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.

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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.

Getting blocky

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

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Xbox Game Pass gives you access to over a hundred games for one monthly fee. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate also adds Xbox Live Gold to the package so you can play online with your friends. Right now, you can purchase a three-month subscription for $45 through Amazon.

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Secure your Xbox One S: All-Digital Edition today, Microsoft's new and ambitious disc-less console. It's the cheapest Xbox One ever made, bundled with three downloadable games like Forza Horizon 3. If you don't like physical media, then this is a great option.

Awesome Minecraft merch

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

Minecraft Sprites Premium T-Shirt ($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 ($20 at Amazon)

Who doesn't want a Lego Ender Dragon?

Minecraft for Nintendo Switch ($30 at Amazon)

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

Minecraft shades ($8 at Amazon)

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

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