An upcoming Minecraft snapshot has revealed a host of new features.
A new pre-release build of Minecraft is available for download, and with it comes a number of updates and fresh new blocks. While the update's content is very cool on its own, a secret lies hidden in the patch's code: a new hostile creature is nestled in the game's files, and it's a nasty one. The new enemy is currently dubbed the Wither, looks to be Minecraft's second boss monster, and is confirmed to be the subject of my nightmares tonight.
The Wither does not spawn anywhere in the game naturally, but enterprising players have been able to invoke its blocky existence by modifying the updated files. It appears as a floating black skeleton with three heads, and constantly emits smoke particles. Its primary attack launches a projectile skull which explodes on impact. Players hit by the explosion are afflicted with a unique poison, slowly draining their health and replenishing the Wither's hit points. As if that wasn't dangerous enough, each of the Wither's three heads act independently, allowing it to target several foes at once. The Wither has a special "Boss Health" bar (previously unique to the Ender Dragon), and can soak up 300 points of damage before going down (compared to the Dragon's 200 points). Oh, and at half health, it becomes immune to arrows.
Also included in the update are a handful of new blocks, including frames to hang your items on walls and wooden buttons that can be activated from afar by hitting them with arrows. A new invisibility potion renders players and creatures undetectable (though items and armor are unaffected, so you can finally roleplay as The Invisible Man). Maps have also been overhauled to allow for copying and resizing, and leather armor can be dyed to your fashionable heart's content. The full patch notes are available on Reddit.
The team at Mojang is not commenting on the Wither's debut, but it seems you can expect the rest of the new content to be available in a full patch sometime soon. In the meantime, you can grab the pre-release client on Mojang's site. It may be wise to start preparing now - it sounds like this boss is ready to knock your block off.