Explore hidden structures, collect valuable resources, team-up with friends on fantastic creations.
Earlier this month, Microsoft teased Minecraft fans with a short video hinting at some type of upcoming augmented reality experience for smartphones.
More information was promised to arrive May 17th—the day after the games historic 10th anniversary—and wouldn’t you know it, the company followed up on their promise with the reveal of Minecraft Earth, and upcoming AR mobile game that will have players exploring and crafting their way throughout a variety of real-world locations.
Available for free later this year on compatible iOS & Android devices, Minecraft Earth will transport the legendary franchise into the real world with a heavy focus on the original games most essential elements: crafting, exploration, and survival.
The foundation of any solid Minecraft experience, players will of course be able to craft their way both above and beneath their real-world environments as if they were in-game biomes. Using a “Build Plate” which players can fix to any flat surface, players are free to begin crafting—or mining—their way through reality, so long as their projects remain within the set confines of that particular play space (you wouldn’t want any cows falling off the edge of the table after all). Players can also, at any point, instantly convert their Build Plate to life-size scale and walk throughout their project as they would in the original game.
Minecraft Earth features support for local multiplayer co-op, allowing players to invite their friends to collaborate on their personal projects in the same room; the development team claims that they can currently support up to ten players at one time.
Similar to the standard Minecraft experience, players will be exploring their environments in search of valuable resources—referred to as “Tapables”—such as common and rare blocks, unique animal variants, and various other useful collectibles they may stumble across while traversing local parks or markets. Speaking of locations, Minecraft Earth layers its Overworld map on top of real-world environments based off data from Open Street Maps.
This allows the program to avoid any potentially dangerous locations, such as busy streets or private property. As a result, a majority of the items and challenges you’ll happen upon will be located exclusively in public areas. The items and resources players discover throughout these areas will expand over time as the team continues to introduce special animal variants, such as mud-loving pigs or mushroom-hatching chickens, as well as various other in-game items. However, Tapable instances won’t be the only thing lurking around your local neighborhood; there’s always a threat lurking around the corner in the world of Minecraft Earth.
Arguably the most exciting portion of this announcement are the “Adventures.” Sort of like small Minecraft-themed minigames, Adventures are short AR-challenges tied to real-world locations that task players with completing a specific goal. This can include anything from mining a small crack in the ground and avoiding a wave of molten-hot lava, to clearing a castle of hostile mobs in search of rare treasure. Information on in-game combat is light, but according to Digital Trends’ Matthew Smith, it sounds as though players will have to physically move out of the way of incoming arrows in order to survive.
Players can team up with friends—or strangers—to complete challenges, of course you’ll then be faced with the even more challenging task of splitting the loot.
Microsoft will be hosting a closed beta of Minecraft Earth this summer with a full release planned for late 2019. Those interested can sign-up here. Although the company has confirmed the inclusion of microtransactions, they have promised the game will not be a “pay-to-win” situation.
Minecraft Earth runs on the exact same Bedrock Engine powering Minecraft on PC and features Microsoft’s new Azure Spatial Anchor system for improved object tracking.