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Is Ray Tracing all that?


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I was playing Resi 2 Remake last night (incredible game, by the way), and I was continually stunned by how good it looks on the relatively lowly Series S. It’s a very dark game in many parts and the lighting and shadows are really atmospheric and, it seems to me at least, realistic. It’s a consistently gorgeous game.

 

Most importantly, it’s rock solid 60fps. A couple of months in the new gen and I already feel like I never want to touch a 30fps game again.

 

So I just want to ask about ray tracing. It seems to be mentioned everywhere at the moment, and as yet I don’t really understand why it’s such a big deal when lighting in so many games is already pretty great. It seems as though it is going to push a lot of games back to 30fps even on the most powerful consoles, and I can’t see that ever being desirable. Do games look that much better with it?

 

As long as games continue to let you choose between frame rate and ray tracing I presume I can just ignore it. Maybe one for next gen?

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If you don't care about it in these control examples you probably won't else where. Control looks flat without it for example - so when done well it adds an entirely new dimension of realism and immersion for me. 

 

Also due to DLSS I didn't have to choose between 30/60 - Control ran maxed 4k with full RT at above 60fps all the way through on PC - on consoles the framerate choice makes it a tougher sell for sure

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  • Timmo changed the title to Is Ray Tracing all that?
3 minutes ago, Uzi said:

 

 

 

If you don't care about it in these control examples you probably won't else where. Control looks flat without it for example - so when done well it adds an entirely new dimension of realism and immersion for me. 

 

It looks better but is it worth the trade-off between 30 and 60fps on console? How often in Control are you stood there examining the shadows on a wall or desk or reflections on a picture compared to the amount of time you spend in combat where you won't even notice it?

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4 minutes ago, Shimmyhill said:

Imagine ray tracing and 60fps!

 

Just a view of the Minecraft with ray tracing on is enough to know that it is all that and a potential game changer!

 

Still can't believe Microsoft haven't pushed that out the door for the Series X

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8 minutes ago, Vemsie said:

Miles Morales has a 60 fps + ray tracing setting. 
It definitely adds a lot to the immersion, Cyberpunk and Control basically look like different games on PC.

I imagine Naughty Dog could well release games with both as well seeing how far ahead technically they were on PS4.

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Someone told me that this gen's consoles just aren't powerful enough to do it properly and results so far indicate that's correct. It's not worth the trade off, IMO. 

 

It's interesting that you mention RE2 remake, @Timmo I've been playing it on Series X and had previously played the Demo on One X. I was really surprised by how soft the image is on the new console, but felt it was astonishing looking when I played it the first time around. I think that expectations of graphical fidelity move along quite quickly. I hope that Raytracing doesn't become a thing that people decide they want, since that'll probably mean more 30fps, more 1440p, etc, etc.

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I watched the DF video on the PS5 version of Control last night I'd be stressing about whether to go 60 or ray tracing. It seems like both options add a lot. I was always a fan of being able to choose between performance and quality but now it's here I'm not sure.

 

I reckon I might just dogmatically always go for 60fps just so I don't have to think about it any more.

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Its nice and all but i probably wouldnt notice a difference unless these comparison videos were out there. That control one for example, not enough of a difference for me to really care, im focused on gameplay, objectives etc rather than stopping to see a reflection in a coffee pot. 

 

It seems a lot of games this gen on consoles will be 60fps or 30fps with some ray tracing. Its a no brainer. 60fps trumps 30 each and every time. 

 

Also, when a game runs at 60 i think it just looks better graphically than in 30. Its hard to explain, but that smoothness and clarity just seems far better.

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2 minutes ago, Timmo said:

I imagine Naughty Dog could well release games with both as well seeing how far ahead technically they were on PS4.


They could, but I'm not sure they will as they seem to love their baked-in lighting solutions. It will be interesting to find out though.

Ray tracing really shines on PC with DLSS. On consoles it's a nice thing to have but not at the expense of frame rates I'd say. 

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It's a clear, obvious difference between having it and not, and it's impossible to argue that it's not simply a clear-cut improvement to image quality having ray tracing than not (if you overlook the few examples where people got carried away and everything's made of polished glass) but I have to say that in most cases I'd prefer having the fps. Turns out all the approximations and smoke and mirrors look pretty good!

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I played a bit of Control on PS5 last night switching between the performance and quality mode and honestly, whilst it does look nicer it absolutely isn't worth the drop from 60 FPS for me.

I realise this is a console specific take of it, since on a decent PC you can have both! But as someone who primarily games on console, 60 FPS will always win out over ray tracing and 30 (or below!) I just hope devs continue to offer both and not go all in on ray tracing and 30 FPS.

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I think its a nice feature to have available to developers to use to enhance an experience if it would benefit from it. What I don't want to really see is everything to have RT at the cost of everything else just because RT is the current "thing" to sell games.


Things like The Medium - slow paced adventure game where you can really appreciate the locations and take time to look around are a great use for it. However a fast paced shooter probably not so much.

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Yes, it's the future of real-time rendering. It clears multiple hurdles to creating realistic* virtual worlds and should be far less labour intensive then the ways developers currently 'fake' a similar look.

 

That said, this generation of consoles is more of a testing ground. If PlayStation and Xbox didn't have any RT hardware you can be sure that would hamstring the technique's prevalence on PC as well, whereas now you're going to have a much wider pool of developers figuring out best practises, optimisations, etc.

 

Right now developers can't really reap the full benefits of ray tracing, as they still need to do the work to accommodate hardware that can't handle it. That will inevitably change at some point, though, and the selective implementations currently being deployed will have huge learning benefit going forward.

