b Minecraft 1.16]

Netherite tools and armor do not burn in lava. This means you don’t need to worry about dying in lava and losing them forever. I’m not mad, I promise.

Minecraft 1.16 Adds Some Spooky New Mobs

The Zombie Pigman is dead, long live the Zombified Piglin.

In Minecraft 1.16, we are haunted by five new mobs: the Strider, the Piglin, the Hoglin, the Zoglin, and the Zombified Piglin.

Piglins are the guardians of Bastion Remnants, as we highlighted earlier.

The Hoglin is a large, hog-like creature hostile to Piglins.

The Zoglin and the Zombified Piglin are the zombified versions of the Hoglin and the Piglin, respectively.

The Hoglin and the Zoglin will always attack you, so stay clear. The Piglin will only attack you if you have no golden armor on. The Zombified Piglin has the same mechanics as the Zombie Pigman; it will only attack you if you attack it. Striders will never attack you.

A picture of a Minecraft 1.16 Hoglin on the left and a Zoglin (zombified Hoglin) on the right. [20w19a Minecraft 1.16]
A Hoglin (left) and a Zoglin (right). Note that Zoglins do not spawn in the Nether.
A picture of a Minecraft 1.16 Piglin with a golden chestplate and crossbow on the left, and a Zombified Piglin on the right. [20w19a Minecraft 1.16]
A Piglin (left) and a Zombified Piglin (right)

Striders are convenient little things. If you tame a Strider using a warped fungus, you can then put a saddle on it and ride it across the lava pools. Steer by placing the warped fungus on a stick.

No more dangerous dirt bridges across lava required; just call a Strider!

A Minecraft 1.16 Strider in a small lava pool. [20w19a]
A Strider in a small lava pool.

What Else Changed in Minecraft 1.16

Minecraft 1.16 made smaller advancements outside of the Nether, too.

  • Target blocks emit a redstone signal when a projectile (such as an arrow, snowball, etc.) hits it — the closer to the center, the stronger the charge.
  • Lodestone blocks are crafted from netherite and chiseled stone bricks. If you hit a lodestone block with a compass, the compass will point you to that block rather than the center of the world. As normal compasses don’t work in the Nether or End, you can point a lodestone compass to a defined point in one of these worlds.
  • Respawn Anchors can now be used in lieu of a bed in the Nether (but not in the End or Overworld).
  • Mojang added Quartz Bricks (similar to Stone Bricks).
  • Chains are a new block made from iron ingots and nuggets. You can hang lanterns and bells from them.
  • And hundreds of other miscellaneous technical and quality of life improvements!

1.16 looks like an amazing update to Minecraft. However, I could only include so much in this guide! Now that you know the basics, I encourage you to experience the Nether Update yourself! Words and pictures can’t fully capture the full offerings of Minecraft 1.16. Just use the “Latest Release” profile next time you start up Minecraft, if you aren’t already using it.

I wish you well on your Nether adventures. You will need it.

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