You've already heard the news: we've confirmed that the highly-anticipated Cyberpunk 2077 is going to be using ray tracing. The CD Projekt Red team's latest title will be taking steps into the next frontier of graphical fidelity. However, what is ray tracing aside from something that beautifies a game? With more and more titles deciding to employ this sort of graphics technology, now's a great time to get caught up with our Ray Tracing guide; we'll cover what it is, how it works, and other games that will be using it.
Ray Tracing Guide: What Is It
Ray tracing is a specific method for rendering graphics. Commonly used in TV and in movies, ray tracing focuses on utilizing light and shadows in environments to make things look more realistic. It's a particularly intensive process on related hardware, but as we push the limits of technology, more studios have been able to embrace techniques like this as computers and consoles can shoulder more. Seen a CGI scene in a film recently that you know had to have been combined with live footage? Ray tracing would have been the culprit.
This isn't an entirely new application of the technology to games; it's been used before to render more life-like environments. How does this work? Essentially, it focuses on lighting. Ray tracing involves a special algorithm which tracks where light may fall on obstacles, people, or just anything protruding from the world and simulates what that would look like to the naked eye. Nifty, huh?
Ray Tracing Guide: Games That Use Ray Tracing
Outside of the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077, there are a number of existing games and upcoming titles which use this ray tracing technology to showcase the best of their environments. Some honorable mentions include:
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2
Watch Dogs: Legion
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
As this sort of technology becomes more prevalent beyond just being used to adjust ambient occlusion and to make reflections and shadows look prettier, we can look forward to even more high-fidelity graphics and realism in games. If we thought that titles were immersive before, this next frontier will make them even more so. This is just the beginning, and we're excited for it to become the norm.