Minecraft's Combat Update Changes the Game in a Big Way

Minecraft’s 1.9 patch—known as the Combat Update—has been in development at Mojang for well over year, and it’s arriving on PC today. So what exactly does it bring to the table? Let’s take a look.


Once you start playing, the first new thing you’ll notice will likely be the off-hand slot. This is a new inventory slot which you can use to dual wield items, like a sword and a shield, as in the GIF above, or a pickaxe and a stack of torches, so you can light up your mineshafts without constantly switching between items.

Of course, you can use your main hand and off hand items independently of each other.

You can also use the off-hand slot to choose what type of arrow you’ll use when firing the bow (yes, courtesy of the update, there are now multiple new arrow types). Otherwise, the game just randomly picks arrows from your inventory.


The patch changes the way combat works, too (hence the name). The damage you inflict is now determined by cooldowns: the faster you swing, the less damage you do. How quickly a tool returns to its full damage potential is decided by a new attack speed stat, which is different for each tool type and material. In practical terms, this means that generally, spamming left click no longer works all that well in a fight.


Tool types have been rebalanced around the cooldown mechanic, meaning you’ve got good all-rounder swords, slow but strong axes, and very fast but weak hoes.


Minecraft’s endgame dimension, The End, is getting a revamp as well. The Ender Dragon, fittingly for the final boss of the game, got new breath and explosive attacks, which should make the fight—or fights, since it can now be infinitely respawned—a lot more interesting. There’s also a new type of dungeon called End city, found on infinitely generating floating islands around the central island. Here you can find the flight cape Patricia wrote about a few months back (they’re actually called Elytra), among other types of rare loot.


Those are the big ones, but it’s far from everything. Consult the full change log below, via Mojang’s blog, for a summary of what’s new in 1.9. A more detailed list is available at the Minecraft wiki.

  • Added shields
  • Attacking now has a “cool-down” delay, making it more important to time your attacks
  • You can now hold items in both hands (default quick key to swap items is ‘F’)
  • Swords have a special sweep attack
  • Axes have a special crushing blow attack
  • Added the elytra
  • New mob: Shulker
  • Expanded The End
  • Added Chorus plants
  • New Purpur blocks
  • New End Rod block
  • Added dragon head block
  • Ender Dragon can be resummoned
  • Added beetroot and beetroot soup (from MC:PE)
  • Added grass path block
  • Added igloos
  • Armor protection values have been lowered
  • Added tipped arrows
  • Added spectral arrows
  • Added Frost Walker enchantment and frosted ice block
  • Added a whole bunch of new sound effects
  • Added sound effect subtitles
  • Brewing Stand now requires Blaze Powder to activate
  • Added skeleton riders
  • We believe we’ve fixed MC-10 and a whole bunch of other issues
  • Removed Herobrine

Questions? Comments? Contact the author of this post at andras-AT-kotaku-DOT-com.



Semi-related: Does anyone know of a way to disable zombie sieges? My husband and I used to play together all the time, but these brought a stop to it. They’re just tedious and annoying, not challenging, and we don’t find it fun to have to build up our villages to specifications that limit their design and scale just to avoid them. We haven’t played in a long time as a result. We got a lot of good time together in that game so it’s not like I’m throwing a fit over it, but it’d be nice if there was a way for us to enjoy it again.