Microsoft showcased the first full gameplay demo of it's upcoming Minecraft Earth AR game at Apple's WWDC 2019. Since its announcement just a few days ago, the game has seen numerous comparison to Pokemon Go, but the live play reveals just how different it is.
Though the titles occupy the same space in the niche AR gaming market, the collaboration in Minecraft Earth is much more present. The game focuses less on collection and more on the community aspects.
In the demo, two players worked collaboratively in a world on a table, similarly to Microsoft's E3 2015 HoloLens demo. They then moved to the stage, experiencing the world to scale. Animals in the game also flocked to the player's position.
Apple's ARKit Bet Is Finally Paying Off
Microsoft talked a little about the tech its using to power such an experience. It's tapping into newly announced improvements in Apple's RealityKit and ARKit 3 for some impressive functionality.
Person occlusion was mentioned specifically as an iOS-only feature, and essentially cuts real people into the digital world when they're standing in front of a build. Their movement is tracked around the world, albeit with some artifacts.
Motion capture is also coming to the game, meaning you'll be able to wave your avatar's arms when playing on a smaller scale. At this point, it's unclear if this feature is exclusive to iOS, or will be coming to Android devices.
Speaking of releases, Minecraft Earth will be available to test very soon. Microsoft is aiming for a summer beta release, likely in the US first, followed by a wider rollout.