Facepalm: It looked like ray tracing was finally coming to Minecraft, until Mojang Studios pulled the rug out from under Insiders. Developers had evidently left "prototype" RT code in the latest preview build of the game on accident. "False start. Microsoft. Five-year penalty. Second down."
Earlier this week, Xbox Insiders reported they were testing an "optimized" Minecraft build with ray tracing options. The inclusion indicated that Mojang would have RT support ready in an upcoming update. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case.
On Thursday, developers announced that ray tracing in the Xbox Series X|S version of Minecraft is not imminent. What insiders saw this week was an early prototype that was accidentally left in the preview build. They have since removed the code from the preview without indicating when we would see it again.
The previous Minecraft Preview build available to Xbox Insiders inadvertently included prototype code for raytracing support on Xbox consoles. This early prototype code has been removed from Preview and doesn't signal near future plans to bring raytracing support to consoles.— Minecraft (@Minecraft) March 31, 2022
Microsoft promised that Minecraft ray tracing was coming to the PC version in 2019, and it delivered. Around the same time, it hinted that Xbox Series consoles were capable of RT in Minecraft and had screenshots to prove it. Today's tweet indicates that it's not coming any time soon.
"This early prototype code has been removed from Preview and doesn't signal near future plans to bring raytracing support to consoles," the developers tweeted from the official Minecraft account.
Tom Warren got to test the prototype before its removal, and it clearly needed work. For one, it required a workaround to get ray tracing enabled. Plus, without FSR support for upscaling, it was not that impressive.
Sorry for the false alarm. This one needs more time to simmer.