Nvidia has announced a partnership with Microsoft's Mojang which has brought DirectX Raytracing (DXR) support to popular block-'em-up Minecraft - even as the official 4K graphics upgrade pack was cancelled.
Boasting more than a million copies sold before it even officially launched, Mojang's Minecraft has withstood the test of time - even following the acquisition of its developer by Microsoft and subsequent departure of its now-considerably-richer founder Markus 'Notch' Persson. Two years ago, Microsoft announced that it was to update the game with a 4K-resolution texture pack and graphics overhaul - a plan the company announced it was abandoning earlier this month after finding it impossible to balance the performance of the so-called Super Duper Graphics Pack across the game's various target platforms.
Now Microsoft has partnered with Nvidia to offer something else: Support for hardware-accelerated path tracing via DirectX Raytracing (DXR) when running on a system with compatible hardware.
Announced at Gamescom this week, the update offers considerable visual improvement over the stock shaders - though largely mimics previous path-tracing upgrades available from third-party developers. 'A peek at the result is stunning. Soft shadows lend their magic to caves and nighttime environments,' claims Nvidia's Keoki Young. 'Reflections bring the game’s ubiquitous water to life. Refractions and scattering effects transform everything from glass to glittering diamonds. The game’s blocky world — once Minecraft’s creative community gets its hands on this — will never be the same. And now the tens of millions who start out gaming in Minecraft will demand nothing less.'
'Ray tracing sits at the centre of what we think is next for Minecraft,' claims Saxs Persson, franchise creative director of Minecraft at Microsoft. 'RTX gives the Minecraft world a brand-new feel to it. In normal Minecraft, a block of gold just appears yellow, but with ray tracing turned on, you really get to see the specular highlight, you get to see the reflection, you can even see a mob reflected in it.'
The launch comes as Nvidia continues to push the RTX ray tracing acceleration capabilities of selected Turing graphics cards, boasting of a range of incoming titles to include the technology: Dying Light 2, Synced: Off-Planet, Metro Exodus: The Two Colonels, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Control, Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2, Watch Dogs: Legion, and Wolfenstein Youngblood. The company is also seeing some pushback from developers, however: Kunos Simulazioni announced earlier this month that racing sim Assetto Corsa Competizione, due to launch in November, will not include RTX support as 'there is no reason to steal development resources and time for a very low frame rate implementation.'
Nvidia has published an interactive image comparative to demonstrate the difference RTX support makes to Minecraft.
February 26 2021 | 22:15