Alongside the slew of other Xbox Series X news that Microsoft has revealed today, Minecraft will fully support ray tracing on the next-generation Xbox Series X, bringing enhanced lighting and shadows to the blocky survival sandbox for the first time on a console.
Ray tracing support for Minecraft has been showcased previously by Nvidia to promote its new line of ray tracing capable RTX graphics cards, but the Xbox Series X will also support the technology across a series of games, making it available to a much wider audience. “The Raytraced visuals fundamentally change the way Minecraft feels, drawing the player in and immersing them in a much more realistic world,” according to Xbox Wire Editor-in-Chief Will Tuttle. Minecraft is an excellent, if a bit surprising, showcase candidate for ray tracing, as the simplistic blocky visuals allow the lighting and shadows to truly shine, making it incredibly clear exactly what ray tracing actually does in the game.
Minecraft’s ray tracing functionality will allow light to realistically reflect off of certain surfaces like metal and stone. It will also affect the way light interacts with things like glass and water, giving them a completely different look than in vanilla Minecraft. In the demo Tuttle was shown, “water was now fully transparent and allowed light from the moon to pass through it to the player underneath and realistically reflect off the seaweed swaying in the current.” Ray tracing makes Minecraft sound like a graphical powerhouse, proving that the technology can add unforeseen levels of depth and detail to just about any game. While not exactly ray tracing, the Xbox One X was slated to get a “Super Duper Graphics Pack” for Minecraft, which would have dramatically improved the game’s lighting by adding new shaders similar to popular PC mods for the game. This update was quietly canceled last year, so it’s nice to see Minecraft still being able to take advantage of powerful hardware in some way.
The Xbox Series X is scheduled to launch this holiday, and it will have a number of exciting features that make it a substantial upgrade over the Xbox One.
- This article was updated on:March 16th, 2020