Just last month, a Minecraft mod surfaced online that included ray-tracing in the game. Now, Microsoft announced at Gamescom today that it is officially adding real-time ray-tracing support to Minecraft, which will come as a free update to all PC users.
It is worth noting that the upcoming feature will only be supported if the player's PC has any of Nvidia's 2060, 2070, or 2080 graphics cards or the Super and Ti variants of those. To those unfamiliar with the technology, ray tracing adds realism to a visual landscape by rendering in detail the way light operates and interacts with various objects. The improved graphics are achieved by the rendering of realistic shadows and reflections.
The inclusion of ray tracing in Minecraft would also bring several visual improvements that include direct lighting from the sun, and improved light interaction with reflective objects such as glass and water. At the moment, Microsoft and Nvidia did not reveal when the ray-tracing update will become available in the game.
Ray tracing sits at the center of what we think is next for Minecraft. GeForce RTX gives the Minecraft world a brand-new feel to it. In normal Minecraft, a block of gold just appears yellow, but with ray tracing turned on, you get to see the specular highlight, you get the reflection, you can even see a mob reflected in it.
Discover more about our new Bedrock engine, Render Dragon, and our new partnership with NVIDIA, that's bringing real-time ray tracing to Minecraft on devices capable of DirectX R! That sentence was too long? Hey, this is big news! It's justified!— Minecraft (@Minecraft) August 19, 2019
↣ https://t.co/AvFCu1Tsrs ↢ pic.twitter.com/R21y9HQxu4
The announcement of the ray-tracing feature was revealed a few days after Mojang confirmed the cancelation of the Super Duper Graphics Pack. The canceled pack was supposed to introduce graphical updates to the game, some of which are similar to what ray-tracing offers. However, in a statement released by Mojang, the developer explained that the pack "proved too technically demanding to implement," especially across multiple platforms.
Although it has been a decade since Minecraft was first introduced in the gaming community, the game still enjoys a steady number of players. Just last May, Mojang celebrated its 10th anniversary and revealed that the sandbox title has sold at least 176 million copies worldwide. Of course, given the upcoming visual upgrade through ray-tracing, it is likely that Minecraft will be able to sell even more copies. The added realism will definitely attract players who were once hesitant to play the game due to its cartoony visuals.
Minecraft is available now on all major platforms.