With the massively popular survival/creation sandbox game Minecraft having just celebrated its tenth anniversary, what better time to officially announce the free to play Minecraft Earth for mobile devices?
Rumours of an augmented reality Minecraft game have been swirling for a while now – and sure enough, Microsoft has just unveiled Minecraft Earth. It looks to combine the real world interaction encouraged by Pokemon GO with the building and creation tools of the Minecraft we all know and love.
Check out the trailer below:
The game is currently being developed at Microsoft’s Redmond campus, and like Niantic’s Pokemon title, it’ll combine GPS and tracking technologies such as StreetMap to help bring the fun into the real world. The game is scheduled to arrive on iOS and Android smartphones this summer, with a closed beta to start.
The idea behind Minecraft Earth is that you’ll explore local neighborhoods, towns, and cities, and tap various buildings and landmarks on your in-game map to “mine” for resources such as building blocks. Collecting these will let you put together your very own models.
Players will even be able to embark on mini Minecraft adventures with friends by visiting landmarks and completing various tasks, which will result in earning new treasure and loot to level up your character.
Construction is where the game starts to deviate from Pokemon GO, of course. If you can find a flat area in the real world, such as a table, or sidewalk (but definitely not the M1 please), you can set up shop and start crafting what you like on a virtual Build Plate.
Once you do, a familiar Minecraft screen appears and you simply set about choosing which blocks you want to use and where you’d like to place them. The game’s art director Brad Shuber has promised Minecraft Earth is still the “full Minecraft experience” – it just takes place in the real world this time
He told The Guardian:
We didn’t reduce it, we didn’t remove features – it has [enemy] mobs and it’s completely multiplayer. It’s specifically designed to bring people together, not just through the game, but through physical proximity.
Incredibly, the idea is that once you’ve finished building something, you can blow it up to a larger size and walk around it via the magic of augmented reality. In theory, kids will be able to head to parks and run around giant castles and other madcap creations that they’ve all put together for each other. It sounds awesome.
I’ll be honest, I haven’t played Minecraft in years, but Minecraft Earth sounds mighty ambitous – and a ton of fun to boot. If it works as advertised, this should be a Summer that sits up there with that time we all fell in love with Pokemon GO.
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Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.