Hands-on with Mixed Reality Minecraft clone BlockVerse


Hands-on with Mixed Reality Minecraft clone BlockVerse

Image: Running Pixel

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BlockVerse now offers two mixed reality modes in addition to the VR mode. I will tell you how well this works with the Quest 3 passthrough.

BlockVerse has been available via App Lab since April 2023 for just under 10 euros. The game is currently still in Early Access. BlockVerse is available for Quest 3, Quest Pro, Quest 2 and Quest 1.

I tried out the two VR and two MR game modes on Quest 3. How good is this Mincecraft clone, and is the mixed reality mode fun to play?

Minecraft Lite: How the virtual reality mode works in BlockVerse

In VR World mode, I can chop up blocks made of different materials, pick them up and place them again. But that’s where I’ve already reached the end of the possibilities.

Even players who have never played Minecraft will immediately realize how few of the original’s features are available in BlockVerse. Apart from running around and placing blocks, there is nothing to do. There aren’t even enemies, animals, crafting, a hunger meter or day and night changes. The game is more like Minecraft’s creative mode, where you concentrate on building.

Redstone mechanics, which in Minecraft are like electrical wires and are responsible for logic systems, are not available here. The general building options are also limited. I have 999 blocks of each type, plus a pickaxe, torches, a shovel and two bombs. Without a crafting system, however, my creative options are limited, as I can’t even build doors or windows for a hut. Furthermore, the water physics does not work: water stays in the predefined areas and does not flow further when surrounding blocks are removed.

Here you can see the VR mode of BlockVerse

At first glance, BlockVerse looks exactly like Minecraft. | Image: Running Pixel

Currently, there are also problems with the controls and performance. BlockVerse runs smoothly most of the time, but there are always stutters. This is particularly noticeable when moving upwards. BlockVerse has no jump button. Instead, I hold down the B button to float upwards. I then use the A Button to land on the ground. It’s always jerky when I’m hovering, even when I’m just trying to get over a tiny hill.

The controls are not optimal. I move with the left stick, but the camera is not controlled with the right stick. Instead, I have to hold down the left trigger and then move the left stick left or right.

At the same time, Blockverse does not allow you to adjust the camera perspective precisely. With snap-turning, i.e., gradually changing the direction of view, the perspective jumps randomly, sometimes by 45 degrees, sometimes halfway in the desired direction.

Zombieland: A VR survival mode without danger

With Zombieland, BlockVerse offers an alternative VR mode in which you fend off zombies. Those expecting a more classic Minecraft experience will be disappointed.

Using a pistol, axe, pickaxe, healing potion and bombs, you can explore a map full of zombies. Apart from a few caves and simple buildings, there is little of interest to be found. As there is no loot or other objectives, I concentrate on surviving. However, I have to work very hard to actually die.

The Zombieland VR survival mode in BlockVerse.

The zombies can’t harm you while you’re floating. | Image: Running Pixel

Not only is the radius within which zombies can detect me very limited, but they also move so slowly that I can avoid them by simply running backwards. I don’t have to do that, though, because in this mode I can simply use the B Button to float in the air, where the zombies can never reach me. The same problems with performance and camera orientation apply here.

How to play the mixed reality modes in BlockVerse on the Quest 3

BlockVerse has a first-person mode and a tabletop mode, both of which use mixed reality and run smoothly on the Quest 3. Although these modes are technically more stable, the gameplay is similarly limited.

Living Room Craft — BlockVerse in Mixed Reality

In Living Room Craft mode, you can use Mixed Reality to place blocks in your real environment. This is where Quest 3’s passthrough really comes into its own, as it displays the colors of the environment, unlike Quest 2’s monochrome pass-through.

Here you can see the BlockVerse Mixed Reality mode.

This is what the mixed reality mode on the Quest 3 looks like.

Within the area, which initially depends on the VR play area you set in the quest, I can place blocks and destroy them with the pickaxe. The performance is much more stable and the blocks are realistically placed directly on the ground or on top of each other. I can even use the shovel or bombs to create virtual holes in the ground, which adds another level of immersion.

Unfortunately, the options here are also limited. Apart from stacking simple blocks, there isn’t much else to do. Nevertheless, Living Room Craft mode shows the potential of a mixed reality Minecraft.

YouTuber shows MR-BlockVerse in the real world

Normally, this Living Room Craft can only be used in an area limited to 15 by 15 meters. Youtuber AwakenToast uses the developer mode of Quest 3 to show how BlockVerse works on larger areas.

Very cool: I can just build a virtual block house and then look out through windows or doors into the real world, in which I am actually moving. However, due to the current lack of object occlusion in Quest 3, real objects are not always displayed correctly, such as blocks in front of trees that should be behind them.

Tiny World — The table-top mode in BlockVerse

BlockVerse also has a table-top mode called Tiny World. The miniature playing area is placed in a real room. I can now edit the game world with tools or stack blocks, just like in the other modes.

In Tiny World mode, you can build your own world in your living room.

Here you can see the Tiny World mode of BlockVerse. | Image: Running Pixel

This MR mode also works better technically, and I can walk around my structure. Only the height adjustment of the playing area causes problems and can only be adjusted with buttons, not with the analog stick.

BlockVerse on the Quest 3: Limited XR experience

The current version of BlockVerse did not convince me. If you’re looking for a VR alternative to Minecraft, you’d be better off with the unofficial Minecraft VR port QuestCraft due to the limited gameplay and technical performance. Moreover, take a look at Lego Bricktales.

However, the mixed reality modes are a good example of what an MR building game on Quest 3 could look like. Currently, however, there is only limited fun to be had from simply stacking and destroying blocks. As a Minecraft clone and for 10 Euros, this is clearly not enough for me.

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