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Minecraft on Gear VR is beautiful and immersive… but…


Oculus announced earlier this year that the block-building, world-creating Minecraft would be making its VR debut on Oculus Rift at some point in the future. However, it turns out the Mojang title is also coming to the smartphone-powered Samsung Gear VR. 

Although we’ve not had a chance to try out Minecraft on Oculus Rift yet, we attended a special event at GDC that let us roam the blocky realms on the Gear VR. 

After settling ourselves into a swivel chair, strapping on the Gear VR, donning a headset and gripping a gamepad, we found ourselves sitting in a Minecraft- inspired sitting room complete with blocky sofa, massive TV screen and hand-built walls. 


You can choose to experience Minecraft on Gear VR in this cinema mode if you prefer. It gives you the living-room feel without the first-person quality that makes it more immersive, but also more intense. 

But, if you want to go full VR, you’ll want to tap the right arrow on the Gear VR’s touchpad to suck you straight into a first-person experience. It’s smooth, seamless and takes you into the centre of Minecraft

We were playing a pre-built section of a Survival game, with two separate areas and a tunnel connecting the two. Taking a moment to look around, we were encouraged to spin around in our chair to change direction and then move around with the left analogue stick. 

And it was lovely for a while, just taking in the pixellated beauty that is Minecraft. But, as soon as we started moving about properly and headed for the tunnel, things began to change. 


We opened the door and a skeleton and a zombie came lumbering towards us. Not only is coming face to face with these beasties far more terrifying a prospect in first-person VR, but it made us immediately reach for that right analogue stick. And that was where the problems started. 

Rather than offering smooth camera controls as you’d expect, moving the right analogue stick jolts your perspective by around a 90-degree spin. That might not sound like much, but when the screen turns so abruptly in VR, it does very strange things to your head – and your stomach. 

We attempted to leave the right analogue stick alone, but it turns out old habits die hard and it wasn’t long before a strong sense of nausea began to swell. 


Now, before you write us off as VR novices, you’re wrong. We’ve used pretty much all the VR headsets, from the big boys like PlayStation VR, HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, to the smaller ones like Google Cardboard in all its various incarnations.  

This wasn’t something we felt while playing any other games on Gear VR either – we’ve reviewed the headset previously and had as much fun as a virtual kid in a virtual candy store with its various Oculus-powered offerings. 

But, playing Minecraft and experiencing this nausea was something we hadn’t had since the Oculus Rift DK1 days – a headset that was around three or so years ago. We remember it well of course: it was the morning before our Christmas party and we’d been given access to Dying Light on the Oculus Rift DK1 while standing up, living through all its free-running, zombie-chasing glory. It all went well, but around 15 minutes in we went very pale and our head swam. The motion sickness was so intense we couldn’t move for a good 20 minutes afterwards.

The issues with movement were so prominent that it made the entire Minecraft for Gear VR experience a painful one from only a few minutes in. We’ve not walked away from a VR demo feeling so disorientated for years – it was a long, staggering walk back to our hotel.  


Hopefully it’s going to be something that Microsoft and Oculus fixes before it’s released at a later date this year, because we can’t see many people sitting in their homes spinning around in a swivel chair. We’d much rather experience VR while sitting on a sofa, especially playing something like Minecraft

It’s a shame because otherwise, becoming part of the Minecraft experience through VR is truly immersive and having such a familiar game exist all around you is a delight. Imagine literally being able to step into your Minecraft creations simply using the power of your Samsung Galaxy S7 and the Gear VR, without having to spend a fortune on a VR-ready PC and the £499 Oculus Rift. 

You’ll feel more powerful than ever grabbing that familiar pixellated sword and preparing to defend your home, but also more vulnerable as you hear the groan of zombies or spy the gleaming eyes of a massive spider. So fingers crossed that this will all be possible without the necessity of a half-hour recuperation session afterwards.

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