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Minecraft Earth's AR demo put a huge tower onstage

Following its announcement last month, Minecraft Earth has been shown off at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference. Mojang's upcoming augmented reality spin-off will let players play Minecraft in the real world, from building little dioramas on their desk to actually exploring their full-sized creations. 

In its first public demo, Mojang summoned a tower onto a table, which could then be built on. At this scale, you can also put your avatar into your diorama, and it can even mimic some basic movements through motion capture. 

At the larger scale, you can wander around, fight skeletons, break blocks and get murdered by overzealous creepers. The transformation was pretty dramatic, too. The stage became a massive, black pit, out of which the huge version of the tower appeared from, hurtling upwards. It gives me vertigo just watching the video (cheers, VentureBeat). 

Like other versions of Minecraft, you'll be able to collaborate on big projects and see your friends' architectural masterpieces. As well as building, you'll be able to collect new blocks and critters scattered around the world, which you'll then be able to use in your own projects.

I'm surprised how much it lives up to the announcement trailer, but the demo also has the benefit of a massive, empty stage in a dark room. That's not something you're going to be able to emulate very often, and I'm predicting a great many bruised shins. 

Back in 2015, Microsoft debuted Minecraft on the HoloLens, but it's still not available for consumers. Minecraft Earth, on the other hand, will work on Android and iOS phones.

Minecraft Earth will be free to play, with a closed beta starting this summer. You can sign up for it here. There's no word on other platforms yet.

Fraser is the sole inhabitant of PC Gamer's mythical Scottish office, conveniently located in his flat. He spends most of his time wrangling the news, but sometimes he sneaks off to write lots of words about strategy games.