What is Minecraft Earth? What you need to know about Microsoft’s ambitious new AR game

Microsoft has announced its most ambitious Minecraft creation yet – Minecraft Earth.

Minecraft Earth was unveiled by Microsoft on Friday. It’s a free-to-play augmented reality game that follows in the footsteps of Pokemon Go and will be available in beta this summer for iOS and Android.

It aims to build upon what’s gone before with tools to create and share in an AR world. The launch trailer showed off what you can expect from the new augmented reality adventure. Much like Pokemon Go, you will be able to see digital elements in the real world and interact with them in various ways. Minecraft Earth sets itself apart by allowing players to build permanent structures collaboratively.

In the game, you can build collaboratively with friends using something called “Build Plates”. Your creations can be built on a flat surface through your mobile phone. When you are done it can be placed in the AR world for all to see.

Related: Best iPhone games

Before you begin to build in Minecraft Earth, you’ll be tasked with exploring the real world in order to collect resources and complete challenges. Minecraft Earth players will also need to hone their survival skills – taking on hostile mobs just like you do in Minecraft. All these activities can be done individually or with friends.

The technology behind Minecraft Earth is Microsoft Azure Spatial Anchors AR tracking and PlayFab integration. How these elaborately-named technologies work to bring the in-depth augmented reality of Minecraft Earth to life is not completely clear. The Minecraft Earth trailer shows an elaborate and impressive game but opts to use CGI to showcase the AR world – not actual in-game footage.

The announcement of Minecraft Earth comes ten years to the day since the launch of the original Minecraft. Since then, Minecraft has sold over 176 million copies across the globe.

Why we’re different

Unlike other sites, we thoroughly review everything we recommend. We use industry standard tests to evaluate products in order to assess them properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. Tell us what you think - send your emails to the Editor.