Oculus shows off first-look of Minecraft for Gear VR and it’s mehhh

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Minecraft in all its blocky glory is setting up shop on mobile virtual reality on the Samsung Gear VR.

I had a chance to demo the game at an Oculus media event during GDC in SF this week and there was a decent amount of hype surrounding the wildly popular game making its mobile VR debut. Microsoft is already set to launch a version of the game for the Rift sometime this spring.

My VR Minecraft experience left a bit to be desired.

Gameplay takes place in full VR and cinema modes and requires an external bluetooth gamepad, which does give the mobile headset a substantially beefy gaming feel. I will say that Gear VR is probably not a good platform on which to start playing Minecraft if you’re not used to the way the game operates.

When it comes to porting existing game experiences to virtual reality, one of the toughest things to do is nail camera angles, and this title was largely hit or miss in that regard. The camera moves in jumpy ticks, so there are no smooth transitions, despite having a gamepad that should easily let you move the camera the way you desire.

The most bothersome feature of the game is the lazy way they chose to add inventory and health menus to float in space in front of you. It doesn’t work that well and, unless you have the headset positioned perfectly on your face, it’s pretty impossible to read any of the info as it’s far too small.

Full VR mode is oddly a bit disorienting despite the fact that it’s such an iconically basic blocky game, but there was something odd-feeling about it. Cinema mode is the most comfortable to play through, but, as with other games, there’s the nagging feeling that playing in 2D is a waste of the platform.

It was fun to experience such a major title on Gear VR, and its launch speaks to the clout Gear VR is earning as an actual piece of gaming hardware. But porting the same experience of console VR to mobile VR is a pretty dangerous move here. Hopefully the teams at Microsoft can make some updates before there is a full release on the Oculus store.