Minecraft Community Celebration brings freebies, Windows ray tracing

2020 has been hard for everyone, even those who thrive in virtual worlds. Gaming events have been postponed then canceled and communities have had to quickly find new ways to get together even when far apart. Games have become an important part of survival this year and platforms like Minecraft have even become a much-needed respite and escape while fostering the same creativity and fun that the game has always been famous for. To celebrate the end of what is pretty much a cursed year, Minecraft is giving out a few treats to both Bedrock and Java edition players as well as those with powerful ray tracing rigs on Windows.

Minecraft's ray tracing support has actually been promised way back last year and was promised to land in 2020. We're still three weeks away from the end of 2020 and, just in time, Mojang is finally rolling out that feature to players on Windows 10. Of course, you will need a PC that is capable of supporting that number-crunching, graphics-intensive capability, and an NVIDIA RTX 2060 is named as the bare minimum requirement.

If you do meet those specs, you will be able to see an almost extremely different world thanks to advanced lighting, water reflections, and accurate shadows. You can even create new ray tracing worlds of your own using PBR or physics-based rendered texture packs. Even better, the game remains the same for both ray tracing and "regular" players. They will just see the worlds differently.

Minecraft also has treats for those without these hi-tech and expensive graphics cards. To mark its 2020 Community Celebration, the developers are giving away free items to both Bedrock and Java players. Bedrock players will get to see new items and maps over the next few weeks while Java edition players will get gifts every Monday.

Despite the proliferation of voxel-based games and rivals like Roblox, Minecraft remains a strong brand in the gaming market. Under Microsoft's ownership, it even grew beyond its gaming roots into an educational tool that has become even more relevant during this year's pandemic.