Microsoft teased a few weeks ago that it was planning to reveal a Minecraft and augmented reality (AR) crossover today and it hasn’t disappointed. Called Minecraft Earth, the upcoming title for iOS and Android devices will expand the popular building videogame into the real world, encouraging fans to explore a new digital world, completely free of charge.
Essentially, Minecraft Earth is exactly the same as the standard version for PC, console and mobile, allowing fans to dig for resources, build towering structures, breed unique animal variants and fight strange horrible creatures. Only this time, rather than viewing a digital universe that you have to control a character in, this time you can physically move around it and see it displayed anywhere.
With Minecraft Earth, you can build small, taking up a table with a new creation. Likewise, if you want to think bigger and involve some friends then you can, creating lifesize castles, towers, palaces (whatever you can think of), which can then be explored by other players.
“When we say augmented reality, we actually mean augmented reality,” said Torfi Olafsson, Minecraft Earth’s game director reports Engadget. “It’s not just a geocaching game with 2% of it in AR. We decided to go head first and build the game from the ground up as an experience that you play both in your immediate environment, and out in the world, in parks and cities, wherever you are.”
Olafsson is likely referring to the highly popular Pokemon GO which is usually seen as the crowning example of AR gaming technology, even though its AR functionality isn’t required to play the experience and can be turned off to save battery consumption. Minecraft Earth is going to be a true AR videogame by the sounds of it, using the mobile screen as a window into a new digital universe.
Just don’t get too excited just yet. Microsoft will be holding a closed beta for Minecraft Earth this summer, which you can sign up for here (players must be 18 or older to participate). So there’s no release date at the moment. When those details are made available VRFocus will let you know.