Metro: Exodus
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Microsoft has finally begun rolling out the Windows 10 October 2018 update. Operating system updates aren’t usually very exciting, even at the best of the times, but this one has managed to get our pulses racing. The Windows 10 October update finally patches in DirectX Raytracing support, opening up the full capabilities of the newly launched GeForce RTX 20 Series graphics cards.

If you have a GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, GeForce RTX 2080, or GeForce RTX 2070, all you’ll need is the latest GeForce GPU driver and this October 2018 Windows Update, and then you’re good to go. The one catch, of course, is the total lack of software which supports raytracing, for now, at least.

The rollout for DirectX Raytracing support sounds as if it’ll be slow and steady. Microsoft has confirmed the first three games to support raytracing will be Shadow of the Tomb Raider (via a post-launch patch), Battlefield V, and Metro Exodus. Now, Metro Exodus is out on February 22nd, 2019, so that means just three games will support raytracing with 5-6 months of the GeForce RTX 20 Series launch. If we’re honest, that’s far slower uptake than we were expecting, so if your primary reason for an upgrade is the raytracing feature, it may pay to take a wait and see approach.

From the sounds of things, true raytracing is going to be prohibitively expensive, even on top-end, $1200 graphics cards. Each game will have various raytracing settings dialed on and off in order to strike a balance between visuals and performance. Shadow of the Tomb Raider’s DirectX Raytracing ability will be used to render realistic shadows, Metro Exodus will utilise raytracing for global illumination and ambient occlusion, while Battlefield V will primarily use raytraced reflections.

“We’ve worked for many years to make Windows the best platform for PC Gaming and believe that DirectX Raytracing is a major leap forward for gamers on our platform,” wrote Microsoft. “We built DirectX Raytracing with ubiquity in mind: it’s an API that was built to work across hardware from all vendors.

“DirectX Raytracing allows games to achieve a level of realism unachievable by traditional rasterization. This is because raytracing excels in areas where traditional rasterization is lacking, such as reflections, shadows and ambient occlusion. We specifically designed our raytracing API to be used alongside rasterization-based game pipelines and for developers to be able to integrate DirectX Raytracing support into their existing engines, without the need to rebuild their game engines from the ground up.

“The difference that raytracing makes to a game is immediately apparent and this is something that the industry recognizes: DXR is one of the fastest adopted features that we’ve released in recent years.”

The update is rolling out in waves starting from today, so depending on your settings it should automatically update and install shortly.