You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Minecraft Earth’ AR Game Makes You Feel Like a Kid Again  

The success of “Pokémon Go” proved that augmented reality was a viable (and incredibly lucrative) option for mobile games. It’s no surprise then that “Minecraft,” another huge gaming brand, is jumping into the AR craze with a clever new take on its block-building gameplay.

Minecraft Earth” is an AR version of the popular exploration game that’s coming to iOS and Android later this year. Like the regular version of “Minecraft,” you’ll be able to hunt for resources and build fantastic structures out of pixelated blocks. The twist is that you’ll be doing all these things while walking in the real world.

At E3 2019 in Los Angeles, Swedish developer Mojang promised that “Minecraft Earth” would contain the complete “Minecraft” experience. You can still craft weapons and armor out of rare materials, breed animals, grow crops, and more. While this would sound familiar to anyone who’s played the original game, the added layer of AR makes all these tasks feel new again.

In the E3 demo that Variety attended, Mojang showed off how easy it is to create new builds and collaborate with other people. It starts with the Build Plates, items in your inventory that allow you to create a miniature version of your build (like a dollhouse-sized structure) on any flat surface. Once activated, you can start placing blocks on it immediately.

Popular on Variety

Mojang already had a pre-built three-story structure for us to play with. When executive producer Jesse Merriam activated the Build Plate on a nearby table, the house rose out of the table’s surface. I walked around the table to view the house from different angles. I peeked inside the windows by bringing my phone closer to it. And I played with the pigs and cows roaming in the garden, building a little playpen around them with my blocks.  

Though a charming experience on its own, it wasn’t until the next phase of the demo that I realized just how wild “Minecraft Earth” can be. Merriam took the Build Plate and set it on a large carpeted area next to us, where the miniature house suddenly became a life-sized version of itself. My playpen was still there, as were the other modifications that the people in my group added in earlier.

That was when “Minecraft Earth” started to feel less like clever technology and more like magic. You can explore your creation as if it were a real place, using your phone or tablet to peer through the digital world. You can also keep building or digging if you want. I’m not a huge “Minecraft” fan, but even I couldn’t help but have a huge smile on my face as I walked around the house.

Merriam then turned on one of “Minecraft Earth’s” adventures, mini-missions that you can go on with other players. Familiar foes like skeletons, creepers, and zombies appeared in the house, and our group fought them back with swords and arrows. Playing these adventures is the only way to obtain some of the more rare building materials in the game.

Since Mojang wants to make “Minecraft Earth” accessible to everyone regardless of where they live, it won’t lock content behind geographic locations (like how “Pokémon Go” does with certain creatures). The studio wants all players to have the same experience.

“Everything in ‘Minecraft Earth’ should be able to be played in your neighborhood. [You shouldn’t] have to get a travel agent to go play,” said Merriam.

Mojang will launch a closed beta for “Minecraft Earth” this summer.

More Gaming

  • Riot Games

    Riot Games to Pay $10 Million to Settle Gender-Discrimination Lawsuit

    Riot Games, developer of “League of Legends,” will fork over at least $10 million to settle a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of women employees alleging the company’s “bro culture” resulted in systemic gender discrimination. Terms of the settlement in the case, reached in August, were revealed in court documents filed last week in California [...]

  • Dreamscape_Dragon vr

    Dreamscape Gets ‘DreamWorks Dragons Flight Academy’ VR Experience (EXCLUSIVE)

    Location-based virtual reality (VR) startup Dreamscape has teamed up with DreamWorks Animation to launch a new “How to Train Your Dragons” experience at its flagship Westfield Century City VR center in Los Angeles later this month. The 11-minute “DreamWorks Dragons Flight Academy” experience allows up to 8 participants to hone their dragon-flying skills together, and [...]

  • YouTube logo

    YouTube Eases Restrictions on 'Simulated' Violence in Gaming Content

    YouTube announced a change to its content guidelines that will be more permissive in allowing depictions of violence in video-game content — as long as it’s not the sole focus of a video. Starting on Dec. 2, YouTube said, scripted or simulated violent content found in video games will be treated the same as scripted [...]

  • Disney’s Frozen 2 and Laika’s Missing

    'Frozen 2,' 'Missing Link' Lead 47th Annie Award Nominations

    Disney’s “Frozen 2” and Laika’s “Missing Link” led the 47th Annie Award nominations Dec. 2 with eight each and will battle it out for best animated feature along with DreamWorks Animation’s “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” Netflix’s “Klaus” and Pixar’s “Toy Story 4” when the ceremony is held on Jan. 25 at [...]

  • Black Friday Deals: Oculus Rift, PlayStation

    The Best Black Friday Deals for VR Headsets, Apps & Games

    Getting your own virtual reality (VR) setup at home used to be costly, requiring not only an expensive headset but also a full-blown gaming PC. Not anymore: The latest generation of all-in-one devices has made VR a lot more affordable, and deep discounts for the holiday season serve as another incentive to finally make the [...]

  • Beat Saber Acquired by Facebook, Company

    Facebook Buys the Maker of the Popular VR Game 'Beat Saber'

    Facebook has acquired Beat Games, the maker of the popular virtual reality (VR) music game “Beat Saber”, the social media giant announced Tuesday. Beat Games will operate as an independent studio under Oculus Studios, and continue to support “Beat Saber” on all existing platforms, according to a blog post penned by Facebook AR/VR director of [...]

  • Kris Bowers, Alan Silvestri, and Catherine

    Alan Silvestri, Cynthia Erivo, Bebe Rexha Among Hollywood Music in Media Award Winners

    The 10th annual Hollywood Music in Media Awards rewarded a diverse crop of composers, songwriters and music supervisors who contributed to film, TV and videogames over the last year, from scorers Alan Silvestri, Hildur Guðnadóttir, Marco Beltrami and Michael Abels to tunesmiths Cynthia Erivo, Bebe Rexha and the Avett Brothers to Quentin Tarantino’s longtime music sidekick, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content