New default Minecraft skins bring back Steve’s beard

Mojang has updated the default Minecraft skins, bringing back Steve’s beard from early versions of the sandbox crafting game and improving the look of Alex

Minecraft skins bring back Steve's beard - Minecraft steve striding forward, pickaxe in hand and goatee on his face

Mojang has changed the default Minecraft skins, Steve and Alex – and Minecraft Steve’s beard is finally back after years sporting a clean-shaven look. The iconic blue-shirted face of the crafting game, Minecraft Steve’s original model featured a brown goatee – which many players mistook for a beaming smile – but it was removed in an attempt to offer a more gender-neutral look for the sandbox game’s default character.

In 2014, another default skin was introduced to Minecraft – Minecraft Alex. Featuring a green top and longer red hair tied into a ponytail, Alex offers a slightly more feminine look than Steve’s model. Microsoft studio head for Minecraft Helen Chiang said in a 2018 interview that the company wanted the Minecraft brand to subvert traditional gender stereotypes by presenting Alex and Steve as having identical physical qualities and capabilities.

Now, with the two options available to players, a decision has been made to bring back Steve’s famous goatee. A post to the Minecraft subreddit highlighted the new skins – which also improve the shading on Alex to give the second character model a more natural three-dimensional look. The response so far is largely one of celebration, with fans particularly excited to see Steve’s original bearded look returning.

Many commenters say that they’re glad that Steve now once again matches the look given in most official art – including the character’s appearance in Nintendo brawler Super Smash Bros Ultimate. “I can see why they originally removed it,” says the most upvoted comment in the Reddit thread at the time of writing, “but it was clearly a big part of Steve’s design, and it seems Mojang agrees. Glad to see it officially back after all these years.”

Minecraft skins - new designs for Minecraft Steve and Minecraft Alex

Minecraft lead artist Jasper Boerstra took to Twitter to comment on the change, saying, “I’m happy you like the return of the beard!” Boerstra also notes that some classic banding and ‘pillow shading’ techniques are used in the new skins “to add a bit of that OG jankiness,” but asks players for their thoughts on whether this decision is a good one or not. The skins also include classic options, if you prefer the older looks.

If the default look of Steve and Alex still isn’t to your liking, fear not – we’ve got the best Minecraft skins for you. We’ve also got all a guide to all those handy Minecraft console commands, and our pick of the best Minecraft mods. Did you know, by the way, that Minecraft Redstone is full of radioactive uranium? Makes one think twice about what goes into putting your home together – but take a look at the best Minecraft houses for some cool build ideas anyway.