Best Ray Tracing Games on RTX 2070 Super.
I recently got bitten by a bullet and bought an Nvidia RTX 2070 Super. I’m a long time AMD fan and have owned several GPUs from Team Red, including the R9 Fury, RX 480, and RX 580. The recent arrival of AMD Navi cards – RX 5700 and 5700 XT – offered compelling reasons to stick with them. The flagship 5700XT delivered a performance that often rivaled the monstrous GTX 1080 Ti. However, this generation Nvidia has something special: RTX ray tracing.
While this is not a true implementation of ray tracing, as we see in CGI movies, RTX offers significant visual fidelity improvements in games that support it. Titles like Metro Exodus fully transform with RTX effects enabled.
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Is RTX Just A Big Scam?
I was more than a little skeptical at first, given Nvidia’s long and dubious history of releasing hardware-locked â€œenhancementsâ€ that did little other than slow down performance (hello PhysX and Hairworks). However, it appears that a wide variety of studios are accepting RTX.
It is found in many games that I am looking forward to, such as Cyberpunk 2077 and Atomic Heart –. Control, the latest AAA game with improved RTX, is due out on August 27, 2019. So it makes sense to take a look at some of the other RTX-enabled games on the market. Let’s take a look.
Games that support ray tracing
1. Exit the metro
RTX has been (to some extent) rightly criticized for being useless. And as I said, Nvidia has a dubious history of releasing performance-depressing gimmicks, exclusive hardware. But RTX lighting in Metro Exodus is a game-changer. This clearly proves that hybrid ray tracing can be the future of visual effects. Most RTX games do not use a full ray-traced pipeline. This is because it would be too computationally expensive.
Ray-traced lighting completely reimagines lighting in Metro Exodus
Instead, they use conventional raster rendering with ray tracing implemented to handle certain visual features. In the case of Metro Exodus, RTX is used to replace the game’s global lighting system. All lighting in the outside world – lighting cast by the sun – uses RTX. This allows you to create stunning and physically accurate lighting effects in which light and shadow are realistically cast on objects, characters, and the environment. In the post-apocalyptic world of Metro Exodus, there are many areas of low light. Traditional global illumination has often made these areas unnaturally bright. However, with RTX enabled, low-light areas receive physically accurate lighting.
Remove lighters and flashlights: dark areas are really dark when ray tracing is on
It matters for the gameplay. Artyom will have to use a flashlight much more often. This is because RTX makes certain areas so dark that you literally can’t see them without an external light source. Metro Exodus is a demanding game to start with, and RTX dramatically reduces performance. However, DLSS scaling offsets some of the performance impacts. The RTX 2070 Super can provide more or less stable blocking at 60 FPS with RTX and DLSS enabled.
2. Quake II RTX
Remember when I said that most RTX implementations don’t have a full ray-traced pipeline? If you’re wondering why Quake II RTX offers an extensive explanation. Quake II is a first-person shooter that was launched back in 1997. The 3dfx Voodoo 2, the top GPU of the day, had 8MB of video memory, and ran at 60MHz.
Full ray-traced rendering pipeline makes launching Quake II thousands of times more difficult
By comparison, a budget 2010 mobile phone like the ZTE Blade has a lot of graphical grunts. Paired with a Pentium II, the Voodoo 2 averaged about 60 frames per second at 800×600 resolution with normal rasterization. Today the RTX 2070 Super, a card that’s over 10,000 times faster (that wasn’t a typo), runs Quake II RTX at … well, roughly 60fps at 1080p.
Quake II is the only full ray-traced game available. But this is an amazing vision of the future
Quake II RTX includes a complete ray tracing implementation. While it looks amazing, this 1997 relic is actually slower than some of the harshest AAA games today, such as AC: Odyssey. This is why the developers chose hybrid solutions, as shown in Metro: Exodus. The alternative is too burdensome.
But let’s talk a little about Quake II RTX. It is currently the only fully ray-traced game. And that, in a word, is awesome. Ray tracing simulates the interaction of light in real life, and the results in Quake II are photorealistic at times. Even with blocky models and cramped environments, the lighting looks real, something that no other game has so far been able to reproduce. This is really something you should see for yourself.
3. Battlefield V
For a long time, Metro Exodus and Battlefield V were your only RTX options available in games. While Metro Exodus is using RTX to overhaul its global lighting system, Battlefield V is using it to radically improve reflections in the game.
Screen space reflections are limited by … well, screen space
Typically, developers use so-called “screen space” reflections in order to create sufficiently beautiful and efficient reflections in the game. But the problem is in the name itself. Screen space reflections can only display a reflection of what is currently in screen space, that is, what you are currently seeing.
This means that objects outside the camera will not receive reflections as they are not in screen space.
