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Minecraft's official ray-tracing update launches in beta this week

Glow up

I’ve spent countless hours fiddling with Minecraft’s player-made shaders, trying to illuminate my builds with blinding lights to distract from their overall shonkiness. Mojang’s first step into making that sort of rendering official is coming this Thursday, bringing global illumination, shiny reflections, and more. There are a couple of requirements, however.

As detailed on Nvidia's announcement blog, this is for the Bedrock edition, which is downloaded via the Microsoft store. You'll need to take an additional step and sign up to the beta via the Xbox Insider Program. You’ll also need a GeForce RTX graphics card. I'm cursed with a mere GeForce 1080, but if you have the right setup a shiny Minecraft awaits. Here’s what you can expect.

The new global illumination is working a lot of magic. The light bounces and diffuses, two key elements of path-tracing that make the shadows cast as if in real-life. It also brings with it reflective surfaces, so everything that’s polished will be able to reflect surrounding light.

Also being released are specially commissioned maps to shine a light on the new update. Razzleberry’s "Of Temples and Totems" is a forest where individual leaves cast shadows and god rays lance in at photogenic angles. There are cities, underwater vistas, and fantasy island maps being released, too.

Finally, the update will enable Nvidia DLSS 2.0. It intelligently upscales a game’s resolution to give a better resolution at a higher framerate, which almost seems ideal for Minecraft.

The update will be live sometime on Thursday the 16th. Nvidia will be releasing game ready drivers on the 15th.

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