Minecraft Earth is a brand new Minecraft experience that’s exclusive to mobile. It challenges you to wander around a blocky version of the real world, collecting resources, going on adventures with friends, and, most importantly, building stuff using the power of AR.

We’ve managed to get early access to the upcoming Pokémon GO-like experience, so we thought we’d put together our early thoughts and impressions to give those of you that can’t play it right now a taste of what to expect.

When we first booted up the app, we signed into our Microsoft account, which synced things up nicely. We then got an opportunity to create our own character out of a bunch of different cosmetic options. We could tweak our hair, beard, clothes, and more. Most options were provided for free but there were premium options that we ignored for now.

Then… we were flung into the experience with very little idea of what to do. This is our first, and biggest, criticism of Minecraft Earth so far: there’s a real lack of tutorial and it’s not an entirely obvious experience. We didn’t know what a Buildplate was, or what an adventure entailed. Sure, there’s fun to be had from discovering everything for yourself but a little direction wouldn’t have hurt.

Minecraft Earth is a Well Put Together Game That Does a Good Job of Providing a Micro-Minecraft Experience

Fortunately, given that we’ve played Pokémon GO before, we had some idea of what to do. We tapped on stuff that was highlighted around the neighbourhood and managed to gather a bunch of resources. These were mostly pretty standard Minecraft rocks, dirt, and sticks but we were pleased to get our hands on a few farmyard animals.

The animations are all terrific too. Minecraft Earth runs incredibly smoothly and we were actually encouraged to tap on stuff because it was so satisfying to collect everything.

We wanted to dig into the bulk of the experience and, you know, get to building stuff so we started tapping on stuff to see what happened. Quite quickly, we discovered our Buildplate. This uses the power of AR to allow you to place your own miniature Minecraft world anywhere in your genuine surroundings.

It really does feel like a miniature version of Minecraft. You can tap on stuff to break it down, collecting the resources, and place stuff you’ve crafted into the miniature world. Crafting takes place in a separate interface and functions similarly to how it does in Minecraft. You follow a bunch of recipes to create materials, buildings, furniture, and more. Then, you can place it on your Buildplate.

The best part about your Buildplate is that you can take it anywhere. You can customise it in your house and then take it to a friend’s and show it off. You can even invite a friend to help build it with you. It’s a very collaborative experience that provides a micro taste of Minecraft.

Our Only Real Complaint is That it Doesn’t do a Great Job of Walking You Through the Basics

Each day you get a series of challenges you can complete for extra rewards. They’re all relatively simple to beat, and generally involve doing what you’d already be doing anyway. It also encourages you to do stuff that you might not have otherwise done, like complete an Adventure or two.

These also use AR to provide you with micro-Minecraft adventures. They can provide you with the rarest resources in the game, so it’s definitely worth doing these as often as you can. You can bring a friend along for the ride too, and battle monsters and break down resources together. The best part is that whatever you or a friend collect is shared with everyone.

Our early impressions of Minecraft Earth are pretty positive. It’s a well put together game that does a good job of providing a micro-version of the genuine experience. It’s good looking, runs smoothly, and provides a wide variety of activities you can perform.

At this point, our only real complaint is the lack of guidance during the early hours. It could benefit from a brief tutorial that walks you quickly through the basics so you can hit the ground running.