It turns out that Minecraft is getting a visual update after all, just not the one that was originally promised. Overnight, graphics card makers Nvidia announced a new update for the game that will add Minecraft to the growing list of PC games that support real-time ray tracing.
“Ray tracing is one of the key innovations that we think is next for Minecraft,” said Saxs Persson, the game’s creative director, in a video announcing Nvidia’s update. “In normal Minecraft a block of gold just appears yellow but with ray tracing turned on you really get to see the specular highlight, you get to see the reflection, you can even see a mob reflected in it.”
In a brief trailer, you can see how much more vibrant and organic Minecraft’s world feels. Lava glows against nearby blocks, streams of water shimmer and show reflections of what’s nearby, and sunlight filters through a series of vines to create a soft, warm glow on the ground. Of course, players will need Nvidia RTX graphics card if they want to see any of this in their own version of the game.
While Nvidia has also announced that ray tracing support is coming to a bunch of upcoming games including Control and Watch Dogs: Legion, Minecraft is interesting because the game was originally due for a much broader graphical update called the Super Duper Graphics Pack. Announced at E3 2017, the pack was supposed to add much more detailed and realistic lighting effects to the game, as well as other enhancements, including support for 4K.
It was also supposed to be coming to more than just PC, but earlier this month Mojang announced that the Super Duper Graphics Pack had been canceled as it “proved too technically demanding to implement as planned.” The ray tracing update is due out soon.