Ever since its first trailer, Minecraft’s RTX update has been a hot and highly anticipated release. The beta update went live today, and honestly, it is every bit as good as we wanted it to be. While in games like Metro Exodus and Battlefield V, one would sometimes have to look hard to see the ray-traced enhancements, the jump in Minecraft’s visual fidelity is instantly obvious. Thanks to its simplistic textures and models, Minecraft makes use of path tracing to do lighting calculations, which proves to be quite heavy on the hardware for other games. And the difference it creates in Minecraft’s graphics is like night and day.
The world looks and feels exponentially better, whether its volumetrics streaming through trees and windows, or the reflections off of metallic and glossy objects in the structure. There’s a newfound sense of wonder, and even though the beta only has access to a limited number of worlds, each of them has been created by the biggest Minecraft players and they all look better than the other. And it’s not like they just added on the ray tracing features without much forethought, you can easily sense the amount of dedication and hard work that must have gone into making Minecraft look as amazing as it does. Whether you’re roaming around in the brightly lit house, or finding your way to the underwater palace or dodging your way through the lava-filled caverns, the game is a sight to behold.
We played the game on the ultra-powerful Alienware Area 51m gaming laptop, which has some of the best components any gamer could ask for – an intel i7-9700K, an RTX 2070 GPU and 16 gigs of RAM. But obviously, when the difference in the visuals is so much, seeing a performance drop was expected. While vanilla Minecraft would easily run with an average framerate upwards of 100 FPS, turning on RTX made it drop down to somewhere around 35 FPS. But this didn’t prove to be a problem at all, because with the RTX beta update NVIDIA also launched DLSS 2.0, which makes use of AI rendering to upscale the game in order to take some load off the graphics card. And it works like a charm, because our Area 51m was able to run Minecraft RTX comfortably at around 60 FPS average while retaining all the visual enhancements. On the laptop’s crisp and super-smooth IPS display, the experience was really something else.
Calling Minecraft RTX a simple visual upgrade is an understatement. It’s a real game-changing experience, because not only does it make the game look better, the lighting changes and the new PBR materials added to the game mean that you’ll have to reconsider a lot of things when it comes to building new worlds, like what kind of materials you want, what lighting you want for your structures after dark and a lot more. Not only does it add more depth to the game, it gives everyone, who may or may not have played Minecraft before to go ahead and check it out. The only caveat being, you need an RTX GPU. And if things keep going like this, having one sounds like a really good idea.