Minecraft is getting ray tracing support and it looks completely different

At the moment, NVIDIA is all about ray tracing, and while we expect many new and upcoming AAA games to support the feature, soon a game you wouldn't necessarily expect will be getting it too. NVIDIA has announced that Minecraft, the best-selling game in the world, is getting support for real-time ray tracing, making it one of the most unique titles to take advantage of NVIDIA's RTX cards.

It might be a little strange to hear that Minecraft is being updated to support ray tracing. After all, part of its charm is its graphics that looked dated when the game first launched way back in 2009. With that said, lighting is still a fairly big deal in vanilla Minecraft, so ray tracing won't be entirely out of place even considering the game's general aesthetic.

In today's announcement, NVIDIA said that the type of ray tracing coming to Minecraft is called path tracing, which "simulates the way light is transported throughout a scene." A bunch of different forms of lighting and shadows are calculated using path tracing, including direct lighting from sources like the sun, lava, and glowstone. That lighting will create "realistic hard and soft shadows," based on a number of factors, including the size and distance of the light source.

Looking at the trailer above, the differences between Minecraft with RTX and without it are pretty dramatic. With RTX turned on, Minecraft almost looks like it's been modded with third-party texture packs, but assuming you've got an RTX card installed in your rig, you'll be able to achieve that look in the unmodded game.

Support for ray tracing will obviously only be available in the Windows 10 version of Minecraft, and for the moment, the feature doesn't have a solid release date. In a blog post to its website, Mojang says it'll have more to share "later this year" and that it plans to launch these RTX features in beta at some point in 2020.