It's been almost a year since the last major update to Minecraft (the one that added horses, amongst other things). The Mojang people have clearly been hard at work because there are a LOT of changes in version 1.8!
Here's a quick look at some of the new stuff, but you can find the whole list over on the Mojang blog.
It looks a bit like a fish, spawns in ocean monuments and attacks players (and squids) with a fricken laser beam that comes out of its one eye. What's not to love?
Bunnies! I was excited for these but to be honest they're a bit underwhelming. But there is the rare chance that one will spawn as hostile and attack you, in honour of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
This silverfish-like hostile mob randomly spawns and scurries around when an Enderman teleports away.
Changes To Existing Mobs
Villagers - They now farm their own crops (harvesting and replanting, and making wheat into bread) and have some new professions (like Fisherman and Shepherd). They can also turn into witches if hit by lightning.
Wolves - Will now attack skeletons.
Skeletons - Will now run away from wolves.
Slimes - Can now swim.
Spiders - Can no longer see you through opaque blocks.
Blazes - Can shoot players through solid blocks.
Creepers - Run away from other creepers that are about to explode.
Granite, andesite and diorite - New igneous rocks, mostly found underground. Look like coloured stone.
Red sandstone - Found at cave entrances in Mesa biomes. The chiseled version of the block has a wither face.
Prismarine and Sea Lanterns - Found in the new ocean monument structure.
Wet sponge - Sponges now appear in survival and can be used to soak up water to fill buckets.
Slime block - It's bouncy like a trampoline!
Iron trapdoor - As with the iron door, it can only be opened with redstone.
Mutton - Sheep now have meat!
Rabbit hide - Bunny leather.
Rabbit meat and stew - Mmm, bunny.
Rabbit’s foot - Potion ingredient that can be dropped when a rabbit is killed.
Banners - These decorative flag displays are pretty neat, and can be customized with different colours and patterns.
Armor stands - Can display armor, mob heads and pumpkins.
Changes to existing items
Fences - Can now be made out of any type of wood.
Buttons - Can now be placed on the ground or ceiling.
Doors - Can now stack when they’re in a player’s inventory, and crafting produces three doors at a time instead of one. You can also now make different types of doors depending on the wood you use...
This is an underwater temple-like structure built out of the new prismarine blocks, with gold blocks in the centre. It spawns in deep ocean and is guarded by the aptly named Guardian mob.
The orange wool has been changed to stained clay.
There are a bunch of new commands which should be fun, particularly for people who like to make adventure maps. These can be used in the command line or with command blocks.
/clone ... copies all the blocks from a space to a different space
/fill ... fills a space with a specified block
/replaceitem ... replaces items in a player's inventory
@e ... new target selector for entities, so you can set actions to affect mobs as well as players
There are also better controls for making adventure maps, with the ability to specify which blocks can and can’t be destroyed.
Enchantments and Potions
The new Depth Strider enchantment will allow a player to move faster through water, and the Potion of Leaping will allow a player to jump higher. Also enchantments require less experience points, but you will now need lapis lazuli (finally, a use for all that lapis you've collected!)
Options & Settings
The difficulty (Peaceful, Easy, Hard) is now set per world, and you can lock it so that other players can't change it as they're playing.
Spectator game mode
This is a new game mode for players who want to watch the action but not participate, and it's pretty cool. Players in spectator mode can’t interact with the world or other players - they're invisible, and just fly through blocks as if they're not there. Try it out, it's kinda trippy.
More world customizations
There are now lots more options when creating a world, like whether there will be caves and dungeons and how easy it is to find diamonds.
Player skins now have extra layers of customization that can be accessed from the options menu in the game.
There's also a new female default skin called Alex.
So there you go, lots of fun new stuff to get stuck into!