The Minecraft Super Duper Graphics Pack may be dead but in its wake Nvidia stepped up to announce a fancy new raytracing version. Minecraft RTX may not be quite the upgrade originally promised but its reveal last fall still gave hope that the blocky 2009 game could have its vanilla, non-modded mode receive a little more visual flair. When announced there was no release date even hinted at, but that’s finally changed as of today with the reveal of Thursday’s beta.
The Minecraft RTX beta is specifically for the Windows 10 edition, and won’t update automatically unless you ask for it through the Xbox Insider Hub starting on April 16. The raytracing update adds direct lighting, hard and soft shadows, emissive lighting from glowing blocks, reflection and refraction, volumetric fog and light shafts, and other visual tricks to illuminate the world. In addition to the lighting, the update will also come with six free hand-crafted worlds available on the marketplace, designed by a group of Minecraft creators to show off the possibilities of the new effects. The lighting in a crystal palace or aquatic wonderland will be very different from the neon city or lost temple, so these should be both fun to explore and make “OOO…!” sounds at as well as spur the imagination a bit.
At the moment it’s hard to know just how beta the beta will be, but it does come with Nvidia’s DLSS 2.0, which is an AI routine Nvidia uses to boost framerates while keeping the quality high. Raytracing is very pretty but a notorious resource-hog, tanking framerates even on something as old as Quake 2, but it’s still also early days on the tech with a lot of headroom for advancement. One of the next big steps begins on April 16, for those with the hardware to see everything Minecraft RTX has to offer.