I've heard that at least half a dozen people have said things like, "You would not believe it, but ray tracing Minecraft is truly an unforgettable sight." But I would believe it because Minecraft is, in my opinion, even in its vanilla form one of the greatest games ever made ̵
When I had the opportunity to watch Minecraft with Raytracing on the PAX Australia this weekend, I was a) very eager and b) without illusions, Minecraft with Raytracing would be anything but amazing. Honestly it is very nice. I want to live in it.
In fact, there were two demos: one in a regular Minecraft build and the other with a new texture pack that demonstrates the effects of raytracing on Nvidia. There is no fixed launch date for the Nvidia RTX update, but these textures are likely to be introduced along with the update.
First and foremost, however, is a world without new textures:
In the above GIF I switch between normal Minecraft and raytraced Minecraft. The gameplay effects of Ray Tracing are pretty obvious: the darkness under the canopy is really dark and not just a dark shade of gray. The sunlight penetrates the leaves and gives a biome we all know too well a feeling of grandiosity.
Although I have not taken any usable footage, ray tracing spelunking is a more threatening affair when the darkness is really dark and the torches along the way provide a real sense of refuge.
Water is dramatically changing as expected: it is transparent (according to its depth) and reflections corresponding to the direction of the sun appear.
The structure of the Nvidia Texture Package focuses on a modern mansion – as found in Ikea catalogs and high quality interior design magazines. It's a nice vanilla version, but with the HD textures and the raytracing function it comes alive: Notice how colored lights connect – you get an idea of how eye-catching a game like Cyberpunk 2077 can be with raytracing:
Here is another view from the pool. The transition is like the difference between Looney Tunes and Pixar:
Many of the textures added by Nvidia are emission blocks, in other words, they are light sources. In Vanilla Minecraft is an example of a glowstone or a sea lantern or a gardening torch. These illuminate the immediate environment with a sledgehammer, but with raytracing blocks that actually emerge from the darkness of the environment:
Given that Minecraft's worlds are completely modular and cut by users into all sorts of shapes, this is pretty much the best way to experiment with the effects of ray tracing. Using light as a utility, not as an environmental effect, is likely to be the most exciting part of the implementation. I only have 20 minutes to build, but after seeing the following environment created by Nvidia to demonstrate the effects of lighting and reflection in an otherwise dark environment, I would like this to be my home.
Raytracing for Minecraft does not have a fixed release date, but Jody reported in August that we can expect it next year. Nobody needs to be sold on Raytracing anymore – but if you have doubts about the implications, Minecraft is the best way to test it, I think.