WWDC 2019 was exciting not only because of the reveal of iOS 13 and macOS Catalina, but due to the unexpected reveal of Minecraft Earth. In a similar vein to the hugely popular Pokémon GO, Minecraft Earth is a GPS-based AR game that encourages gamers to leave the house and explore the real world, collecting cool Minecraft items along the way.

It looks like Minecraft Earth will be the next big thing when it launches later this summer, and here’s all you need to know, from release date and beta information to the latest gameplay details.

When will Minecraft Earth be released, and is there a beta?

Minecraft Earth sounds awesome, so when will we be able to play it? Microsoft has teased that it’ll be released in beta form this Summer in as-yet-unknown regions, with a wider US and worldwide launch to follow later in 2019. Then, in July 2019, Microsoft released a new Minecraft Earth trailer (below) with details about the beta.

The Minecraft Earth closed beta will be kicking off "in the next two weeks" according to the trailer, although Android fans will have to wait a little longer as it'll be iOS-only initially. There will be an Android beta, rest assured, but it'll follow sometime after the iOS release. You can apply to take part in the beta on the Minecraft Earth website, but be aware that you might not get selected as interest is unsurprisingly high. 

The company has also confirmed that the game will launch in five cities, with most focused in the US. Of the five cities, only one is outside the US and based on beta processes of similar games, we assume that this will be somewhere in New Zealand. We’ve still got our fingers crossed for a surprise London launch though!

We’ll be sure to update this section once Microsoft announces firm release schedule details, so check back soon.

Which platforms will Minecraft Earth be playable on?

The good news is that Minecraft Earth will be available to play on both iOS and Android, with no timed exclusivity – at the time of writing, anyway. The only requirement is an Android device running Android 7 or later, or an iOS device running iOS 10 or later.

Latest Minecraft Earth trailer

The Minecraft Earth closed beta announcement provides not only details on the beta program, but showcases gameplay too.

The below reveal trailer gives Minecraft fans a glimpse at the variety of activities that’ll be available in the real-world AR extravaganza.

>

What should I expect from Minecraft Earth?

It’s still early days in terms of precise Minecraft Earth gameplay details – we’ve not even seen a full gameplay trailer yet – but Microsoft has outlined a few headline details about what interested mobile gamers will be able to do.

Of course, being a GPS-based AR game, Minecraft Earth will encourage gamers to get up, get out and explore their local areas. According to Microsoft, you’ll come across small clusters of blocks, chests or mobs called Tappables as you wander around, allowing you to collect bricks and other Minecraft staples to eventually create your own voxel-based AR creations.

Speaking of AR creations, you’ll also come across slices of the Minecraft world when you’re exploring. While that’s cool enough, you’ll be able to blow these worlds up, allowing you to play in life-size AR. You’ll be able to go to your local park and see skeletons wandering amongst the pixelated trees, or stepping over diamonds as you explore a mine walking down the street.

As you explore and encounter different creations, you’ll gain experience and level up to progress in your career. What you’ll unlock as you progress is unclear at this time, but progression is always welcome in games like this.

The game is set to include a range of vanilla Minecraft mobs, along with a bunch of new mobs unique to the upcoming mobile game. You’ll be able to gather these mobs on your travels and use them to populate your builds as you begin creating.

What’s cool is that your creations can be showcased to anybody using Minecraft Earth, giving your builds a sense of permanence. These permanent structures will be limited to builds within specific Build Plates, but it sounds like an amazing way to showcase your best builds with people around the world.

Of course, like Pokemon GO and the upcoming Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, there’s a huge focus on the social element of Minecraft Earth. According to Microsoft, the game is “optimised for social multiplayer experiences” and that anybody with the app installed on their smartphone will be able to join your session.

The best part is that it’ll be completely free to download and play, and there won’t be any loot boxes present either. Now, when can we start creating?