OF ALL THE GAMES to get high-end lighting rendering support, we wouldn't have flagged Mojang/Microsoft's Minecraft for Nvidia ray-tracing support, but it's got it.
Given Minecraft's whole aesthetic is a kinda low-end blocky look injected with a bucket load of Scandinavian charm and eye for design - think if IKEA made a game with the help of an effortlessly cool Swedish fashion designer - ray-tracing seems a bit like overkill.
For the uninitiated, ray-tracing involves effectively tracing the path of light from a source all around a scene, including how it bounces off surfaces, rather than compiling and mapping lighting effects and adding depth and dynamics to them through shading. Ray-tracing leads to more realistic lighting, especially when global illumination is achieved, while other lighting rendering techniques are less demanding.
But Nvidia's 20-series Turing-based GeForce cards have dedicated hardware chops for ray-tracing, so it's become more achievable for the latest gaming PCs and laptops; thing is, it hasn't been implemented in loads of games.
As such, Minecraft might seem like an unusual candidate for ray-tracing, but at least it can be added to the relativity small list of games, such as Battlefield V and Metro Exodus, that support the slick lighting technique.
And we have to say it looks damn fine with ray-tracing added. Beams of light add massed of depth and extra dynamics to the blocky world of Minecraft's interior and exteriors. There could even be an argument that ray-tracing applied on a game with seemingly simple aesthetics delivers better results than seeing it used on a triple-A title with more graphical doodahs that you can throw a GeForce stick at.
Ray-tracing for Minecraft will be pushed out to PC gamers for free, but they'll need to have a Windows 10 PC running a GeForce RTX 2060 or higher. While Nvidia has software support for ray-tracing on older 10-series GeForce cards, they won't be supported with this Minecraft update.
How taxing Minecraft's ray-tracing chops will be on a PC has yet to be made clear, but if you're running a GeForce RTX card, there's a good chance you've already got a pretty powerful machine. µ
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