We've seen modders add path tracing (which is similar to ray tracing) to Minecraft with impressive effects (opens in new tab). But now Nvidia have announced they're working on official ray tracing support for it. This, only a week after the Super Duper Graphics pack was cancelled for being "too technically demanding" (opens in new tab).
Here's how Nvidia describe the benefits of upgrading a voxel-based game in this way (opens in new tab): "Lighting is upgraded to real-time global illumination, enabling light to realistically illuminate blocks and buildings as the world is modified. Emissive blocks like Glowstone and Lava can illuminate environments, along with other dynamic game elements. Water, glass and other reflective surfaces show accurate real-time reflections, mirroring their surroundings."
The good news is that this upgrade will itself be moddable, and so "new in-game designs that were previously impossible become a reality, be those a spooky ravine that fades into darkness, filled with hostile mobs drawn to the light of the player’s torch; fun houses made of mirrors; or caves that glow with the precious resources or dangerous lava within."
According to Polygon (opens in new tab), we can expect ray tracing to arrive in Minecraft "within the next year".