Meet the Ravager
How a magnificent monster of a mob came to be
If you take a cow, make it angry, and strap a crossbow-happy Pillager to its back, what do you get? You get a very confused cow. But if you were a development team looking to make a new threat for Minecraft – one that looks a bit like a cow with serious anger issues – you would get The Ravager.
However, a Ravager is far more than just a spicy cow. It’s the roughest, toughest, and perhaps the scariest challenge introduced in the Village & Pillage update.
After a few hours goofing around in the new update, I have a confession to make: Ravagers are terrifying. Say you’re playing Minecraft. It’s deep into the night, long after you should have gone to bed but the lure of unplundered dungeons is too strong to ignore.
It’s quiet as you roam the land at night. Spiders are easily dispatched, along with Creepers and zombies and witches. You, intrepid adventurer, are a deathless immortal, immune to the hazards that kill lesser creatures. It’s dark and quiet, the world is asleep, soundless like a whisper in space.
Then you hear it, the low moan:
And suddenly you need to launder your underwear at 3 o’clock in the morning.
Jens Bergensten, Minecraft developer and resident spicy cow designer, tells us how the Ravager came to be. “I started working on Ravagers all the way back in the Spring of 2017. We wanted to expand the concept of the Illagers and give them more toys to play with.” Toys with armor and horns capable of knocking you over? Reminds me of high school.
In designing the Ravager, Jens did his research, taking notes from popular monsters and mythological creatures. “I was mainly inspired by the Manticore from Dungeons and Dragons. It’s got this lion body with a human head, dragon wings, and a scorpion tail.”
Aha! That explains why the Ravager has… well, it doesn’t have a human head. Or dragon wings. Or a scorpion tale. Or look anything like a Manticore. OK, so Ravagers have exactly none of these traits, but hey, more inspiration and fewer copyright lawsuits!
While bearing no family resemblance, the idea of the Manticore did become the kernel around which the Ravager could be created.
“I just thought ‘what if I had a monster with a huge Illager head?’” Jens explains. “That was the starting point, and that’s where we started with our concept. But because of the way mobs work in Minecraft, it would have a really long reach. So it kind of shoots out its head and bites you as well.”
Like a cow with a snake’s head? Now I’m starting to see the Manticore influence! Also, yikes.
Cory Scheviak, another Java developer working on the Ravager, is quite proud of his half snake, half cow, all scary creation. “The beast is beautiful,” he says. That’s true, if you like snake cows – which I obviously do! Despite:
“We designed the Ravager because we wanted something that felt a little like a miniboss,” Jens continues. “But to be honest, I think a lot of the components to the Ravager came about because I thought it was fun. I wanted a goofy feel to it.
“The Ravager kind of looks like it’s a bit sad, but it really isn’t, and I thought designing a mob like that was way more fun than something that looked purely evil. It looks like it’s just really, really grumpy.”
As someone who’s had the soul scared out of them being surprised by a Ravager at midnight, I can say that it looks both grumpy and evil.
Bring your A-game when you face off against these creatures (better yet, bring a shield). They’ve got a lot of armor and a lot of pointy horns they aren’t afraid to use. But it could have been a lot worse. These monsters originally had a pretty brutal initial design involving crossbows strapped to their backs.
Jens chuckles away what would have been a perfectly awesome if dastardly idea. “We decided not to go with that because it was a bit much.”
“But, we figured we could get the same effect if we just put a Pillager on its back.”