The game takes classic Minecraft mechanics and merges them with map-based, AR gameplay similar to games like Pokemon Go. You can collect materials while walking around your neighborhood and then use them to build AR Minecraft structures with your phone’s camera.
We also posted our full impressions piece of the game earlier today as well. Here’s a brief snippet of what we thought:
“Minecraft Earth feels very well intertwined with the ideas in the original Minecraft game. It takes advantage of existing, well-known Minecraft mechanics in a new way that feels like your world is transforming around you. Unlike Wizards Unite, there is true magic at work here.”
That being said, the game also isn’t without its faults. You can read more here.
We also posted a preview video showing the core gameplay, including the AR elements, and some of the game’s main features. You can check that out above or over on our YouTube channel.
Will you be jumping into Minecraft Earth, now that it’s available in the US? Or have you already given it a spin? Let us know in the comments below.
I’ve been a huge Minecraft fan since almost the beginning – I played the alpha that was embedded on the Minecraft site and then the downloadable beta version after that. I remember when the game finally “released” and hit patch 1.0. While I stopped playing regularly many years ago, I still consider myself a big fan.
So when Mojang announced Minecraft Earth, a map-based mobile AR game, I felt mixture of skepticism and curiosity. I’ve been spurned by similar AR games before, but was curious to see how Minecraft Earth might differentiate itself in the market. As more and more information came out about the game, including features like the “adventure” events, I started to feel that maybe there was enough to separate it from the competition and offer an experience built to Minecraft’s strengths.
As I noted in my Wizards Unite hands-on, these mobile map-based AR games work best when the activities and actions of the game directly relate to the franchise itself. That’s why I consider Pokemon Go to be a much more successful game, from a conceptual standpoint, than Wizards Unite – the act of walking around and catching Pokemon ties in perfectly with the franchise, whereas catching creatures from the Harry Potter universe doesn’t feel like it’s leveraging that property to its true potential.
The good news is that Minecraft Earth feels very well intertwined with the ideas in the original Minecraft game. It takes advantage of existing, well-known Minecraft mechanics in a new way that feels like your world is transforming around you. Unlike Wizards Unite, there is true magic at work here.
Mining And Walking In Minecraft Earth
It was a 95° F day in Melbourne when I first booted up the game. I had my account logged in, my headphones ready and a battery pack on hand, but I’d by lying if I said I was excited to go walking around in the heat for a few hours. However, after 5 minutes with the game, that completely changed. I got stuck in a gameplay loop that made me forget where I was and what streets I was walking down, completely ignorant of the heat until I was well past dehydrated and needed to stop for a break.
The game places your avatar on a map that tracks your position akin to Pokemon Go. From the get go, you can see Minecraft animals and little structures of blocks (which the developers call “tappables”) spread around your map. In the distance, you might see a large shaft of light, marking one of the “adventure” events available to play by yourself or with friends. When you’re in range of a tappable, you can tap on it a few times (which simulates the visual effect of mining in Minecraft) and the game will grant you with a few materials, varying in rarity.
Exploration rewards you with a stacked inventory full of materials, gathered from tappables and adventure events, that are taken straight from the original Minecraft game – dirt, cobblestone, sand etc. Even the beautifully familiar Minecraft soundtrack plays softly as you walk around, which weirdly helps create a connection between the world of Minecraft and the neighborhood you’re exploring.
I got completely immersed in the game for the first couple of hours – I had no idea what I would need materials for, or how I could use them, but I just kept going and collecting more. At home the next day, I realized that anything you collect in the world can then be used to build Minecraft structures and environments on ready-made “buildplates” in the game.
The only currently available buildplates in Minecraft Earth are sized as 8×8 blocks or 16×16 blocks and they are somewhat similar to LEGO buildplates. The only way to edit those buildplates is via AR on your phone’s camera. You can place a small version of a buildplates on a table and start adding to it with the materials you gathered from your trip outside. Then, you can save that draft and load it as a full-scale, 1:1 version (with 1 Minecraft block equaling 1 meter wide). You, and any friends playing with you, can then use the AR display on your phone to walk through a full-scale version of the environment you built a few minutes ago.
