A couple of months ago Microsoft revealed the development of augmented reality (AR) title Minecraft Earth, a free mobile videogame set to challenge the likes of Pokemon GO and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. A closed beta had been announced for this summer, and now Microsoft has confirmed it’ll be taking place in the next couple of weeks.
As the first live demo took place during Apple’s WWDC event, it’s no surprise that the beta will only support iOS devices, to begin with – an Android version will be rolled out at a later date. To mark this week’s update, a new video has been released showcasing what the actual beta will look like, with players able to walk around collecting ‘Tappables’. These can vary from blocks for building, animals or chests with interesting loot inside.
Collecting these will help you level up, and once enough materials have been collected you can start building on any flat surface using a ‘Build Plate’, a small section of the Minecraft Earth world. As you level up more plate designs are unlocked. These aren’t solo build areas either, you can invite friends to collaborate on designs. Once you’re happy with a creation this can then be placed in the real world at a life-sized scale, allowing to walk inside.
The Minecraft Earth beta will see a limited deployment as the team test aspects like the servers. To be part of the beta you’ll need to signup here and own a mobile device that runs at least Android 7 or iOS10. Signing up doesn’t guarantee you’ll be picked to take part. Spaces are limited, so if you’re chosen to participate and don’t play at least once every seven days then your spot will be given to someone else.
Unlike Pokemon GO which doesn’t need AR to actually work – with the option to switch it off to conserve battery – Minecraft Earth looks like it’ll be one of the very few geo-location style mobile experiences which is a true use of AR technology, rather than tagged on addition.
There’s been no official launch window for Minecraft Earth just yet. When details do emerge VRFocus will let you know.