So what is it? As executive producer, Jesse Merriam put it: “Everywhere you go, you see Minecraft. And everywhere you go, you can play Minecraft.” It starts with the map of course, which is created from your GPS location, that it lets you travel around a virtual version of your area, collecting items and participating in mini-games.
But this isn't some watered down version of everyone's favourite building game, this is straight-up Minecraft, with all the blocks, monsters and redstone switches you desire, but in AR format. You collect stuff so you can build with it and share your tiny, blocky worlds with friends.
The game is effectively split into three distinct experiences. The "overworld," powered by Open Street Maps, functions similarly to Pokemon Go's overworld, where you'll be able to see random "tappable" blocks and goods you can instantaneously add to your inventory. A quick tap on the map will collect them for you, but if you want some of Minecraft's rarer blocks, such as diamonds, for example, you'll need to jump into one of the procedurally-generated "adventures" that appear on the map.
Just like regular Minecraft, you'll be able to take your mined materials and build with them. "Build Plates," as they're called in Minecraft Earth, are your personal build spaces where you can utilize everything you've gathered to make huge crafts of your own.
You can condense the plate down to fit onto a coffee table, or blow it up to lifesize. You'll also be able to invite your friends from anywhere in the world to come and have a look at your creations and help you work on building them. Within a Build Plate, you'll be able to exchange your items, too, if you fancy a bit of trading.
You can sign up for the Minecraft Earth Beta for either iOS or Android here. The release is scheduled for later this year!