It’s an incredibly cool concept that many younger Minecraft fans will probably love. I found the feature cool but struggled to see myself regularly using it. After playing around with the AR structures, I went searching for more things to do in the game. It turns out that everything in Minecraft Earth leads you back to collecting materials to use on buildplates. The adventure events were amusing, and I can see kids enjoying them, but the two I completed only granted a few (slightly rarer than usual) materials. You can smelt and craft things too but, unlike Minecraft, these complete over time in the background per item, with more complex items or materials taking longer to complete. Anything you either craft or smelt makes something new to use on buildplates. In some cases, you might craft a sword to take into an adventure event, but then the adventure only rewards you with more materials for buildplates.
This is where I started to grow frustrated with the game. There just isn’t much to do that isn’t grinding for materials for buildplates. It doesn’t help that the buildplates you start out with are quite limited. You unlock more as you level up, or you can purchase some fancier ones with the in-game currency, rubies. You can acquire rubies as you collect materials and explore, but you will realistically need to purchase some via an in-app purchase if you want to get the fancy buildplates anytime soon.
Granted, this whole loop of collect-and-build-and-repeat might be perfectly okay for a younger audience. They might want to collect as many materials as possible for days on end and rush home to put their new items on a buildplate. But for me, I quickly lost any inclination to interact with the buildplates after trying them, which made the rest of the game feel a little bit pointless.
Early Days For Minecraft Earth
There’s also no way to permanently place buildplates in a location on the map, for others to then explore in their own game even when you’re not playing. Others can join a buildplate session while you’re playing, but every buildplate you put down is temporary.It only exists for you and anyone you invite for as long as you’re interacting with it. If you could place buildplates down on real world locations permanently, it would be a game changer and make the world feel much more connected. Being able to permanently place things for others to then explore, and being able to explore others’ structures that you stumble upon in the world, would make everything feel like it’s building toward something.
Still, everything currently on offer might be enough to keep Minecraft’s audience coming back for more. It certainly feels immersive and amazing to walk around the world, collect materials and use them in AR building. You get that same feeling of wonder and excitement you get in the original Minecraft game. As I said, it’s still early days and the game is still in early access.
Maybe over time the development team will mine further down, make some changes and find a diamond. But for now, cobblestone works okay.
Minecraft Earth is launching gradually across regions, but is available now in early access most major countries, including the United States, the UK, Australia and more.
This article and all recorded footage is based on time spent with Minecraft Earth using a Google Pixel 3XL running Android 10.
Death, taxes and Minecraft Earth launch countries – that’s what it feels like lately, with new launch countries for the mobile AR game popping up every few days. This time, it’s the United Kingdom’s turn to get building.
Tea, crumpets – and now also Minecraft Earth! Early access has arrived in the United Kingdom. Jolly good!
People living in the UK can now download the game, which is in early access and launching gradually worldwide, a few countries at a time. The United Kingdom joins New Zealand, Iceland, Australia, Mexico, Sweden, Canada, South Korea and the Philippines as launch countries. There is still no word on a United States launch, but given that the UK is one of the bigger markets that the game has launched in, a US launch might be coming soon.
The mobile AR game is Minecraft’s response to Pokemon Go and other map-based mobile games that get you out of the house and exploring the real world, intertwined with AR elements. You can build structures, craft weapons, collect materials by exploring your real-world neighborhood and fight monsters in AR during the “adventure” events scattered across the map.
While the game does share similarities to other map-based AR games, it also has its own nice Minecraft-spin to it that offers some nice points of difference. I’ve been able to try the game out here in Australia already, so you can expect a first impressions piece on the game soon.
What are your thoughts on Minecraft Earth? Have you tried the game out, and are you still waiting for it to launch in your country? Let us know in the comments below.
