Minecraft Update 1.9 now allows your character to fully utilize both arms. This might not sound like much, but it will dramatically enhance your method of playing. Now you can grasp a sword in one hand and a shield in the other or dig tunnels while placing a road. This will simplify the building process and allow for more efficient multi-tasking, eliminating the need to toggle between tools for simple tasks.
As you try this out for yourself, note that the system recognizes a main hand and an off-hand. The automatic setting is the right hand for the main and the left for the off-hand, but this can be switched under Skin Customization for those who favor playing left-handed.
This is useful in more than just combat situations, where it provides convenience and efficiency. A user can also utilize the dual wielding option during eating, mining, and building.
How does this work? On the bottom right side of the player avatar, you will find a slot with a shield outline, which represents the off-hand slot. Anything you place there should appear in your character’s left hand (on the default setting). For speedy use, press “F” to equip your left-hand and switch items out of your inventory into that hand.
You can use the item in your off-hand while your right hand is empty or unusable. The main hand always takes priority. Two actions cannot be completed simultaneously, as there is always a slight delay between using the first and second hand. While empty, the off-hand is invisible in first-person.
This update is exciting and useful. It does remain optional, as you can choose to ignore the addition of the off-hand and play as before. The choice stays up to the player to decide what is the most convenient and useful method to employ.