Minecraft's big Caves & Cliffs Update has been split in two, with the latter part now not due until "around the holiday season", developer Mojang said today.
While some of the update will still arrive this summer - more on that below - this constitutes a delay for many of its more ambitious parts.
Explaining the cause in a detailed blog post and FAQ, Mojang said that "significant technical challenges" had stemmed from the far-ranging nature of this update, which touches on fundamental parts of Minecraft's world-generation system.
"With this feature, we are completely reshaping the Overworld, including the build height," Mojang wrote. "Not only do we have to consider every effect this can have on the world but also how it will affect performance. Basically, having more stuff in the game also slows it down and we want to avoid that."
The knock-on from this was a potential impact to team health and the need to work "very long hours", Mojang continued. "Even then, there would've been no guarantee that everything would be finished on time. Lastly, working from home as we cope with the pandemic is still challenging - not just in terms of morale but also by hindering teamwork."
This summer will still see the launch of the update's planned mobs (animals), items and new blocks. Mojang listed these as: "Goat, Axolotl, Crystals + Spyglass + Geodes + Tinted Glass, Copper + Lightning Rod, Glow Squid + Glow Ink, Powder Snow, Lush Cave Blocks, Dripstone Cave Blocks, Deepslate + Ore Variants, Glow Lichen, and Multiplayer Sleeping Rule (Java only)." Everything else will now arrive later.
Mojang first detailed its Caves & Cliffs update at Minecon 2020 last October, and acknowledged at the time that it would take longer than usual.
The update is set to vary Minecraft's caves and introduce various new types, underground lakes and waterfalls to raft down. A new archaeology system was also mentioned, which will let you discover buried ruins you can dust off to find artefacts. Above ground, cliffs are being redesigned to look more like actual mountains.
Speaking in the above video, Mojang said archaeology specifically had actually been delayed beyond the holiday season as it was a whole new system which would need longer still to get right.