Augmented reality (AR) technology has come a long way since Pokémon Go launched in 2016. And now, one of the biggest games of the last decade is joining the ranks. Microsoft has announced Minecraft Earth, a free-to-play version of one of the most popular games ever made. Microsoft has developed and rebuilt this version around augmented reality for the iPhone and Android. Similar to Pokémon Go, which popularized AR gaming in a massive way, the game uses your smartphone as a window into a virtual world. But unlike pokémon Go, Minecraft Earth is completely committed to the notion of augmented reality. You’re not just running into a random Charmander on the streets. Now you’re building elaborate Minecraft creations that everyone else can see.

Just like Pokémon Go, you’ll need to move around in the real world to collect things. Instead of pokéstops, Minecraft Earth will have “tapables” that are randomly placed in the world around you. There are always two nearby, and you can walk to get more. These are designed to give you small rewards that allow you to build things. This will allow you to get resources and items to build vast structures in the building mode. Therefore, you’ll want to collect as many of these as possible.

MIinecraft Earth

Minecraft Earth comes to Microsoft

“If you like building Redstone machines, or you’re used to how the water flows, or how sand falls down, it all works,” says Olafsson. All of the mobs of animals and creatures in Minecraft will be available, too. “We have tried to stay very true to the kind of core design pillars of Minecraft, and we’ve worked with the design team in Stockholm to make sure that the spirit of the game is carried through.”

Minecraft Earth will begin rolling out in beta on iOS and Android in the summer of 2019. The aim is to roll out more broadly to the U.S. and beyond later in 2019. Microsoft is allowing users to sign up for the beta on the Minecraft Earth website, and just for doing so, you’ll get a free skin for the Minecraft Earth Bedrock Edition.

To join, you will need a free Xbox Live account, and you will also need Android 7 or higher, or iOS 10 or higher on your phone in order to be eligible.

Scene from official trailer