One of my favorite marketing blunders in Xbox history was when the firm commissioned an entire musical to market Minecraft's ill-fated Super Duper Graphics Pack, only for it to be later canceled unceremoniously. The Minecraft Super Duper Graphics Pack was supposed to bring enhanced resolution, textures, shaders, and lighting to the Xbox One X version of Minecraft, the firm's popular craft 'em up survival adventure, which is one of the most popular games of all time. Minecraft exists on practically every platform on earth, complete with cross-play, mobile controls, and dedicated rentable servers. Where the game stumbles is in its lack of graphics scaling for modern platforms, with heavily-modded Java Edition versions remaining the only way to experience enhanced Minecraft graphics with shaders. Users on the cross-platform Bedrock Edition, however, may have just been given a lifeline.
Shared by Xbox watcher IdleSloth, dataminers have discovered graphics strings in the latest Minecraft Preview build, offering a glimpse at possible efforts to add modern visuals to the aging game ... or are they?
(Rumor) Minecraft maybe getting graphical update (shaders) and ray-traying soonIn the yesterday’s Minecraft preview there are new HIDDEN Graphics Options in the game filesCould be announced at the #XboxShowcaseCredit to @xKingDarkYT 📸 and @pluginer_tr for the heads up 👏 pic.twitter.com/c31zgPMmCmMay 26, 2023
The contention lies over strings like "graphicsModeOptions.rayTraced," which, of course, cannot be enabled on console right now. Minecraft does have raytracing support on the Windows Bedrock Edition, thanks to a partnership with NVIDIA's RTX platform. The Minecraft RTX features are still in beta, however, and if these strings are indeed new for the regular client then it could indicate they're gearing up for general availability. But thus far, and as far as we know, there's no evidence that these features could make their way to the AMD-based Xbox consoles, which use Microsoft's in-house techniques for rendering raytracing based on DirectX.
Now, none of this is to suggest that it isn't happening. Back in 2020, Mojang actually did enable raytracing on the Xbox version of Minecraft at one point, but then claimed it was an "accident," (lol?) which is another strange twist in this irritating rabbit hole of poor support Minecraft has received on its supposed home console. During the Xbox Series X preview events back in 2020, one content creator noted that he saw a demonstration of Minecraft running raytracing on Xbox consoles, which Microsoft later clarified again was not intended to tease any product announcement.
We've written editorials on Mojang's spotty support of Xbox consoles in the past, as well as pleading with them to come clean on raytracing and shader support for Xbox. Thus far, we've not really had anything concrete to suggest what will happen in either direction.
Sadly, this latest report is just another tease in a long history of hopes of Minecraft stepping into the modern era on consoles — but perhaps it could be something more? We're still investigating the latest Minecraft Preview build, and if we find anything more concrete (or, cobblestone, etc.) we'll be sure to let you know. For now, why don't you kick back, and let the Minecraft Super Duper Musical above serenade you with its overtures of unfulfilled promises.
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Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!