Microsoft Announces ‘Minecraft Earth’, a New Augmented Reality Game for Phones

Earlier this month, Microsoft teased a new game for smartphones based on the immensely popular Minecraft game. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much to go on other than it would be an augmented reality title.

But now we know exactly what that game is and what it will bring to phones this summer. The new game is called Minecraft Earth, and it’s similar in scope to that other popular AR game, Pokémon GO from Niantic Labs. Except you won’t be catching digital pocket monsters with poké balls.

The game will allow players to place virtual blocks in the real world, as well as interact with virtual characters from the game, too. This is not meant to be a direct replacement for the standard Minecraft game, as the title’s director, Torfi Olafsson describes it as an adaptation. But the unique use of AR should really help it stand out.

Olafsson described the planet Earth as being covered in Minecraft, which means you can find interesting and fun things to do wherever you go. Find yourself at a lake? In Minecraft Earth that means you can get some fishing done. And in a forest you can cut down digital trees to get some wood. There are also what are called “tapables”, which will dispense rewards if you find them. These in-game devices will be scattered at random over the globe.

It is still possible to get some in-game adventures, too. These are occurrences that take place in Minecraft Earth that can lead you down a path where you’ll face in-game monsters. If you lose the battle, you can lose the gear you’ve collected as well. Some other adventures will be much more peaceful, though.

These adventures are meant to be played with friends, or other players in general, as well. You’ll need to be in the same spot to start playing, but once you do you’ll see the same monsters and in-game effects as the adventure goes along. That should make for a fun social experience.

Minecraft Earth launches this summer in a closed beta, but no word on how many people will be let in at first. What’s more, the company is still trying to nail down any monetization that will be in the title. That could leave it open to in-game purchases, or a flat, one-time upfront payment to access the title.

We Want To Hear From You

What do you think of the newest Minecraft game? The AR features do seem pretty awesome. Will it be able to take on the upcoming Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, or even dethrone the reigning leader, Pokémon GO? We’ll find out this summer.

[via The Verge]