Update from August 25th: Something is happening again on the ray tracing front, some new games are making use of the new technology or will be doing so as soon as they appear. We have expanded the list of available and upcoming raytracing games on the PC accordingly – not only with the confirmed effects, but also with the release dates. New information includes Call of Duty Vanguard, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Dying Light 2, Crysis Remastered 2 & 3 and other titles. In the meantime, if you are interested in graphics card performance in ray tracing, the ray tracing performance index is recommended to you. In addition, we don’t want to withhold a completely new, commented raytracing showcase from you, which Nvidia has just published:
Ray tracing, the virtual replica of light rays, is here to stay. Ray tracing has long been the gold standard in offline rendering, for example for animated cinema films, and the technology is also used in professional design to model as closely as possible to reality. In games that rely on interaction and thus high frame rates and low latency, it failed for decades because of performance or the right ideas on how to combine ray tracing with rasterizing.
That is now over. With the collection of interfaces DirectX 12, more precisely with its sub-item DirectX Raytracing (DXR), a standard was decided three years ago to get things rolling. Nvidia was the first manufacturer of graphics hardware and software to start, and the Geforce RTX 20 graphics cards (Turing) with ray tracing arithmetic units have been available since autumn 2018. The successor generation Geforce RTX 30 (Ampere) is further developing the basis and AMD has also been on board since the end of 2020 with the Radeon graphics cards of the RX-6000 series (RDNA 2). So the hardware is there – and what do we like to do with it? To play!
Ray tracing: these games can …
The software landscape has made great strides since the introduction of DXR, countless developers have already dealt with ray tracing or published finished games with the beautiful ray tracing. The resulting learning effects make the complex calculations more and more efficient, which will benefit future games. The topic was given fresh impetus by the broader hardware base, because the Xbox Series X | S and Playstation 5 consoles released at the end of 2020 are based on the same GPU DNA as the Radeon RX 6000 series. The work on pretty, yet fluidly representable processes for cross-platform developments is therefore in full swing.
The following list shows which PC games as of now, in late summer 2021, can be spruced up by selective ray tracing. Most of them are based on Epic’s Unreal Engine 4, because this graphics engine has allowed developers to integrate the new effects with relatively little effort for about a year. The dominance of corresponding games – almost a third of the publications – is therefore hardly surprising. Ray tracing reflections can be seen in most games, as this effect is one of the most striking in the repertoire of the future of graphics. Some also fire rays to create accurate shadows. The potentially most complex, because it fills the screen, is Raytracing Global Illumination, which is still used in a few games.
Source: PC Games Hardware
… and these games are still to come
Many more games with ray tracing support will be released throughout the year. Some of them have already been announced, as the following list shows. We expect more new additions and more specific information on release dates and ray tracing effects for upcoming games. The list will be updated as soon as official announcements are made for new games with ray tracing support.
Source: PC Games Hardware
Background: Raytracing, DXR, Vulkan, DLSS, FSR
DXR, short for DirectX Raytracing, is a Windows 10-exclusive interface and part of DirectX 12, which AMD defined and approved together with Nvidia, Intel, Microsoft and other committee members. There are still some myths surrounding the terms ray tracing, DirectX 12, Vulkan, DXR, RTX and DLSS. PCGH clarifies (again) on the current occasion.
RTX is not only an abbreviation in the name of the current Geforce series, but also a brand of Nvidia. RTX-20 graphics cards have been able to accelerate real-time ray tracing in hardware since autumn 2018. Due to Nvidia’s pioneering position, it turned out that many games advertise or advertise with “RTX support” – and that RTX is often used synonymously with ray tracing. Nvidia’s marketing is not innocent of this, but what actually means is DXR support, i.e. support for Microsoft standards. If the latter is used – and this is the case with all Raytracing-compatible DirectX 12 games – every DXR-capable graphics card is compatible. Thus, the new effects can also be admired with a Radeon RX 6000. Also those starting in the 1st quarter of 2022 Intel Arc series gaming graphics cards will be compatible.
In addition to the DXR component of the DX12, there is another programming interface (API) for implementing ray tracing effects: Vulkan. The non-Windows interface is also being promoted by a consortium (Khronos), but is not developing at the same pace as DirectX. So it happens that Vulkan Raytracing was not fully defined when the RTX-20 cards appeared. Nevertheless, Nvidia and some game developers experimented with the API to provide Geforce buyers with added value. As with Vulkan’s predecessor OpenGL, manufacturers can add their own functional extensions and thus address their hardware. Other manufacturers are free to choose whether or not to make their drivers compatible. In the meantime, DirectX 12 and Vulkan offer enough preparation and thus comfort to save yourself such extra rounds.
And then there is DLSS. Behind this is a particularly high-quality AI upsampling created by Nvidia. Although DLSS is neither bound to ray tracing nor a lower-level API, it is mostly used in the context of ray tracing. The reason is simple: DLSS is Nvidia’s answer to the enormous computing load involved in calculating the radiation, and it reduces it. Here, too, there is sometimes talk of an “RTX feature” – and that can be left as it is, because DLSS is a proprietary Nvidia feature that only works on RTX-20 and RTX-30 graphics cards. This means that DLSS Geforce “RTXclusive” remains.
The FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) published by AMD in June is conceptually the exact opposite of DLSS: It is open-source, works in principle with any graphics card, APU, notebook GPU and consoles and is comparatively easy to implement in games – even in those that have long appeared. FSR works both with the lower-level APIs DirectX 12 and Vulkan, as well as with the widespread DirectX 11. Like DLSS, FSR also unfolds its relieving effect best in conjunction with ray tracing, but is not necessarily tied to it.
[PLUS] Instructions: Pimp every PC game graphically
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