The popularity of Minecraft is unlike that of any other game. The world-building video game is an obsession with several children (and adults) I know, and last I heard it had sold over 70 million copies. Educators have jumped on the popularity of Minecraft, using it to teach kids about coding and 3D design; I even have a friend who recently spent a week as a counselor at a Minecraft camp. The Minecraft craze doesn’t seem to be dying down anytime soon – with kids or adults – and a new version of the game is likely to spark new interest, as well as rekindling excitement in seasoned players.
Over the past year, Minecraft’s developers have been working on bringing fans directly into the game through virtual reality. In April, a VR version of the game was released for Samsung Gear VR, and now, after months of hard work, Minecraft VR is available for Oculus Rift. Better yet, it’s being released as a free update to Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition Beta.
“We’d like to welcome you to the game all over again, because it’s a fantastic new experience in VR, even if you’re a Minecraft veteran,” the game’s developers state. “For new and experienced players, we hope the VR experience in Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition Beta will illuminate just how powerful, evocative, and utterly immersive VR can really be.”
Minecraft players can now step inside their created worlds with even more new features than the Gear VR version of the game. Innate support is available for keyboard and mouse, and new Xbox control options compensate for any discomfort caused by the VR experience: for example, the “stutter turn” feature allows users to turn at 22 1/2 degrees, with the same amount of control, minimizing any dizziness or discomfort caused by a quick spin in virtual reality.
Then there’s the virtual reality living room, which I think is especially cool: it’s like meta-virtual reality. If you need a break from being fully immersed in your Minecraft world, you can press a button that will zoom out and place you in a “Minecraft living room,” a virtual space that will allow you to sit on a virtual couch and continue to play the game on a virtual screen in front of your virtual self.
Minecraft for Oculus Rift also supports MSAA in VR for better visuals, and new render distance settings have been added. Many of the virtual reality settings – particularly those that affect comfort or rendering performance – have been recorded separately, so users can customize their experiences.
“We know…it’ll not take a day before people start building things that are going to amaze us. And I think that’s the fun thing about Minecraft,” says Saxs Persson of Minecraft. “Our job, in many ways, is to provide an inspirational platform, a place that people can go and have fun and make it their own, and try not to limit what people can do, and then just step back and watch the community take it for a ride.”
The free Oculus Rift VR update to Windows 10 can be downloaded here. To learn more about Virtual Reality Minecraft, you can check out the game’s VR page here, or watch the video below, and then discuss further over in the Minecraft Virtual Reality forum at 3DPB.com.