Minecraft Earth, the augmented reality spinoff from the popular block-building game is coming this month, it was finally confirmed last week. If you are a creative designer looking to let off some steam by building your Minecraft creations on the streets with augmented reality, you are about to be immersed into an experience that will transform how you view your town.
Minecraft Earth will be launching an Early-Access version of the game this month. This launch will occur in just a few territories around the world ahead of the expected global roll-out. While we now know the launch is happening this month, Microsoft has yet to unveil the exact date and the countries/territories that will be covered during the early-access.
Minecraft Earth was built by a team at Microsoft’s Redmond campus and lets players build models that can be viewed in real-world settings through the users’ phone cameras. Users will be able to build structures virtually anywhere, save them on their memory and then view life-sized versions of these models everywhere they go as long as there is sufficient space for virtual buildings created from 1m blocks that can be as high as 64 blocks.
The game will also put collectable Minecraft blocks and objects around your neighborhood. These are called tappables. When you are out and about walking in your neighborhoods, you will be able to view the map screen and see the treasure chest that is stored nearby. You can subsequently tap to open them up and find new resources that you can build with. These could be a window, stone or some planks of wood.
It is similar to the massively successful AR game Pokémon Go and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite in some respects. However, Minecraft Earth contains some specific story events connected to various locations which players can discover and then interact with.
Like Pokemon Go, you can play Minecraft Earth with smartphone AR rather augmented reality headsets. It will therefore be much more accessible enabling hundreds of millions of players with smartphones to immerse themselves into the world of Minecraft and see and shape out their real-world environments into virtual Minecraft civilizations.
The early access has come on the heels of the closed beta that came out in summer. The early access will be available on both iOS and Android.
Here is a guide with everything you need to know to get started on Minecraft Earth.
What is Minecraft Earth?
Microsoft will begin rolling out an early access of the Minecraft Earth game in select regions starting this month. A global roll-out of the AR game will happen by the end of fall. Once the game becomes available in your region, you can begin playing immediately.
Interested users can sign up to be part of the Minecraft Earth early access program. If you are an Android user, you can preregister for the game and you will receive a notification once it is available.
What Phones Can You Play On?
For iPhone users, your phone must be running iPhone iOS 10 or later to play Minecraft Earth. Android-based phones must be running Android 7 or later. Additionally, you will need an Xbox Live or Microsoft account. If you already have the accounts, make sure you have the account info ready as you will need this to set up your Minecraft Earth account once you have downloaded the game either from the Android or iOS app store.
How to Play Minecraft Earth
Just like Pokemon Go, the game is mainly played outside. You will use the Minecraft Earth map to locate the items that you should collect and the places to explore.
As you will be walking around, several Minecraft items will spawn on the map including chests, pigs and trees among other items. Once you come within the range of a tappable object (collectable objects and blocks), your phone will emit a small vibration and you can then tap the object in order to add it to your inventory.
As you collect items, you will get experience points or XP that you will use in leveling up. The space for inventory in Minecraft Earth is unlimited enabling you to stack up on as many items (cobblestones and oak logs) as you want.
Can Minecraft Earth be Played Inside?
You can play the game indoors to a certain extent. When planning to build Minecraft worlds, you will begin with the buildplates. These are prefabricated in-world structures that players can use in creating their own designs. The buildplates will save you time.
Also, it is much easier to work the buildplates indoors where you can easily put the small-scale models on a tabletop and then proceed from there.
Minecraft comes with five free ready-made templates. You can also purchase a lot more from the game’s stores using rubies, which is the Minecraft currency.
The buildplates cost 75 to 375 rubies each. The rubies are earned as you gather items that are found on the map. You can also get them through in-game purchases where you can purchase them in bulk using real money. Prices range from $1.99 for 40 to 39.99 for 950.
There is a grayed-out tab that even promises to allow players to smelt ores and craft items. According to Microsoft, these features, along with new mobs are set to be added to Minecraft Earth along the line. An Adventures feature is also set to be rolled out in the future.
How to Build in Minecraft
With the “Build Mode”, you can begin crafting out the small-scale models of the structures. Once you are ok with the structures that you have created, you can then put a full-size version of your creation on the game’s map.
The full-sized version of your structure, or the “Play Mode”, disappears once you are through with it. All the changes made on this full-scale version are not saved back on the “Build Mode” version of the structure.
A Multiplayer Mode
It is even possible to invite friends to assist you in building and exploring the structures. The multiplayer mode allows players to meet in Minecraft in a less structured way. It allows players to meet in an “ad hoc” manner and explore the worlds together. There are even puzzles that require multiple players to solve.
Keep in mind that even the smallest full-size structures will be massive so you must ensure that you have sufficient space to position and explore your structure.
The Adventures feature in Minecraft
Minecraft Earth offers various adventures that players can indulge in. These range from battling skeletons to exploring caves. The adventures are marked on the game’s map and players can tap to enter these adventures when they are within range of them.
To access and go to the adventures, players may have to chop, dig or battle some hostile mobs. They will subsequently be rewarded when they complete these tasks. When players complete adventures in collaboration with a friend, the items that they collect will be shared. The current Minecraft Earth beta does not include support for Adventures although Microsoft has stated that it will include these in later builds.
The World Map is Constantly Undergoing Improvement
The world maps on the Minecraft Earth game are generated based on OpenStreetMap. There is a community of mappers that fills in the database of the free project using geo-data and keeps this data up to date.
Minecraft Earth creators are relying on input from the community to improve the areas that have not been perfectly mapped in OpenStreetMap. According to the Minecraft Creative Director Sasx Persson, filling in the maps with information on parks, trails, various local conditions and opening times is a fairly easy process.
Once a month, the entire world on Minecraft Earth will be updated and filled with freshly collected data from OpenStreetMap. As the community of users feed in more crowdsourced data, their locations will be mapped more extensively and in greater detail on Minecraft Earth. There will also be lots of collectables and special places where users can experience adventures which promises to be the most exciting part of the augmented reality version of Minecraft.