The adventure update that was in pre-release testing for a few days has now been cleaned up and officially released, and the changelog for the entire version is absolutely massive and I plan to report on every single one of them after the jump. This is huge.
First off, the biome code has been rebuilt from the ground up. This makes the world look a bit more natural and biomes now include oceans. Each area in the game is given a “rainfall” and “temperature” which causes anything from deserts to tundra to rainforests to spawn on the map according to the seed. There are now 10 biomes including the ocean. Randomly generated ravines, NPC villages, and mineshafts are now easy to find and make the world more treacherous. Ice spread issues were cleaned up and the maximum height of the world depends on a single variable. The world height top to bottom is still 128 but it can be modded easily now. Mushrooms were changed a bit by adding huge mushrooms that spawn randomly or can be created by using bonemeal on a regular mushroom, and they no longer spread infinitely. Caves will now have far fewer dead-ends and the issue with vines spreading all over the place like tiberium veins has been corrected.
Along with mineshafts and ravines, you can now find underground strongholds generated randomly, and they look better than any of the crap that I build. Strongholds are wooden areas with doors, books, fences, and iron bars. Worth raiding for furniture.
Then you get the Endermen, a new mob that rearranges blocks until you stare at them, then they immediately become hostile and attack whenever you stop looking at them. Dangerous buggers in large numbers. New mobs aside from them are Silverfish which live in fragile stones, and blue spiders which bite and poison, making them more dangerous than your average spider.
Graphically, a Field of View and Brightness slider was added so that the screen can be adjusted according to your preferences since it reaaaaally sucks to not be able to alter those. The light rendering was changed to use multitexturing instead of colors, making it look far nicer and explosions were made to look prettier. Field of View is how dynamic the camera is, such as the view widening when you sprint.
Onto actual gameplay changes. Sprinting was added to the game since Steve is pretty slow, and critical hits were added for battle, dealing 50% more damage and an extra point to make weaker weapons viable. Considering most mobs in Minecraft have very little health this is a very welcome change. The game now keeps track of the ‘type’ of damage done to you and some of those ‘types’ ignore defenses and armor, such as drowning or catching fire.
Another addition is hunger, which may not be welcome to most players. The hunger meter doubles as a stamina meter, and when maxed out you will heal at a reasonable rate, but once it hits zero, you’ll start taking damage down to a minimum depending on the difficulty setting. Thankfully, food now stacks, but no longer restores your health directly and it takes time to eat. Eating raw chicken or flesh from a zombie will give you food poisoning so don’t do that.
Killing monsters will make them drop EXP orbs, but these sadly don’t do anything yet, but they may end up improving Steve’s stats, speed, agility, HP and other capabilities until he is pushed into lava by a pig. A more likely idea is buying skills with it but as of now they do nothing major.
Also, Herobrine was removed. Again.
For ease of use features, the server list now supports multiple servers like how Terraria does it, and F3+F toggles the fog. Shift-clicking while crafting will now craft the maximum possible stack which is a Godsend when you’re crafting a massive supply of armor and weapons on a PvP server.
A few bugs still remain, such as blocks outside of well-lit areas not looking like the block they’re supposed to, likely something wrong with the lighting algorithm and will be fixed in a later update. Silverfish and Endermen sounds haven’t been added yet, and Bukkit hasn’t been fully updated for 1.8 due to being a brand new release with a bug list likely as long as the changelog itself. Other than that, 1.8 is here and public at long last.