Minecraft getting NVIDIA RTX real-time ray tracing in future update

What you need to know

  • Microsoft is bringing support for NVIDIA's ray tracing tech to Minecraft.
  • The addition of real-time ray tracing will bring realistic lighting and shadows, giving a game known for its simple blocky look a bit of added realism.
  • The feature will come in a future free update with support for NVIDIA's RTX graphics cards.

Minecraft is about to get a whole lot prettier, courtesy of real-time ray tracing. While the long-awaited "Super Duper Graphics Pack" may have been canceled recently because of performance issues, the team behind the game is giving it some graphical love with support for NVIDIA's ray tracing tech with RTX graphics cards.

With the addition of real-time ray tracing, the lighting across the game will get a significant boost, replicating how light and shadows would look in the real world across the game. Here's a glimpse at what to expect, from the Minecraft post announcing the changes:

With the capabilities of this tech, you'll be able to experience your Minecraft worlds with realistic lighting, vibrant colors, , realistic water that reflects and refracts naturally, and emissive textures that light up. What does 'emissive' mean? It means you're about to see Minecraft like you've never seen it before!

While that might sound a little odd for a game all about its simplistic, blocky look, the results look pretty phenomenal.

Ray tracing will first be tested as an optional graphics upgrade in a future beta version of the game. From the announcement, however, it seems the feature may still be a ways off. "You can expect that feature in the new year," the Minecraft team says.

As for other platforms, the team has some graphical upgrades it's planning there as well. Minecraft Bedrock platforms will see some improvements in lighting and new graphical improvements through a new game engine dubbed "Render Dragon."

Render Dragon supports a range of graphics features, depending on what your device is capable of. Not all devices will support ray tracing, but we will have some graphics enhancements on most devices. Again, it's all about taking advantage of different hardware to offer the smoothest Minecraft experience possible, no matter what device you're playing on!

Expect to see these roll out across different Bedrock platforms "in the months ahead."

If you're interested in checking out Minecraft, you can play it as part of Xbox Game Pass. The monthly subscription service gives you immediate access to more than 200 games for $10 per month. Xbox Game Pass for Xbox One, Xbox Game Pass for PC, and Xbox Live Gold can also be bundled for $15 a month with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. And if you need to invest in a new RTX GPU to take advantage, have a look at our roundup of the best graphics cards on the market today.

Awesome Minecraft merch

Love Minecraft? We're fairly certain you'll love these accessories equally.

Minecraft Sprites Premium T-Shirt (opens in new tab) ($19 at Amazon)

Show off your Minecraft pride with this premium tee from Jinx, showcasing many of Minecraft's iconic mobs.

Minecraft Lego: The End Battle (opens in new tab) ($20 at Amazon)

Who doesn't want a Lego Ender Dragon?

Minecraft for Nintendo Switch (opens in new tab) ($30 at Amazon)

Minecraft for Nintendo Switch features full cross-play between Xbox, Windows 10, mobile phones, and even VR!

Minecraft shades (opens in new tab) ($8 at Amazon)

You might think you're cool, but are you cool enough to wear these?

Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

15 Comments
  • I guess it's easier to develop something like this for a 500€ GPU than for the majority of Minecraft players.
    For me that's a disappointing decision
  • Definitely. Sounds like money was passed to their hands.
  • It's not possible to develop Ray tracing for all platforms at playable frame rates...
  • Super duper graphics pack would have added shaders without Ray tracing that's what I actually mean. Not just for a small group of people who have these cards. Look at all the shaders out here looking great without Ray tracing. Why wouldn't that be possible
  • I guess, with RTX, you feed data to GPU and ask GPU to do all the work?
    ↑ not sure, I'm not a rendering engine programmer. But I've dealt with shaders before, it might fail for some cards and drivers. One misstep, leads to super bad performance or just won't show anything (it's not a bug so it's hard to debug).
    It's ok if you are only doing it for consoles, but for PC?
  • This is awesome news! This explains why they cancelled the 4k update that was announced a year ago. Next gen is going to be amazing.
  • Oh, so they CAN upgrade the graphics for just one platform. So maybe release the super duper graphic mode for the platforms that can support it.
  • See the part about Render Dragon. They are improving the graphics for older platforms. It looks like the new engine tech is what will enable different platforms to have different graphics tech.
  • Surprised that Microsoft isn't (or simply hasn't yet announced) working with AMD to bring Raytracing to the Xbox. Makes sense because the Xbox One CPU and GPU are AMD chips.
  • AMD's high end GPUs don't have Ray Tracing yet, let alone their low end GPUs for consoles. They will need to start there first.
  • This is pretty sucky. Sounds just like marketing to make people buy RTX cards. Also, it's still beside the point to spice up MC graphically, but, if they're gonna do it, do it for older cards too.
  • They are improving it for all platforms as well, did you not see the part about that in the article?
  • This makesw very happy. Guess I will be upgrading my gpu next year and probably getting the new Xbox as well...
  • I dont know if there is ray tracing on xbox. also I dont know if minecraft is on pc games pass. so to say get it on games pass thats for xbox wont give you pc win10 bedrock. I think thats misleading. as for the gfx update. its unimpressive that ms is alienating amd users now by not supporting what was previously visioned and only giving ray traceing to nvidia users. I wont go buy a nvidia card for this. no thanks. im happy with the performance and price point that im getting with amd.
  • Only Nvidia supports ray tracing, AMD does not. Microsoft doesn't have a choice.