Is ray tracing a pointless gimmick or the next milestone in graphical advancement?

Ray tracing good

  • Yeah

    Votes: 215 68.0%
  • Nope

    Votes: 101 32.0%

  • Total voters
    316

Drizzlehell

Member
So in preparation for the upcoming Ragnarok, I decided to give God of War a second replay and having previously played it on base PS4, this time around I had a chance to play the beefed up version for the PS5. 4k resolution and 60 frames, baby.

(these are just random shots that I grabbed from the net as a reminder of how beautiful this game is. I didn't grab any myself because I was too distracted with general awesomeness of this game)

I was stunned at how gorgeous this game still looks. I don't think it would be too much of a hyperbole to say that the art direction and sheer graphical fidelity is simply jaw-dropping. Other games that come out today can only wish to look and run this good, and we're talking about a last gen game that came out four years ago. And the only thing that sets it apart from current-gen games? Well, instead of ray tracing it uses simple SSR and cube maps for its surface reflections and you know what? It still looks better than most games that come out today that support RT.

I don't even know what's the actual advantage of using this feature in current games, apart from surface reflections that look a bit more realistic than before. And yeah, I know that technically it's supposed to be this technique where GPU is computing per-pixel lighting and shading in real time, which produces much more realistic and natural light and reflections without requiring the artist to hand-paint shadow and lightmaps or whatever. But in reality, I don't know if there's even a single actual modern game that uses this technique for anything other than mirror surfaces because that's pretty much the only difference that you can spot when you turn it on.

But apart from that, all RT does is being a huge resource hog with little to show for it and I just hate all those console games that don't give you an option to turn it off so that you could enjoy 60 FPS gameplay with high resolution graphics. Because I can bet you my own slippers that if those games didn't bother with implementing RT, then most of them could easily run in those high fidelity modes without the console even breaking a sweat. Like with Gotham Knights - there's simply no excuse for a game that looks this average to not be able to run in 60 frames, and I bet it's mostly due to the inclusion of ray tracing (aside from the developer's general incompetence but whatevs).

I think that ray tracing is an interesting feature that could help to make games look better while reducing the workload for visual artists, but I think it's being pushed way too hard by hardware producers as this next big thing, while the actual tech is simply not there yet to support it efficiently. I would much rather see this processing power used for things that can look actually impressive, like more advanced physics or high-resolution, high-framerate performance.
 

Power Pro

Gold Member
I'm sure there will be people coming in here pointing out all these older games that look better with RT features turned on. I personally haven't played anything that used it that RT made a huge difference. Stuff like RT looks good in screenshots to sell a game, but when you're actively playing a game, you don't see that stuff, so as a player, they always feel pointless to me. That's why good games don't really need good graphics or the latest hardware. It's all about good game design, and good art direction. Both are hard to come by sometimes.
 

Elog

Member
It is something that most people do not understand:

1) Will it dramatically change how well designed scenes look in games? No. it will add some but nothing dramatic at all. The biggest positive is reflective materials compared to what is possible today.
2) Will it dramatically cut development times once the majority of cards can process global illumination? Hell yes - by a boat load.

It is 2) that will be the big one but that benefit will not come into play before the majority of cards can pull off global illumination with a decent frame rate - and we are still far from that.
 

GymWolf

Gold Member
I still have to play a game where rtx makes any sense if you consider the performance hit.

I take more detailed textures, effects, and better res and framerate over slightly more accurate lights and shadows that i only notice in a df comparison.

In old games is downright pointless and hilarious, you are not gonna make shitty graphic any more realistic, it still gonna look like old shit.
 
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AV

We ain't outta here in ten minutes, we won't need no rocket to fly through space
It's coolest in older games, which isn't a great thing. Modern games already have way too much going on in a scene to really take notice most of the time, it just looks like "more graphics". RTX in Minecraft and Quake, though? Dope. Even Portal looks great because those environments are so basic.
 