Ray-traced reflections create unique gaming experiences
The RTX implementation in Battlefield V allows ray-traced reflections to account for objects and effects outside of screen space. This can significantly affect the gameplay. For instance. the reflective surface of your pistol or scope will show objects that are currently behind you. In a multiplayer match, this will allow you to see someone trying to sneak up on you from behind.
This, of course, significantly reduces performance. The key to the RTX 2070 Super-class hardware is the inclusion of DLSS scaling. The initial implementation of DLSS in Battlefield V was terrible. It actually looked worse than just decreasing the resolution in the game. However, subsequent corrections have significantly improved image quality. With DLSS enabled, you should have decent quality at 1440p / 60 FPS with RTX enabled.
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4. Shadow of Tomb Raider
Ray tracing does not always have to entail drastic changes to the visual design of the game. A thin implementation focused on performance can be just as good at times. This is what we get in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Lara Croft’s latest adventure with RTX-based shadows.
Ray tracing solves a longstanding problem with game graphics: the quality of the shadow map. Shadows are expensive computations. The higher the shadow resolution (and the more precise the shadow), the better the performance. Lower resolution shadows suffer from noticeable pixelation. Ray tracing completely solves these problems.
Ray-traced shadows are a physically accurate step up from conventional shadow mapping.
Ray-traced shadows have virtually infinite resolution and capture details that are overlooked by conventional shadow maps. Ray-traced shadows also accurately convey the varying softness and hardness of shadows, depending on the relative distances to lights and objects casting shadows. Another important aspect is how RTX handles point lights. In normal shadow rendering, overall performance optimization is to turn off shadows cast from point lights in the environment. If all lights are casting shadows, areas with a lot of point lights â€” for example, indoors â€” will degrade performance in normal rendering.
Although performance is still degrading, the nature of ray tracing allows Shadow of the Tomb Raider to create shadows for allÂ point lights. This can have quite a dramatic effect on visuals, especially at night and indoors, where enabling RTX allows more lights to cast shadows.
The best (or at least the most important) we left for last. RTX in Minecraft is much more than just pretty lights and shadows. At Gamescom 2019, Microsoft and Nvidia announced a partnership to bring RTX ray tracing into Minecraft. They also shared a trailer on how the RTX effects looked in the game.
RTX in Minecraft is the economy of ray tracing
The Minecraft partnership is a huge deal, and not just because RTX looks good in Minecraft (which it does). It goes back to the point we already mentioned about Nvidia and the exclusive effects tricks. I’ve also used multiple generations of Nvidia cards in my system over the years, besides AMD cards.
Nvidia has a bad habit of creating exclusive features like Hairworks and PhysX and using them to promote their cards. Few developers actually implement them, and they are quickly tucked under the rug just in time for the next new thing (like Turfworks when it debuted in Ghost Recon: Wildlands ).
When RTX was introduced, it seemed like a little more than the same old trick. This makes some economic sense. Developers don’t implement features that few users will use unless they are sponsored to do so. It just doesn’t make financial sense. The Nvidia connection inevitably results in one or two games releasing useless features without much enthusiasm, and that’s about it.
What happens when you introduce an exclusive graphics mode to one of the most popular games in the world?
Minecraft is another matter entirely. It is one of the largest games in the world with a total player base of over 90 million users. Players in Minecraft are dedicated to their craft, and because the game is a sandbox, players can come back to it again and again.
Visual effects have always been Minecraft‘s weak point. The aesthetic is intentional, but honestly, there are PS1 games out there that look better. Of course, there are texture mods and shader packs like SEUSS that can significantly improve the visuals of Minecraft. But as a community effort, they don’t always fit the overall aesthetic of the game. An official RTX implementation would be overwhelming. For many players, Minecraft is either the main game or the only game they play on certain platforms.
The official Minecraft RTX implementation could drive RTX sales and help spread ray tracing.
If there is an official RTX implementation, it will be something that many users on different platforms potentially aspire to. We don’t know how many there are, but there will almost certainly be players who will buy the RTX only series for Minecraft. If this pushes RTX sales towards their current low-volume levels, developers may start to view ray tracing as more than just a gimmick. At such an early stage in the technology life cycle, wider adoption is critical to its continued success.
I look forward to testing the RTX 2070 Super in various ray tracing workloads as soon as the map is on my doorstep. While there are not many RTX games available right now, a promising number of well-known developers will release RTX-enabled games in the coming months. Ray tracing is still in its infancy. However, I’m starting to suspect that RTX maybe a little more than a standard Nvidia exclusive trick. Time will tell. But the future of ray tracing looks brighter (literally) than ever before.
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Best Ray Tracing Games on RTX 2070 Super
Best Ray Tracing Games on RTX 2070 Super
Best Ray Tracing Games on RTX 2070 Super