Minecraft Earth, Microsoft's take on Pokemon Go, looks... actually fantastic

Saturday, 18 May, 2019

Fundamentally, it appears to be the basic Minecraft experience translated to augmented reality with geolocation features. Pokémon Go was a revolutionary step forward for AR gaming and although millions are still playing today, its impact somehow felt limited. You'll also be able to team up with other friends to collaborate on structures. (And not just when it comes to bringing a popular game world into the real one-that's a gimme.) The most obvious influence: A player's location-along with specific in-game events-will determine what they find in Minecraft Earth. The studio also promises new mobs and variants especially for Minecraft Earth. To build the kind of massive structures that Minecraft has become famous for over the years, you'll need to collect an terrible lot, which means you'll need to head out and explore to find more materials.

Minecraft Earth will be free to play when it launches. 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".

Microsoft first teased a new Minecraft AR game at the end of its Build 2019 introducing keynote last week, announcing at the time that more info would be revealed on May 17. All you have to do is to raise your phone and you will see what's going on. You also have to be 18 or over to join.

Minecraft Earth isn't launching broadly anytime soon, though.

Players will be able to scratch that Pokémon Go itch by collecting, raising, and breeding mobs of your own. We dropped a few chickens and cows into the world, and cackled as they fell into the pit. You'll be using the camera more, is what I'm saying. Miriam said he and Mojang are still working out the specifics, with a wink and a nod, so perhaps we'll see those hit vanilla Minecraft in the future, too.

Microsoft is planning to release Minecraft Earth in closed beta later this summer, although it's not clear how big that beta will be, either in terms of player count or geographically. Minecraft has already proven itself to be an unstoppable juggernaut, which is still growing after all these years.