Microsoft's big experiment in real-world augmented reality gaming, "Minecraft Earth," is now available in select countries, including the US and UK. Here's everything you need to know about the highly anticipated AR mobile game.
"Minecraft Earth," which was first revealed in May, is a mobile game that takes the popular open-ended sandbox game and turns it into an augmented-reality experience on your phone, similar to what other popular AR games like "Pokémon Go" and "Harry Potter: Wizards Unite" have done with their franchises.
The game essentially lets you explore, gather items, find monsters and go on adventures in an AR-environment on your smartphone. As you make your way around the game's map, you will come across "tappables" in the form of trees, treasure, chests, chickens and other familiar Minecraft objects, which you can collect and keep in your inventory.
Rubies are a virtual currency and a valuable gem to buy things in the Minecraft Earth Marketplace, such as Buildplates. You can earn Rubies through tappables! Each time you collect from a tappable, you have a chance to find Rubies! You will also be able to purchase Rubies in the Marketplace if you need more.
You can build structures and place them in the real world at full scale. Each full-scale block is 1 meter high, and you can deploy structures with 256 blocks, which means you'll need some open space if you're planning on undertaking a big project.
Once you've built your structure, you can walk around the interior of your castle or fortress, open and close doors, breed cave chickens, among other things. Thanks to the online multiplayer aspect, "Minecraft Earth" players can also team up to create impressive models.
And of course, because it's Minecraft, you may also stumble upon events like surviving a skeleton attack or avoiding a pool of lava to uncover treasure. These can be completed alone or with the help of friends for additional rewards.
Like "Pokemon Go," this game is meant to be played outdoors using the game's map and as you collect items you gain experience points, or XP, which helps you level up. Your inventory is unlimited so you can collect as many items as you like.
You can hit "Invite Friend" in Buildplate to generate a QR code. Friends nearby that also have the game installed can scan this QR code using the "Join Friend" feature from the main Minecraft Earth map and they'll be placed into your Buildplate! From there, you can both interact with your Buildplate just as you would any Minecraft world. However, you need to be in the same location to build together. When you (the owner of the Buildplate) stop playing, all other players are also disconnected. You can both invite friends to join you in diorama build mode, and in life-size play mode.
The game has already started rolling out in early access across the globe, first arriving in Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Australia and United States in addition to other countries. You can download it for iOS and Android devices. You will need a mobile device running iOS 10 and Android 8 or newer.