Jimmy, author of this review, has been a dedicated Minecraft fan for several years now, and also a fan of various geolocation/AR games for several years as well.
Yes, the game is still only available in New Zealand and Iceland, but we couldn’t wait any longer. Creating a New Zealand iTunes account, we were able to download Minecraft Earth (MCE) and try it out. Here’s our honest take. If you are looking for an idea of what is available in the game, check out our previous articles on the game right here.
How does Minecraft Earth fit into the Minecraft world?
While the Developers have been pointing out for a while now that MCE will eventually have all the same features as the original game, MCE is not there yet. Some elements, such as Iron, Diamond, Gold, etc., are still missing and have not yet been announced to be released. Neither the Nether or the End are available at the time being. Fishing is not available. And so on.
The Crafting Table and Furnace do not work as you would expect. They work via a timer, and you are limited to up to three crafting and three smelting slots rather than how they usually work. In other words, your progression is limited in the amount of items that you can craft or smelt.
Furthermore, it becomes obvious very quickly that the focus in MCE is primarily on Augmented Reality, and sadly, it feels that there are more pros than cons to this. The first few times we used the AR feature were incredibly exciting! We were literally building in the real world! How cool is this?! Pretty cool, but it can very quickly grow exhausting to have to walk around, zoom in and out, etc. to make what end up being a very very simply build (compared to what we are used to in the original game in terms of quality and time consumption).
We cannot help but feel that AR is a fun addition to a game, but doesn’t work as the main feature… One cannot simply turn on building mode in Augmented Reality anywhere at anytime, it’s not realistic and therefore affects when and where you can actually enjoy the game.
Multiplayer is a very fun and important aspect of the full Minecraft experience. However, this experience just feels different in MCE.
In multiplayer, players can join forces on a build or Adventures (although exclusively available in Seattle for the time being). Trust us, make sure you have a ton of physical room if you start building with your friends.
Part of the fun in multiplayer in Minecraft is seeing your friends’ characters in the game, seeing them crouch while they look at you, making pranks to or with them, etc.; and sadly, none of this is available at the time being (except for crouching, you will literally see your friends bent over the entire time you are playing with them).
How does Minecraft Earth fit as a Geolocation game?
Ultimately, the game doesn’t really have the geolocation feel you can get from playing Pokémon GO, Ingress, Jurassic World Alive, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, The Walking Dead: Our World, etc.
First, yes, you can build as high and as much as you desire on your build plate, but these are limited in size and therefore you are limited in the amount of blocks that you will ultimately use on them (not bringing up the fact that you are literally limited in the range of blocks available at the time being). There is only so much you can do on your build plate with the amount of blocks available right now, but also with the size of the build plates available.
In other words, one can get a decent amount of blocks to enjoy building on their build plates from scouting Tappables from their home a couple days. There really isn’t any incentive to exploring, or at least we didn’t feel it.
Parting Words – Hit or miss?
It’s hard to tell at the time being. Clearly, the game is in very very early stages, but if you have been playing Minecraft for a long time, it’s something you are used to; i.e. that the game offers very little to begin with, but evolves greatly over time. That being said, for a mobile game, people tend to expect more upon release, so we also expected more.
For the time being, the game just feels like it’s lacking in many aspects when comparing it to other geolocation games or to Minecraft itself.
It lacks in incentive to explore, it lacks in the multiplayer experience or in the Minecraft overall experience, and it also lacks in easily accessible gameplay experiences as you always have to go through Augmented Reality, which cannot be done everywhere at anytime as easily as advertised…
All that being said, knowing how Minecraft can improve and how it takes community’s feedback into account, we are strongly confident that the game will progress in a way to make it enjoyable to all.
What do you think? Did you try out the game yet? Are you looking forward to trying it out?