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Ellery

Member
It is not a gimmick, but people don't understand what it does and how it works.

It is another step in the very right direction and will lay the groundworks for graphical progress for decades to come.

However I agree that the current hardware (mostly consoles and lower end GPUs. the 4090 is fine) on 4K TVs with the implementation we have isn't really fully feasible to make RayTracing shine the way it could and it certainly won't be enough to even come close to match what PC GPUs are and will be capable of in the years to come.

Everybody is screaming for things like destructible environments and in general asking for things to be more interactive and fewer static objects. RayTracing is kinda like that in a visual way. It is rendering things outside of your screen and makes you see things that you otherwise wouldn't. Like a reflection of an enemy behind a corner firing his gun being reflected in the shiny car door on the other end of the corner you are looking at. You previously couldn't really do that.

Everybody should want this, because it is so much more than just a random reflection most casuals couldn't tell apart from screen space reflections. It makes games come alive. I tried it on and off in many games including Control and Metro Exodus and while the games look great no matter what the difference between RT on and off is night and day for me. When I turn it off the game looks bland and soulless.

It is the real deal and they will continue down that path. Anyone who has watched any of Nvidia's shows the last few years will know this.
 
I could see it being a game changer and a useful mechanic in competitive shooters. Being able to see reflections on glass or changes in light and shadows and things like that could give a slight advantage.

Other than that I’m not that fussed by it. I mean it looks quite good in some games and I really liked the reflections in Spider Man.
 

winjer

Gold Member
It's not a gimmick, but the hardware is lagging behind so much, that for most users it's a matter of sacrificing a lot of performance.
And with GPU prices so high, very few can afford one, that can even do RT with decent performance.
 

Filben

Member
Are game physics a pointless gimmick? Are shadows? 4k textures? Dynamic lighting?

It all depends on how you implement those things. If you do it to tick off some checkboxes, sure. If you incorporate these features into your game design it can be quite transformative.

Look what Half Life 2 did with its physics engine. Look at FEAR what it did with physics in terms on environmental interactions. Those are amazing examples.

If you look at Dying Light 2, ray tracing elevates the visuals and immersion tremendously.

RT in Cyberpunk on consoles? Not so much because ray-traced contact shadows have very specific usage and don't change the whole scene and also not in every given moment.
 
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Haggard

Banned
RT on this console gen is pretty much a gimmick. The necessary hardware simply isn`t there and even on PC we`re far from that niveau becoming mainstream. Games like CP2077, Metro Exodus EE, Control etc are a nice glimpse into the future, but it will take at least until next console gen until even those limited implementations can become a standard....

I think that ray tracing is an interesting feature that could help to make games look better while reducing the workload for visual artists, but I think it's being pushed way too hard by hardware producers as this next big thing,
Then you don`t know how CGI in general works.
It is not a question of "if" but "when". RT is the only way in CG to have realistic dynamic lighting and it`s been used in offline CGI for decades. Its current hardware limited role in real time CGI may be overhyped for marketing reasons, but its general importance can`t be overestimated. Full RT aka Pathtracing is the next big goal, there is no question about it.
 
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Stare-Bear

Member
Expensive marketing gimmick atm. You got the new Forza where it’s being heavily marketed that it has raytracing enabled during a race… great but why are the trees LOD popping in 10 meters ahead?!
 

Drizzlehell

Member
RT on this console gen is pretty much a gimmick. The necessary hardware power is still nowhere near mainstream, even on PC. Games like CP2077, Metro Exodus EE, Control etc are a nice glimpse into the future, but it will take at least until next console gene until even that can become a standard....


