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Minecraft’s free Planet Earth 3 expansion is the wholesome sort of DLC we deserve

Microsoft is partnering with the BBC once again to release a free experience that turns Minecraft into an education on the wonders of the planet - and it's brilliant.

Xbox, Mojang and the BBC are partnering once again, helping to bring a version of some of the BBC’s educational nature content to the world of Minecraft.

Owners of Minecraft’s Bedrock or Education editions can download a free expansion pack that’s built around the BBC’s truly incredible Planet Earth 3 documentary series, adding all manner of real-world marvels of nature to Minecraft.

While the expansion sadly doesn’t feature any narration from Sir David Attenborough, it does feature much of the other things that can be seen in Planet Earth 3, which can be watched in the UK now on BBC iPlayer, and in the US is available on AMC+ and will soon air again on BBC America.

The new Minecraft World is meant to be both fun and educational, and lets players engage in Minecraft’s imitable survival gameplay while also letting them come face-to-face with the likes of great white sharks, arctic wolves, leopards, seals, and more.

The Field Station acts as a hub, from which you can go out and explore representations of different bits of Earth.

This actually isn’t the first crossover of this kind - the BBC previously partnered with Minecraft for a similar release based on the Frozen Planet 2 documentary. That ended up one of the most-downloaded lessons within the Minecraft Education Edition library - and now this new experience will launch into both the traditional and education versions of Minecraft.

The Planet Earth 3 world first drops you into a ‘Field Station’, from which you can select what biome of nature you want to explore, and what activities you want to undertake. There’s a laundry list of challenges to complete, and you can even play as the animals - with that switch in perspective meant to help players to understand the delicate ecosystem that the planet so relies on.

Minecraft has a handful of creatures by nature, of course - but a wide range of real-life animals have been lovingly recreated in Minecraft's blocky visuals - which itself is rather charming. But the update surprises with how effective it is as an educational tool - and it might not just be for kids. There's likely plenty adults could learn from exploring its version of the world, too - matching up nicely to the all-the-family feel of Attenborough's world-renowned BBC documentaries.

Out in the world, you'll encounter all manner of real-life creatures - and even get a chance to play as them.

The purpose, Mojang says, is to use Minecraft to help build understanding of the world - and ultimately, help to inspire people to build a better and more sustainable world. That’s probably why the update is available for free, in 29 languages, and on all platforms where Minecraft Bedrock or Education editions are available.

The update is out now - and it’s well worth checking out.

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