After previous attempts to give Minecraft a graphical facelift failed in super duper disappointing fashion, the best-selling game in the world is jumping right into the future of video game graphics on Thursday 16th April with the Minecraft RTX Beta. It looks incredible.
This makes major changes to Minecraft’s otherwise simple graphics engine with its distinctive blocky aesthetic. The main feature is the new illumination model that uses path tracing to calculate how light from the Sun and other light sources bounce and reflect off surfaces and through windows, creating realistic shadows, they’re also combining this with a new physically-based rendering pipeline and texture packs, so that materials act realistically with this new form of light. Water, ice and stained glass have varying transparency and can diffuse the light coming through them, metal can be shiny and reflective, and there’s new volumetric fog effects to add more atmospheric effects to the world.
Thankfully, you’ll be able to port in your previously created worlds – details on how can be found on Nvidia’s announcement blog post – but there’s also going to be six free Creative, Adventure and Survival worlds available to play for free to showcase the various new lighting and world effects.
All of this is computationally very expensive, and so Nvidia recommend running the game with DLSS upscaling, to help improve game performance, whether on an RTX 2060 or RTX 2080Ti.
Developed in partnership with Nvidia, Minecraft RTX Beta will be exclusively available on Windows 10. That’s not some major coup, but a simple fact that Nvidia are currently still the only graphics card manufacturer with consumer cards featuring dedicated ray tracing hardware, and Windows 10 the only consumer system with ray tracing support built in. All of that will change later this year with the release of AMD’s RDNA 2 graphics cards for PC, and with the launch of PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, both of which feature versions of AMD’s raytracing technology.
In order to gain access to the beta, you’ll need to install the RTX Game Ready Driver that Nvidia will make available on 15th April, and then head to GeForce.com on the 16th for step-by-step instructions. Obviously you’ll need an RTX graphics card from Nvidia as well.