The Minecraft Earth release schedule seems to be speeding up a bit – just a few days after the last batch of countries, the new AR mobile game is now available in Canada, South Korea and the Philippines.
Queued up and ready to go! Today, three additional countries join the Minecraft Earth early access. Say hi to:
The game, while still in early access, is now available publicly to anyone in Australia, Mexico, Sweden, New Zealand, Canada, South Korea, the Philippines and Iceland. The release schedule is gradual, rolling out a few countries at a time. With Canada, Australia and South Korea now on the map, it looks like we’re getting closer to a release in some of the bigger markets like the US and the UK.
Minecraft Earth is Microsoft’s response to the mobile AR craze that started with Pokemon Go. You’ll have to get out of the house and explore the real world and use AR to build structures and complete “adventure” events set in the Minecraft universe. You can also collect materials, craft items and smelt resources just like you can in the original version of Minecraft, but not without a few changes to adapt it to the AR-based mobile platform.
I’ve been jumping into Minecraft Earth here and there since the Australian release last week, and it’s definitely an interesting spin on existing AR-based mobile games like PoGo or Wizards Unite. You can expect a first impressions piece, and other Minecraft Earth content, coming soon.
Have you been able to dive into Minecraft Earth already, or are you still waiting for the game to release in your country? Let us know in the comments below.
After an initial launch in New Zealand and Iceland, Minecraft Earth early access is now available in Australia, Mexico and Sweden. The game is gradually rolling out across a few countries at a time, seemingly in smaller markets first.
Early access is in full swing and rolling out around the world! We’re working around the block to bring everyone into Minecraft Earth. Here are today’s countries: Australia Mexico Sweden More info on our early access plans
While it’s still launching in early access, this gradual launch is not restricted and is available to anyone, provided you’re in one of the supported launch countries. Minecraft Earth previously launched a closed beta for select players only, and early access marks the first time the game is available publicly.
This is Minecraft’s response to Pokemon Go and other map-based mobile games that get you out of the house and exploring the real world, intertwined with AR elements. You can build structures, craft weapons, collect materials by exploring your real-world neighborhood and fight monsters in AR during the “adventure” events scattered across the map.
I downloaded the app today and gave it a try. While it’s still early obviously, there are some really fun elements that hark back to 2011 and give me major Minecraft nostalgia. The game still has a lot to offer that I haven’t checked out yet, but it does also feel somewhat distinguished from other similar AR games like Pokemon Go and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.
There’s still no concrete word on when the game will launch in some of the larger markets like the US or the UK. The best indicator we have is on the Minecraft Earth site, which just indicates it will launch in more countries “in the coming weeks.”
Be sure to keep an eye out for more Minecraft Earth coverage from us in the next few weeks. If you’re in one of the supported early access countries and you’ve tried the game out, let us know in the comments below.
We first heard about Minecraft Earth about two months ago in mid-May when developers Mojang released an announcement trailer and then last month debuted actual gameplay for the very first time. Now, they’ve got a brand new beta announcement video that goes over more details regarding the game’s mechanics and gameplay:
Basically you’re presented with an overworld map that looks strikingly similar to Pokemon Go, complete with a Minecraft-style block avatar complete with skins. It uses the actual world map to create the environment. You walk around and tap on items like animals and blocks to collect them. Naturally, they’re called “tappables” in Minecraft Earth.
Once you collect enough tappables, you level up and once you have enough resources you can build things that are placed into the real world from your phone screen. It’s described as a “living, breathing” Minecraft world. It includes multiplayer seamlessly integrated where people can help “or hinder” your creations. Then you can scale creations to life-size to explore and see in the world around you.
I haven’t tried it yet, but honestly, it looks impressive.
The limited iOS beta for Minecraft Earth is due out within the next two weeks, which means sometime before July 26th. Only a “limited number of players in a few select cities” will be chosen before a wider release this summer.
It looks like Minecraft is getting ready to take on Pokemon Go.
