With the mighty success of Pokemon Go, Wizards Unite and other augmented reality games, it stands to reason that software giant Microsoft wants a slice of that action. After all, it owns one of the biggest brands in gaming: Minecraft.
It has bided its time but is now ready to capitalize on the popularity of AR for its Latest Game block-building mobile release, Minecraft Earth.
But what is Minecraft Earth? How does it work? And do you really have to stand in a park all day creating something on your phone? Read on to find out.
What is Minecraft Earth?
Microsoft’s Minecraft Earth could be a block building and journey game, much like the existing Minecraft for PC, consoles and mobile devices.
Where it differs is that it is solely designed for Android and iOS and uses augmented reality to overlay Minecraft creations onto the real world.
You can use your smartphone to build creations anywhere you like, placing them in parks, streets, even around and on top of your home. Then, other Minecraft Earth users can hold up their phones and view them.
It’s not just a solo experience. You can collaborate on builds with friends or fellow ‘crafters, with each of you using a tablet or phone to build and view the ongoing project.
And, if you’re worried about having to stand in a park for hours to build a masterpiece, you will be able to build something at home and then place it anywhere outside you like: “Work on a smaller scale with friends before taking your builds out into the wild at full size,” revealed Microsoft during the game’s unveiling.
There will be adventure and collection elements too, with the ability to battle Mobs (creatures that inhabit the world of Minecraft) either placed by the game or other players. Once found and collected, you can then place your own Mobs in Minecraft Earth builds.
Minecraft Earth gameplay and exclusive content
The game was first demoed publicly during Apple’s WWDC keynote at the beginning of June. We learned a few extra things about it during the on-stage presentation, not least that one of the features will be exclusive to the iPhone and iPad.
The demo showed gameplay that is relevant to both Android and iOS versions of the game, with two members of the Microsoft-owned studio Mojang interacting with a previously-built castle.
At first, it was small and Lego-sized, sat on a tablet, but was then moved onto the stage floor and resized into a life-size building. This is the sort of gameplay you can expect in the early access build that’s currently rolling out.
However, the AN iOS-exclusive feature was then discovered collectively of the developers was mechanically cut-out and placed within the Minecraft Earth world. The software automatically detects humans and can place them in a 3D space, placing virtual objects behind, to the sides and in front. This would usually have to be implemented by the developer manually. In addition, the ARKit tools can automatically recognize gestures for full, automated motion capture.
The Minecraft avatar within the demo, therefore, moved in sync with the player.
We’re not yet sure when this feature will be added to the game.
Other gameplay videos made by people playing the closed beta appeared online and that’s closer to what you’ll find in the early access build.
When and where is it available?
Minecraft Earth started as a closed beta on iOS and golem, for select users that signed up on the dedicated pre-registration page.
Now it is rolling out to select regions in its early access form.
You should follow the official Minecraft Earth Twitter account for updates on that regions have already received the most recent version of the sport.
So far, that includes the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Mexico, South Korea, Philippines, Sweden, Iceland, and New Zealand.
What platforms is Minecraft Earth available for?
Both Android and iOS are supported. You will need a device that is capable of running a decent AR experience, though.
That means you will need a device that runs either iOS 10 or Android 7.0 at the very least, as it is developed using Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore development software respectively.
Some of the options, such as the iOS-exclusive people occlusion discussed above, will need more recently released handsets.
How much will it cost?
The Minecraft Earth is totally free, with all paid parts locked-off within the closed beta (but may before long become on the market within the early access build).
The full version will be a free-to-play game, meaning you can download it at no cost and use it as often as you like without hidden fees.
However, while Microsoft is yet to fully detail in-app purchasing there will be a store to purchase extra Mobs and skins.
Saad Mushtaq was born and raised in the busy city of Abbottabad. As a journalist, Saad Mushtaq has contributed to many online publications including the PAK Today and the Huffing Post. In regards to academics, Saad Mushtaq earned a degree in business from the Abbottabad UST, Havelian. Saad Mushtaq follows the money and covers all aspects of emerging tech here at The Hear Up.Thanks
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