Minecraft Earth, the franchise’s augmented reality mobile title, will be launched in early access beginning in October. Publisher Microsoft made the announcement today during its online Minecon 2019 event. The company also revealed that the core game’s next update will be called the Nether Update.
A free-to-play game, Minecraft Earth is currently in a closed beta in a small number of cities, including London, Seattle, Stockholm and Tokyo. The early access launch will be staggered across countries.
“We will release in a few smaller markets initially,” Microsoft said in a statement, “and once we’re performing well in those markets, add more and more countries every few days/weeks until eventually we’re worldwide by this holiday.”
In Minecraft Earth, players use their Android and iOS phones to collect building resources from the real world via “tappables,” in a way similar to Pokémon Go players collecting Pokémon characters. Minecraft Earth then tasks players with building their own augmented worlds on “build plates,” which can be earned or purchased. Build Plates are a little like pre-built Lego sets, which allow players to engage with the presented world, and then to deconstruct it, and use its elements to build new worlds.
Extra and rare resources can also be earned from “adventures,” which are virtual play-spaces dotted around neighborhoods, in which players work alone or with others to solve puzzles, defeat enemies or extract resources.
The early access version of the game will include “a minimum feature set for a great player experience,” with extra elements due to be added beginning next year. “We want to get the game in players’ hands ASAP,” the statement said, “both so that the community can enjoy it and also so that they can help us shape the game’s growth and functionality, moving forward.”
You can find out more about Minecraft Earth from our hands-on with the game following its announcement in May. We’ll also be reviewing the early access release as soon as it’s available.
Meanwhile, Minecraft’s Nether Update will introduce a new race of creatures called Piglins. They are described as “a hostile mob who really like gold,” and are liable to attack players when they open chests. A new “Honey Block” resource is also being introduced, to complement the recent introduction of bees and beehives. There’s no information yet on the timing of the update, though last year’s Village and Pillage update was announced at Minecon 2018, and released the following spring.