Minecraft Earth: An Early Access Review
Officially released in 2011 “Minecraft” took the idea of an open world adventure and pushed it to new limits. With over 200 million copies sold over different platforms, it is regarded as the best-selling video game of all time. Almost a decade later the companies behind Minecraft decided to make a move towards the mobile gaming market with “Minecraft Earth.”
Though not officially launched some have gotten early access to help test the current game mechanics, and experience what these companies hope to accomplish.
Nerdbot was given early access to this new AR experience.
Developed by Mojang Studios for the mobile platform, Minecraft Earth seeks to capture the embodiment that made it successful. When players first download the game, they will be asked to create an avatar. Options are limited but players will have the option to purchase more add-ons with the in-game currency. Gamers will also have the option to use special, themed avatar skins for events. A brief tutorial follows to explain the new games features.
Within the view of the main screen your avatar will be surrounded by animals and “tapables”. Tapables are the new mechanic to mine for materials. Players tap on one of these icons and get materials based on that icon’s theme (Stone for Stone, Trees for types of wood, Hills for dirt and flowers, Ect.). Players can also collect materials by tapping on “adventure beacons”. These small beacons utilize the AR function of the game and place “life size” terrain in an open space. All users will have unlimited inventory to collect materials, though that may change upon the games official release.
Adventures in Minecraft earth are quite unique. “Adventure Beacons” are placed in public places with lots of foot traffic. Like raids, more than one player can join in on the adventure. When someone taps on the adventure beacon, they are thrust into a pre-created area filled with mineable materials, animals and monsters; The end of the adventure is when someone finds and taps the hidden treasure chest filled with a themed gem/diamond. All mining materials are shared, so at the end of the adventure if a player feels as though they did not collect enough materials; whatever the other players mined is copied into that player’s inventory.
Building is a bit different than what is shown in the advertisement; In Minecraft Earth’s official trailer we are shown that anything can be built around our existing world, however that’s not exactly the case. Building is done with “Build Plates”, these plates come in a variety of sizes for one to craft whatever they would like. When one of these plates is selected the AR function enters an “editor mode”, where everything is a small scale for an easier build. Once complete a player can place the creation on a flat surface, preferably a large area such as a field at a park and can view their creation. A player can then invite friends via the games QR code system to view, and even sabotage their creations; no one else can view a creation without getting permission from the original creator. If a player has access to another player’s creation and wishes to mine it for materials, those materials now belong to that player and disappear from the original creation forever.
The final great feature to explore is the games crafting. Here players will have the options to craft items and create new materials by using the Crafting or Smelting table. Every possible item build is preset on each of these tables, a guide will not be needed. Players will only be allowed to select an option to build if they have all the necessary materials. At the first level, a player is only allowed to build one item for each table, up to three slots per table will unlock when a higher level is achieved. This is where the micro-transaction point comes into the free to play game. Each item has a specific wait time to craft once started, that can range anywhere between a few seconds to a few minutes. Players can speed up this process by spending in-game currency.
Minecraft Earth seeks to bring a new AR experience to its already popular world. Limited crafting might frustrate long-time fans; this was a feature added, not to make a person spend money, but to give that person time to appreciate the areas they have gone to explore. The biggest complaint we have towards this game is going to be the lack of full immersion. Small raid-able events were very carefully crafted to bring fun, but unfortunately limit interactivity. These mini games have both structure and depth, but the biggest drawback is that players cannot fully explore that depth. One Adventure we took part of was like a mini dungeon crawler. The area had three levels going downward, it was dark and full of spiders, skeletons and Torches filled the area with light. Everyone could only interact from the top view. We couldn’t walk on the bridge leading to the treasure, nor could we jump down to the other platforms. The same is seen with the personal builds or exploring a friend’s creation. Things went from a very audible “oohh”, to “oh well that’s a shame”.
Though we hope that future updates bring the ability to completely explore and immerse ourselves in the designs of this world. We feel like Mojang Studios has stayed faithful to the fundamental values of this franchise- Mine, Craft, Explore and have an Adventure.
This article was submitted by Javier Casillas, Check out his blog by clicking the link here.