Explore, collect items, find monsters and go on an adventure in an AR world on your phone. Sounds like Pokemon Go from Niantic, right? It is not. It is Minecraft Earth, the new augmented reality app from Microsoft for iOS and Android phones.
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Minecraft Earth is the latest attempt to transform gaming on mobile phones via AR. Mobile gaming will generate $ 68.5 billion by the end of 2019, which, according to Newzoo, makes up 45% of the global gaming market. Augmented reality and virtual reality are linked as the future of immersive gaming, and although they have not yet taken off, a growing audience of gamers are taking to the streets to play not only Pokemon Go andbut also . (Consequently, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg .
Microsoft said it will roll out the game to Android and iOS players in the fall. I have been playing beta and early access versions of the game since I got access in early September, and here is my experience so far with the new AR game from Microsoft.
What is Minecraft Earth?
Minecraft Earth takes the popular open sandbox game and turns it into an AR environment on your phone, just like Pokemon Go and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite did for those franchises.
As you walk around using the game's map, you'll find & # 39; tappables & # 39; – trees, treasures, crates, chickens and other well-known Minecraft objects – that you tap to collect items that you want to keep in your inventory. You can also build models of structures and then place them on a full scale in the real world to explore alone or with friends. Each full-scale block is 1 meter high and the structures that you use can be 256 blocks high, Micorosoft said, so for large projects you need some open space.
And of course, because it is Minecraft, you come across adventures on your map where you, for example, have to survive a skeletal attack or avoid a lava pond to find a treasure.
When will Minecraft Earth be released?
Microsoft is slowly developing access to the game coutnry in the fall. Currently, the game (on Android and iOS) is now available in Canada, South Korea, Philippines, Sweden, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and Iceland.
Once it hits your area, download it from the app store and start playing.
Can I play on any Android phone or iPhone?
To play Minecraft Earth, you need an iPhone with iOS 10 or higher or an Android phone with Android 7 or higher. You must also have your Microsoft or Xbox Live account information to hand because you use it to set up your Minecraft Earth account after you download the game from the iOS or Android app store.
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Screenshot Clifford Colby / CNET
Like with Pokemon Go, you mainly play Minecraft Earth outside, using the game's map to collect items and find places to explore.
As you walk around, trees, pigs, crates and other Minecraft items spawn on the map. When you are within the reach of a tangible object, your phone will give you a slight vibration and you can tap the object to search for items to add to your inventory.
Collecting items gives you experience points or XP for leveling. Unlike some other AR games, the inventory space is unlimited, so you can collect as many stacks of oak or boulders as you want.
You can also earn experience points by participating in challenges and adventures (see What are adventures below for more information).
Find challenges by tapping the tab at the bottom of the screen with a sign on it. Tap the Challenges book to see your tasks, which can range from collecting animals and placing torches to building structures.
Note that the game blocks you from collecting items as you drive at speeds faster than 15 km / h – so go ahead and try to play as a passenger, but don't even think about building structures while you're behind it handlebar is.
Can you also play within Minecraft Earth?
Of course, to a certain extent. If you want to build, start with what the game calls building plates, which are prefabricated structures in the world that you can use to create your own design. In short, they save you time.
On building boards, it is easier to work indoors, where you can place the small-scale model on a table and go from there.
The game comes with five of these ready-made templates for free, and the store offers a dozen more that you can buy with rubies, the game's currency.
The build plates themselves each have 75 to 375 rubies. You can earn rubies while collecting items you found on the card, and you can buy them in bulk from the store with real money ranging from 40 for $ 1.99 to 950 for $ 39.99. See the "How do you build?" section for more information about building.
Once you have started a buildlplate, you cannot reset or reset it. You can of course rebuild everything that was originally on the buildplate using your sources.
How do you build?
With the "Build mode" you work on small-scale versions of structures. When you are satisfied with your creation, you place a full version on the game card.
This full-format "Play mode" version disappears after you finish it and everything you do with this full-scale version is not saved back into the build mode version of your structure.
And you can invite friends to help you build and explore structures. Even the smallest full-size structures are large, so make sure you have enough space to set up and explore your structure.
How do you make and smoke?
At the bottom of the card, tap Make Stuff icon (it is in the middle and shows a craft table, stonemason, oven and enchanting table).
To create an item, tap the Crafting area, select a recipe from the bottom half of the window, select how much of the item you want to create, and tap Craft. Each item takes a while – for example, a stone sword takes just over 3 minutes and a diamond pickaxe is 8 hours. You can now only create one item at a time, but you can create items in a subsequent update at the same time.
Melting works in the same way. Tap the melting area, choose a recipe and a fuel source, and tap Melt. Again, different items have different melting times. For example, glass needs 51 seconds.
You can speed up crafting and melting by spending rubies.
What about skins?
Minecraft Earth comes with the standard Steve and Alex skins, but you can change your skin by tapping your profile icon in the top left corner. From there, tap the Character tab and then tap Edit. You can now tap the Classic skins tab at the bottom right to choose a ready-made skin or the Character Creator tab in the middle to create our own custom skin.
You can also use Minecoins to purchase personalized items in the Character Creator. Minecoins range from 320 for $ 1.99 to 3500 for $ 19.99.
What are Adventures?
Screenshot Clifford Colby / CNET
Because it is Minecraft, you go on an adventure, including exploring caves and fighting skeletons. These adventures are marked on the map with a beacon and when you are within reach, tap to enter.
If you go on an adventure, you may have to dig or hack hostile mobs and you will be rewarded if you successfully complete it. And when you complete an adventure with a friend, everything you collect is shared. Adventures are timed, so mess too much.
I will continue to play the game as Microsoft prepares it for worldwide release, and I will keep this guide up to date with what's new. In the meantime you can also follow the experiences of GameSpot with Minecraft Earth.
Originally published this summer and updated with new information.