To date, Microsoft has largely been content focussing on Minecraft Earth impressive augmented reality elements. Now though, as part of the upcoming mobile title's closed beta reveal, we've finally been given a taste of its Pokémon-Go-esque location-based gameplay.
As in Pokémon Go (and, indeed, Niantic's recently released Harry Potter: Wizards Unite), the core of Minecraft Earth unfolds via a stylised map reflecting players' real-world surroundings - in this case, appealingly, if abstractly, rendered using Minecraft's iconic block aesthetic.
As players roam around the world, nearby items, known on as Tappables, appear on the map. By interacting with them, players can uncover their true nature - chests need to be tapped to reveal building materials inside, for instance, while mobs can be poked until they transform into distinctly skinned variations. All of which can be seen in the video below.
Players level up as new Tappables are discovered, and all collected resources and items are added to their burgeoning inventories. These can then be used to construct scenes in Minecraft Earth's already well-aired augmented reality portion.
As we've seen before, construction takes place within the confines of a "building plate", overlaid on the real-world through a device's screen. Players can move around, examine, and interact with these plates, and different themes can be unlocked by levelling up. Once everyone is happy with their efforts, a plate's contents can be blown-up to become life-sized, again overlaid on a real-world location, for more thorough exploration.
Minecraft Earth's augmented reality elements left a positive impression on Eurogamer's Tom Philips at E3, so this broader look at the experience's location-based features is certainly welcome, even if there's still plenty we don't know.
Everything seen in the video above will be available as part of Minecraft Earth's imminent closed beta, which is expected to begin within the next two weeks on iOS and later on Android. Interested parties can sign up for a chance to get involved via the official website.
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