To make the underground more enjoyable, new minerals should be added. Similar to how nether quartz works. This way the thrill of discovering something remains without all the necessity of functionality in terms of progression an ore has. I think that this is a great way to add a new light source. A semi transparent mineral found in stone or perhaps a new block that glows. When mined this block drops shards that can be crafted into a block that is semi transparent and produces light. This could be dyeable or come in a natural color. In general this could be expanded upon to add new blocks to build with and perhaps add functionality like the natural light sources needed to illuminate the new caves or they could surround some ores and act as a way to track ores and add strategy to mining further.
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