For a game for both adults and children, Minecraft has some seriously creepy monsters. You have your classic creepers, skeletons, and zombies, but what about the giant floating ghasts, the brutish piglins in the Nether, and don't even get me started on Endermen. But the newest beast coming to the Caves and Cliffs update makes these enemies look almost cute in comparison.
Where do I even start with the Warden? They were introduced during Minecraft Live 2020 and are Minecraft's first blind mob, so instead of gunning it toward you as soon as you lock eyes, it skulks around sensing vibrations with sensors on its head. But, the moment you make a noise, you had better pray to the blocky gods: it's ready to attack. It also looks horrendous, with a huge gaping mouth and an exposed ribcage where you can see glowing souls trapped inside.
Sure, the Warden looks creepy, but Mojang has made the whole ordeal of encountering one all the more awful. These hulking creatures can be found in only one place, one of the update's new biomes, the Deep Dark. Caves and Cliffs will completely overhaul how caverns work, with a focus on making them expansive, open spaces with green underground areas. But the Deep Dark is the opposite. Its winding caverns are cramped and claustrophobic, making escape difficult and running away from a huge hulking creature almost impossible. If you risk going down there, you'd best have an escape plan if things go south.
Getting trapped in the Deep Dark with these creatures roaming around is what scares me the most in the new update, but thankfully you'll get a bit of warning if a Warden is near. Candles, lamps, and any sources of light will flicker and the area will slowly begin to get swallowed in darkness as it approaches. You'll also hear strained moaning and the glowing souls in its chest—pulsating like a horrific heartbeat—so you can see it in the dark.
This is what's so scary about the Warden. It's not just that it looks horrible: Mojang has cleverly orchestrated these encounters to be as scary as possible. If I got stuck in an underground cavern in complete darkness as a hulking, gurgling creature tried to kill me, I would just curl up in a ball and let fate take its course.
Mojang even advises players not to fight one. You'll need to try and sneak around it, distracting the monster with snowballs and arrows. If you find yourself trapped and try to attack the Warden, it lets out a ferocious roar and charges at you, hitting you until you're toast. Even if you're kitted out in some fancy Netherite armor, that won't stop the Warden from killing you in two hefty blows. Fighting is not an option with the Warden, which is unusual for a Minecraft monster. Sure, players will work out how to defeat them soon enough because the Minecraft community is ravenous, but the first couple of times players go delving into the Deep Dark are going to be frightening.
It really takes me back to the first time I played Minecraft and had to survive my first night. I'll never forget the first time when the blue skies and green grass disappear and you're suddenly exposed to all kinds of spine-tingling monsters.
The fear of facing off with the Warden has its rewards. The blocks that can be found in the Deep Dark are certainly worth the risk. The Warden is part of a new Sculk system that Mojang is introducing in the update. Sculk sensors are blocks that can detect vibrations, much like our freaky friend, and emit a signal to redstone (blocks that are vital for powering mechanisms in Minecraft).
Normally, redstone needs a connection to work, but a sculk sensor can transmit signals to redstone without being part of a circuit, essentially creating wireless mechanisms. This is a game-changer for Minecraft builders who love automation and tinkering. Sculk sensors can detect all kinds of movement including walking, swimming, flying, explosions, lightning strikes, and more. The possibilities for creating completely wireless mechanisms is immense.
With a reward that great, I will definitely be taking some dangerous expeditions down into the Deep Dark, even at the risk of a Warden encounter. I'm sure there will be plenty of techniques and strategies that will sprout up from the community when the Caves and Cliffs update releases later this year—I just hope they're enough to get me out alive.