Minecraft is coming to life as the blocky builder is being infused with augmented reality technology and being released onto mobile devices as a new game called Minecraft Earth, letting you collect and create all kinds of stuff in real-world settings using your device as the window to the world of Minecraft.
Though Minecraft has been around for quite some time both in and out of beta and on many different platforms, including on mobile as Minecraft Pocket Edition, never has it been available in such a way where you're able to see your creations in front of you as if they were being built physically in your world.
Augmented Reality on mobile devices was certainly popularized by companies like Niantic with games such as Ingress and the more recent as well as much more popular Pokémon GO, but Minecraft Earth makes use of the technology in a way fans of the game franchise have been excited about since Microsoft showed off an AR version of the original game using its HoloLens hardware.
The difference here, is that Minecraft in AR via Minecraft Earth makes the prospect of building anything you can dream up on top of the real world a much more accessible affair thanks to it being on mobile devices, as many more people are likely to hold a smartphone in their hands than have access to a HoleLens headset.
Perhaps, then, Minecraft Earth has been Microsoft's plan all along when it came to a more widespread and fully accessible augmented reality version of the game. All that aside, Minecraft Earth will breathe new life into an old favorite, letting you see your creations like never before.
For example, you'll be able to take a stroll through your local city and you might just stumble upon any number of the Minecraft mobs in real life that you're familiar with from the regular game. Minecraft pigs, Enderman, you name it, and the game is designed to let you collect these mobs as you come across them so you can then use them in your own builds. You'll even be able to breed unique mobs over time.
What's more is that you'll be able to team up with other Minecraft Earth players and collaborate on special projects that might just be too challenging or too time consuming for one person to complete on their own, giving the game a social aspect that encourages interacting with other players to keep things interesting.
Other elements of the game are mentioned as well, such as mini-adventures with other players, taking on challenges, and battling feisty mobs out in the wild, though the game's creators don't really go into too much detail on these particular features so it's likely that players will simply have to wait until the beta or the game's full release to discover them.
If Minecraft for you has always been more fun as a social type of game, there's more good news as Minecraft Earth will let you share your creations with others and you'll be able to explore others' creations as well, perhaps sparking some creative ideas that you may not have thought of before.
For now there's no time frame for release but there is a limited beta that will be available for players this Summer, but it's unclear on exactly how limited it will be, so if you're even the slightest bit interested you may very well want to sign up as soon as possible for your chance to be a part of it.