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Meet the Pillagers

The worst seeds of the Illager family

Aaah, the village. Once a place of peace, a nexus of happiness, a safe haven for everyone to soothe their souls in a never-ending mantra of “HRMM!”. Who in their right mind would dare to ruin this sanctuary of perfect balance? Now, the easy answer would be the crossbow-wielding Pillagers – the all-new threat of the Village & Pillage update.

But in reality, the true villain for all this upcoming village discord, is, in fact, Mojang. Why would those dastardly developers do this? In short, because it was time to give the Overworld a worthy adversary.

“For a long time villages have always been a very serene, peaceful place, except at night when zombies would come, and then it was anything but that,” says Cory Scheviak, developer on the Minecraft Java Edition. “There’s never been a group of adversaries that maybe had it out – or perhaps even felt jealousy – for the villager lifestyle. With villages and villagers getting a new fresh coat of paint, we felt that it was time for them to also get a new challenge, to balance out their luxurious lifestyles they’ll be living.”

Villagers have reason to be terrified. While most Illagers prefer the solitude of huts or woodland mansions, the Pillagers are a different story. They’re more adventurous than the rest of their kin, willing to journey out into the world in hunter-esque fashion and explore as much as possible. While this outgoing lifestyle may be fine for them, it’s bad business for everyone else. Players will find these enigmatic evildoers roaming around the Overworld in smaller patrols, at fortified outposts, and of course – during raids against poor defenceless villages.

“We felt that it made a lot of sense for this mob to not be hidden away,” Cory explains. “We wanted them to make the world feel active and show that there’s life outside of the radius of the player. Give a real sense that there are things going on outside of the area that the player is in.”

“Maybe they’re not the biggest nose in the Illager bloodline!”

Adding the Pillager not only meant bringing in a new member to the Illager family, but also a new kind of ranged mob. While mobs like Vindicators and Evokers are considered fierce and powerful, the team took a different approach with this new adversary, with Cory responsible for its design.

“I thought that Pillagers didn’t have to be so serious, and maybe that they could even be a bit goofy and quirky? They’re still enraged by the player, but not that smart. Maybe they’re not the biggest nose in the Illager bloodline!”

While ranged mobs like skeletons do their very best to avoid getting hit by the player and move out of the way of arrows, pillagers can be quite stupid. Once they pick a target, they’ll just stand still as they try to hit it. This usually leads to a lot of friendly fire.

“They shoot each other all the time!” admits Cory. “When hit by the arrows, they go “OW!” and they’ll turn around to look at the Pillager responsible, then go back to shooting their target. When that happened the first time I was like ‘Yeah, that makes a lot of sense because not every Illager needs to be smart and nefarious.’ It’s very fun.”

Even though they’re armed with crossbows – the latest weapon technology the Overworld has to offer – the Pillagers aren’t very good at using them. Years of frequent training on local target blocks has done nearly nothing to improve their aim. Despite this, Pillagers are the backbone of the Illager raids, and what they lack in skill, they make up in pure numbers. How on earth will players be able to defend themselves once a swarm of Pillagers descend upon a village?

“Meeting a bunch of Pillagers ready to shoot at you can be quite intimidating, but it’s also kind of not at the same time,” Cory explains. “because once they fire, then you have at least a second to go in and attack before they can shoot you again!”

So any advice for the players before the Pillagers storm into Minecraft? “It’s really good to have a shield,” Cory recommends. “If you don’t have a shield you’re going to get hit by a lot of arrows. But if you have a shield, they’re basically powerless against you, so in that sense, they’re very weak in one way and strong in another.”

With all this new insight into the mind of the Pillagers, I sort of feel bad for the little guys. You know what Pillagers, you can come and raid my village whenever you want to!

Per Landin was never heard from again.

Per Landin
Written By
Per Landin

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