It was only a matter of time, right?
Minecraft is taking a step into the real world later in 2019, and it’s looking to examples like Pokémon Go for inspiration. We’ve seen Mojang’s global sensation flourish in virtual reality already, and now it’s taking aim on a new technological frontier: augmented reality.
The new game is called Minecraft Earth and it’s exactly what you would think, delivering an Android/iOS take on the Minecraft experience. It’s not quite the same as the game you know from PCs, consoles, smartphones, and tablets, but it does embrace the same core ideas.
For starters, it’s free to play. Microsoft isn’t yet talking about how players will be invited to spend money, beyond asserting up front that there won’t be “loot boxes.” McHugh described the monetization philosophy as “player first and player-friendly.” Minecraft Earth won’t be an ad-supported app. My guess is in-app purchases will take the form of resources and other time-savers.
When you step outside your home with the app in hand, you’ll be looking at a map of your surrounding area but re-written in the game’s trademark blocky look. It’s like Minecraft layered on top of the real world, with all the points of interaction you’d expect from the bigger game. You can dig down for resources, chop trees to pieces for wood, or go fishing in bodies of water.
“The idea here: Minecraft covers the planet,” Microsoft’s Stephen McHugh said during a recent call.
“The idea here: Minecraftcovers the planet.”
“So your neighborhood is blocks, you can walk through parks and neighborhoods and have different Minecraft adventures, you can find blocks and hidden chests. You can build everywhere … and go right inside your builds.”
The whole experience begins with “tappables,” the basic resource-gathering process in Minecraft Earth. It works sort of like PokéStops; whenever you venture out into the world you’ll come across interactive nodes in the game that you can tap on to receive resource blocks. It’s quick and easy, rewarding you with resources just for interacting with the game while you’re on the go.
That only covers your basic resources, however. Rarer blocks can be obtained by taking on Adventures. It’s not clear exactly how they’ll work, but McHugh described the mode as a “life-sized experience” that could incorporate things like lava and hostile or friendly mobs in addition to rarer resources. Adventures will also be multiplayer-friendly experiences.
Players will be able to scratch that Pokémon Go itch by collecting, raising, and breeding mobs of your own. It starts with feeding one of the random creatures you encounter and getting from it a spawn egg. You can then drop that spawn egg into your own, personalized building space, where it’ll hatch and give you a new pet.
That personal Minecraft Earth space is your build plate, which McHugh describes as “the core of our experience.” It’s where you can use the resources you’ve collected to put your own creative spin on the game. It’s also a multiplayer-friendly space, so your fellow Minecraft Earthplayers can hop in and behold the glory of your build and even help you add to it — activities that any Minecraft fan will tell you is always a part of the fun.
You won’t have to wait too much longer to find out for yourself. Microsoft is planning to kick off a closed beta for Minecraft Earth sometime during the summer. You can get more info on that from the game’s official Twitter account.