Ray tracing it's here to stay, at least for now. When NVIDIA announced that it was going to incorporate hardware acceleration in the RTX 20 series to work with said technology applied to games, it generated a stir, not only because it was considered one of the fundamental pillars to achieve photorealism in games, but also because considered as something “inaccessible”.
The demands of ray tracing in terms of raw power made its use in games impossible, as the cost of hardware required to achieve acceptable performance was ridiculously high. NVIDIA promised that, thanks to hybrid rendering, it was going to be possible to bring this technology to new generation games, and indeed it was, although in a partial and very limited way.
Ray tracing in games like Metro: Exodus, Battlefield V or Shadow of the Tomb Raider applies only to a specific item: global illumination in the first, reflections in the second and shadows in the third. Despite such a narrow focus, its impact on performance is enormous, so much so that NVIDIA had to shape DLSS technology to counteract frame loss per second without compromising graphics too much.
In the end it is curious to see that the best results with ray tracing have been achieved in Quake 2 RTX, a revision of the classic from the late nineties that uses ray tracing fully, that is, applied to lighting, shadows and reflections. The result is fantastic, but it is only viable because the game has a very basic rendering and geometric load.
Is it worth continuing to bet on ray tracing?
The impact of ray tracing on gaming performance can be so great that a title can run in 4K and maximum quality smoothly without ray tracing and down to 1080p and 30 FPS with ray tracing, It all depends on the implementation that is made and the optimization of the game itself.
For many it represents a step backwards, but what about you, do you think it is a setback or an advance? Sony, Microsoft and AMD have ended up giving in and they have opted for ray tracing, so we can assume that the use of such technology in the world of video games will grow over the next few years, it will not remain a fad, but this does not mean that it will be really viable.
I personally believe that ray tracing applied to games is still at a very early stage, and that the current hardware is still very green. Yes, playing with an RTX 2080 Super a Quake 2 RTX is impressive, ray tracing greatly improves the graphic quality, but you never forget that geometry is that of a game from the late nineties, and that still it is essential to adjust the dynamic resolution to avoid drops below 60 FPS.
With games of the current generation the opposite is true. The graphic improvement provided by ray tracing does not compensate for the enormous loss of performance it represents, but it provides a touch of spectacularity that, basically, makes us dreaming of the day when we will be able to “tame the ray”.
I think it is worth continuing to bet on ray tracing. It is a technology that can mark a huge evolution When we have hardware powerful enough to fully implement it in complex games, and we have to patiently walk the path that will lead us to that destination. Now it's your turn, the comments are yours.