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Minecraft with RTX will enter beta this week

Everyone's favorite crude, blocky creative adventure game now looks better than Crysis thanks to a new partnership between Microsoft and NVIDIA. The new beta drops this week.

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The original test releases of Minecraft manage to whip up a small, dedicated community of players who marveled at the simplicity and freedom that the block-based game provided. As development progressed, the scope of the game grew and it saw release on consoles, fueling a rise in popularity that ended up with Minecraft becoming one of the best-selling video games of all time. During its decade of dominance, Minecraft has featured a somewhat crude, blocky presentation that certainly had its own style, but objectively looked dated from the get-go. Thanks to a partnership between Microsoft and NVIDIA, Minecraft is getting a massive facelift while maintaining the simple charm that helped it take over the world. Minecraft with RTX offers a fully path-traced renderer that provides astoundingly good lighting and reflection quality for users of RTX GPUs. Owners of the Bedrock edition of the game can get a taste this week when the Minecraft with RTX beta opens on April 16.

The Minecraft with RTX beta will offer six new worlds that were hand-crafted by the community to help show off the power of the path-traced effects. These effects have a dramatic effect on how the game looks. Global illumination allows for light sources (particularly the sun) to cast light across landscapes and for that light to bounce off of surfaces to further illuminate objects not in the direct path of the light source. This bounced light can also cast contact hardening shadows on objects inside structures or even deep inside caves. Beams of light that pass through colored glass will be able to paint surfaces in lush hues, much like similar windows in real life.

In addition to the amazing lighting simulation, Minecraft with RTX also brings state-of-the-art reflections to the presentation. The surface of water can show realistic, perspective-correct reflections of the environment. Other objects, like stone blocks or enemy mobs, also benefit from these enhanced reflections due to PBR textures. These PBR textures store information on how reflective a particular surface may be, allowing a wide range of potential reflection types, from mirror-like to coarse.

Per-pixel emissive lighting simulation allows for unmatched realism in how lighting is calculated by the game. Individual pixels of light from blocks, torches, and more can cast path-traced lights that illuminate other blocks or show up in reflections. This also allows for light to flicker and move over surfaces to help recreate the real-life look you would see from a torch near a wall or other surface. The RTX effects also provide interactions with volumetrics, allowing for realistic-looking mist or god rays.

To get your hands on the Minecraft with RTX beta, you’ll need to wait until April 16 at 1:00 PM ET. The beta will be available to owners of the Bedrock edition of Minecraft on Windows 10. An NVIDIA Turing-based GPU, such as the RTX 2060 or RTX 2080 will be required to enjoy the beta. NVIDIA will also be providing a Game-Ready driver for the beta sometime later today.

Contributing Tech Editor

Chris Jarrard likes playing games, crankin' tunes, and looking for fights on obscure online message boards. He understands that breakfast food is the only true food. Don't @ him.

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