 

 

*Not necessarily in graphical style, just the way everything is naturally lit. Ray tracing would do a lot for something like Superhot, for example.

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14 minutes ago, Ry said:

Also, when a game runs at 60 i think it just looks better graphically than in 30. Its hard to explain, but that smoothness and clarity just seems far better.

 

This is definitely true for me too, 30 is blurry and indistinct. I recently tried playing Black Ops (which runs at 120) at 60 and felt the same thing happened there too. More frames = more definition, despite, I believe, the 120fps mode running at a lower resolution than the 60 fps mode. 

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It's nice, but up against a smooth 60fps it'd get yeeted in short order every time.

 

Was playing Control on PS5 to check out the ray tracing about half an hour ago, and while 60fps is absolutely the way to go I did get a brief 'aww' moment every time the shinies became less shiny as I flicked back and forth.

 

Getting rid of the 30fps judder though? Worth it.

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37 minutes ago, Uncle Mike said:

It's a clear, obvious difference between having it and not, and it's impossible to argue that it's not simply a clear-cut improvement to image quality having ray tracing than not.

 

I don't know about either of these statements. I thought it was great in Miles Morales, because you're constantly seeing your reflection in buildings you swing past, but looking at all the Control comparisons, I think if you did a blind test in any scene without a bang obvious reflection in it, most would be hard pressed to tell which was which.

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Bloody hell, Control is pretty much the main poster child for ray tracing. I think the game is utterly transformed by it. Without it, everything feels just drab and lifeless!

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Right now raytracing is nice to have but not essential, and if I had the choice between 60fps and 30fps+raytracing I'd go for the former every time. But this is just the beginning, it's only going to get better and better. The next next-gen will see properly-implemented raytracing, not just the shiny cherry on top it is now (unless MS and Sony split the market mid-getn again). 

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Whilst not the best game, quite possibly the best example for me was Watch Dogs legion's London. With RT off, it looks like a decent enough game, but with it switched on it is genuinely transformed. It's hard to explain, but walking down a street where so much is happening in real time, like a neon sign reflecting off a passing car which in turn reflects it off a puddle on the pavement - it just gave the world a really immersive feel and transformed it into something that felt truly next gen - not just increased resolution and textures but something deeper that made the game feel less like a game and more like a place. I dunno.

 

I get why people turn it off for the sake of frames, but the tech itself is incredibly exciting imo.

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It seems developers are largely juggling between frame rate, ray tracing and resolution this gen. Personally, of that I'd sacrifice resolution all day every day. Hopefully things will get better when MS / Sony / AMD get their smart upscaling solutions up and running, where it should be possible to get something extremely close to native 4k whilst the machines only have to render at something closer to 1080p.

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43 minutes ago, Vimster said:

The next next-gen will see properly-implemented raytracing, not just the shiny cherry on top it is now (unless MS and Sony split the market mid-getn again). 

 

I assume the latter will be necessary for the former.

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I've said this before, but good ray tracing means you'll notice when it *isn't* there, more than when it is, because your brain will get used to the 'proper' way things look with ray tracing if you see enough of it so anything else will stand out. It should be a subtle effect in the main that just adds to the realism, if done well.


Edit: I think people expecting ray tracing to make everything wonderful and completely new and amazing are perhaps missing the point. A bit like @Opinionated Ham Scarecrowsays, it's about making things feel a bit real. Your brain doesn't have to stop every 10 seconds and look at every reflection for it to convince you that what you are seeing on screen is a bit like how we actually see things in the world and, after time (as I say above) you'll start to notice it a lot more when games don't have it.

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2 hours ago, Majora said:

 

It looks better but is it worth the trade-off between 30 and 60fps on console? How often in Control are you stood there examining the shadows on a wall or desk or reflections on a picture compared to the amount of time you spend in combat where you won't even notice it?

Very tough choice - in any game where action and fluidity means anything most likely the FPS everytime (Demon's Souls feels horrible in 30fps mode to me when normally I can handle some games at 30fps fine). I also think ultimately with 10/12TF AMD hardware who are on their first gent of RT - you're going to get a compromised RT experience on consoles either way. PC and Nvidia have already had two years to start advancing it. 

 

What I would say is ray tracing is not something you stop and stare and admire. It's like saying you stop and admire good shadows in a game. You don't. Have a game without shadows or with shitty shadows though and it can completely pull you out of the experience. When you are walking through places with a lot of glass and liquid and lighting through certain sources - once you get used to RT the previously "fake" options can feel like that. It's one of those things when you experience it in game - you definitely feel the absence. It's hard to advocate for unless you've experience a very good example of it like Control/Cyberpunk/Watchdogs and you need sufficient grunt to get the correct RT implementation. 

 

I think ray tracing is being missold as a make things super shiny simulator. It is about giving you more presence in a world viewed through 2D screens which is continually going to be a challenge and hardware should work more on these effects as we essentially don't need more pixels anymore to make things feel less fake and baked.

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To those who might know; are ray traced shadows/lighting/global illumination any less computationally expensive than ray traced reflections? Or is it exactly the same, an all-or-nothing deal?

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Listening to the Giabt Bombcast it was pointed out that while the current gen consoles do ray tracing hardware built in, it's also AMD's first stab at ray tracing hardware abd apparently their PC graphics cards are also disappointing in that department. While we're comparing it to how Control looks all bells and whistles running on an high-end Nvidia card. We might be stuck with disappointing ray tracing until the PS5 Pro rolls around.

 

Don't know how true slk that is, nut thought it was at least interesting enough to post.

 

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