At Apple’s WWDC 2019 this week Microsoft showed off gameplay of Minecraft Earth for the first time:
Minecraft Earth is a smartphone augmented reality game. It’s loosely based on Minecraft, but it’s definitely not the same game. You make your own creations with blocks, much like creative mode, then place them in the real world with AR.
Through Microsoft’s Azure Cloud Spatial Anchor system, everyone else will see your creation in the same real world position in AR.
Being at WWDC, Microsoft showed off how Minecraft Earth would be enhanced on iOS compared to Android due to ARKit 3. Version 3 is introducing human occlusion, which allows you to walk in front of blocks, or even over blocks on the ground.
Microsoft describes this feature as “only on iOS”, but it will be interesting to see whether Google’s ARCore adds a similar feature between now and the game’s eventual release.
This same cloud anchors technology was shown off for HoloLens 2 earlier this year. A demo even showed a user in a HoloLens 2 where another user with an iPad shared the same AR session. While Microsoft hasn’t said anything about Minecraft Earth coming to HoloLens, it seems the technology is there to make it possible if they wanted to.
While Earth brings the franchise into AR, many fans have been wondering about the VR version of the original game. While it was released on Rift and Gear VR back in 2016, it didn’t see a port to the Oculus Go or recently released Oculus Quest.