Then you don`t know how CGI in general works.
It is not a question of "if" but "when". RT is the only way in CG to have realistic dynamic lighting and it`s been used in offline CGI for decades. Its current hardware limited role in real time CGI may be overhyped for marketing reasons, but its general importance can`t be overestimated. Full RT aka Pathtracing is the next big goal, there is no question about it.
I never used the word "if"
 

Elios83

Member
It's a very important milestone but right now consoles are not powerful enough to allow the full implementation. In most of the cases we only have ray traced shadows or super pixelated ray traced reflections.
So far on consoles I've only been impressed by Insomniac games and Metro Exodus.
Also traditional techniques to emulate global illumination based on rasterization have become so good that ray tracing makes a clear difference only in specific circumstances.
I think that a better ray tracing support will be a key reason behind the eventual mid gen hardware Pro upgrades.
 
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RoboFu

One of the green rats
RT is not as big as going from 2d to 3d but as it progresses we will see a few a few areas where better gameplay mechanics spring up.

For example with RT reflections you could see an enemy or player hiding behind a wall from a puddle or reflective floor. You can’t do that with ssr.
 

GymWolf

Gold Member
It was a marketing buzzword from Nvidia to ruin frame rates - and they succeeded. I always turn that shit off on consoles because the trade off is never worth it. Maybe in 10 years it will bring something interesting.
Bitch don't lie, we know that you check the position of the nemies in the puddles when 34938449 projectiles are coming your way in returnal.

I did the same while web slinging at 300 km/h in spidey.
 

benno

Member
It's the holy grail of scene lighting in computer graphics. Every single lighting effect you see in a video game is attempting to simulate a small portion of what ray tracing does. It takes up some of your valuable frames? so what? So did AA and AF when they first released.

 
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RT is no different from the likes of Phong shading or Gouraud shading back in the day. Add so much to how a game looks, just takes time for the hardware to be able to run it.
Its so silly to call any graphical effect a gimmick, I got tired of that crap with people hitting out at Mode 7
 

mxbison

Member
It's nice but there are so many more important things to work on.

Phyics and destruction should be number one. All these huge, nice looking open worlds are completely static.
 
There was a time when it was too expensive to use SSDs on Consoles. And currently it is still too expensive to run Ray Tracing in games.

But there is a difference between "can't afford it" and "bad/gimmick".

We can't afford RT yet, that is all there is to it. Calling it a gimmick is quite metaphorically sour grapes. Something you say to have yourself to feel better about not having it.
 

tommib

Banned
The only game with a decent RT is Metro Exodus. On the others is just stupid reflections that u can't see in movement and tank performance.
Even in Metrod Exodus I don’t know what’s going on. I remember comparing and going like, ok, some light looks different, whatever. Resident Evil Remake from 2001 baked lighting still looks better than all this RTX marketing obsession.
 

Kenpachii

Member
I would prefer every single game to have RT it looks a lot better with a lot of games. Going back to old reflections for example is jarring as hell.

However its demanding and i can see if u do not have higher end PC hardware its seen as useless.
 

zcaa0g

Member
Ray tracing is a graphics game changer, but it is in its very infant stages as far as being utilized in games to its full capability and that is still limited even with the 4090.
 

thief183

Member
Raytracing might even open the way to more destructible environment cause prebaked lights fo example should be redrown while raytracing will "just work"
 

HoodWinked

Member

They used to use this to calculate for lighting, shading and reflections. The results were an approximation but it was fast and the results were good enough. However they no longer do this because hardware can do it better now.

Ray tracing is like doing it for real because the hardware can support it. At some point it may become trivial to do the RT
 

NeoIkaruGAF

Gold Member
The fuss devs and forums are making about it will probably bring to its implementation in actual gameplay in the future. People are too obsessed with it, so there’s bound to be someone who will use it for something more than eye candy.

Right now, though? Mostly smoke and mirrors and platform warring. Places like GAF can’t go a week without yet another big thread about RT.
 

Laptop1991

Member
I've only used it on Cyberpunk, dlss 2 was impressive for me, really upped the fps at no image cost as for the RT itself yeah it looks better, a lot! it's not a gimmick imo, but games need to support it more, Phys X came and went and 3d etc, they never adopted them enough.
 
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