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You can now play Minecraft with ray-traced graphics

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Let there be light

Minecraft is pretty simple, and there’s not a whole lot going on visually — most enemies are blocks, and even 11 years ago the game could run on low-end computers. But the Dec. 8 update changes that by adding ray-traced lighting, as well as other helpful changes and fixes to the game.

Ray tracing

Ray tracing is a method for treating light in games in a realistic manner, where it changes when it hits a specific material or through a pane of glass. It’s very complicated to set up multiple light sources and how it interacts with everything in a room, and so it requires a powerful video card. Minecraft is so simple that it can really show off the power of this technology. Now, if players have a powerful enough computer and download the newest update, they can turn it on in their own worlds.

Known as Minecraft with RTX, the ray tracing features in Minecraft have been available in beta form since April, and now they’ve finally come out of beta. Check out our article from April for more details on what this update brings to Minecraft, including real-time calculations of reflections, shadows, and ambient occlusion.

Players can dramatically change the look and feel of the game. Immerse yourself in volumetric fog. See Minecraft in a whole new light with a cutting-edge dynamic lighting system, Ray Tracing

Players can also experience advanced kinds of block textures including metallic surfaces, bump maps, normal maps, and light emission (Glowy, reflective dirt blocks? Yes, please!)

Be sure to check out the Frequently Asked Questions article for an in-depth look at Ray Tracing features

Content in the Marketplace is now aware of Ray Tracing capabilities and will display a label indicating support within the user interface

Minecraft with RTX requires a modern graphics card with dedicated ray tracing hardware: either one of Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 20- or 30-series GPUs, or a card from AMD’s new Radeon RX 6000 line. It will not run on Nvidia’s GTX cards, even though some of them have received software-based ray tracing support.

Virtual reality

Minecraft on Windows 10 now uses OpenXR, which supports Windows Mixed Reality and Oculus VR headsets. This makes it easier to jump into Minecraft in virtual reality, and makes things a little more consistent.

OpenXR is an open-source, royalty-free API standard that provides engines native access to a wide range of devices from vendors that span across VR/MR devices

OpenXR implementation in Minecraft brings a more unified experience across current VR/MR devices as well as support for those yet to come

You will still be able to launch through the Mixed Reality Portal, as well as the Oculus Store. However, there is also a URL to launch in VR:

minecraft://mode/?OpenXR=true

This can be made into a desktop shortcut, pinned to the start menu, bookmarked in a browser, or anything else you can do with a URL

The patch also contains volume settings that allow players to change the volume of individual sound categories, like hostile enemies or the weather. There are also a host of little fixes: Netherite Armor now gives a knockback reduction, villagers shouldn’t steal each other’s work stations anymore, and bees no longer roam too far from their home beehive.