A new teaser trailer released by Microsoft this week basically confirms that Minecraft AR is in the works. The short clip sees someone pick up another person’s phone only to discover an AR version of the game. The unmistakable pixelated blocks line the floor of the real world and a pig trots around on them. Later two other virtual characters spot the player and run off.
You can also see Minecraft’s classic UI at the bottom of the screen. That, to us, suggests there will be elements of the original game in here, though to what extent remains to be seen. Will there be multiplayer support? If so, will other Minecraft players get to connect with those in AR? There’s certainly a lot of possibilities here.
It looks like the game is being played on an Android handset, though no release platforms have been confirmed.
It’s interesting to see this app teased for smartphones and not Microsoft’s latest AR hardware, HoloLens 2. Minecraft was initially used to promote a world of possibilities with the first HoloLens. Since then, though, Microsoft has skewed the platform off to be an enterprise-level device. Turns out most Minecraft fans probably don’t want to pay $3,500 to see the game in AR.
Smartphones, meanwhile, have become the home of early VR. Pokemon Go was a huge success and now everyone, including developer Niantic, is trying to replicate that by bringing other brands to AR.
We won’t have long to wait to find out more about Minecraft AR, at least. The video tells everyone to ‘Tune in’ on May 17. That’s a week on Friday.
Minecraft has been one continual success story since its launch in 2009, with Microsoft buying the IP and developer Mojang in 2014. Recent years have seen the sandbox videogame come to virtual reality (VR) headsets like Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR. Now it looks like Minecraft is making the leap to augmented reality (AR), with Microsoft releasing a teasing video during its Build conference this week.
The video features Minecraft creative director Saxs Persson sat on a bench. He gets up and as he leaves picks up the wrong phone. The woman sat next to him realises his mistake and gets up to let him know, looking down at the phone to see an AR version of Minecraft running. On the screen is a pig wallowing in the mud, with icons at the bottom for a players sword, bow, food, blocks and other items.
As the video comes to an end it states to tune into Minecraft.net on 17th May, when further information will be released – it also happens to be the videogames’ 10th anniversary.
There’s not much else to go on in terms of gameplay, whether players will be wandering the streets building weird and wonderful structures together or possibly going on quests to fight cubed shaped monsters. Obviously, there will be instant comparisons to Pokemon Go, probably the most popular and well-known AR title.
Minecraft fans will also want to know about cross-platform support, and whether the AR version will allow interaction with players on PC, console or in VR, rather than being a standalone experience.
When it comes to AR Microsoft has been more concerned with its enterprise-focused HoloLens headset. HoloLens 2 was revealed earlier this year during the Mobile World Congress (MWC) event. More recently a HoloLens 2 Development Edition was revealed including a 3-month trial version of Unity Pro for studios.
Check out the teaser trailer below, and when further details are released VRFocus will let you know.
At the Vision Keynote during the first day of Microsoft Build 2019, we saw a short trailer of what looks to be Minecraft AR, an upcoming experience coming to mobile devices. Watch the video here and join us for the full reveal on May 17.
South African startupSpeak Geek?recently teased an update to their project that aims to replicate the official Microsoft version of Minecraft for HoloLens, the company’s $3000 AR headset, and put it on mobile devices capable of running Google’s ARCore and Apple’s ARKit.
This is the company’s second attempt at bringing Minecraft to AR, the first taking place in 2015 right after the multiplayer version for HoloLens was unveiled. Now, with the release of Google ARCore and Apple ARKit, Speak Geek? says they’re streamlining their first attempt to make a smoother experience for users to view their worlds in AR.
The app interfaces with Minecraft via Forge and the Raspberry Jam Mod. You then find an open world via WiFi and display it.
While the prototype only incorporates a viewer function at this time, the company says they have their eye on building a complete Minecraft client which would include a way to interact with the map via “minions” who you could order to collect resources while away from the PC. The company maintains that these ideas aren’t currently implemented, but could become a reality in the near future.
With enough support, Speak Geek? says they’ll release a version soon to a select group to start playing. Keep an eye on the MinecraftAR for more updates.