Up For Debate - Is it too early for fully ray traced video games?

Written by Chad Norton on Sat, Feb 20, 2021 5:00 PM
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We all know that ray tracing looks great, regardless of whether it’s worth the premium cost at the moment. But it also depends on the implementation of it; some games have ray traced reflections, some have ray traced shadows, some have ray traced global illumination, and some games have a combination of them. But is it too early for fully ray traced video games? Let’s debate!

There aren’t actually a whole lot of games that use a fully ray traced lighting system, in fact only 2 games spring to mind: Quake 2 RTX, and Minecraft RTX. Both have their atmosphere and graphics completely changed due to full ray tracing, and benefit from their rather simple graphics which allows for your shiny new graphics card to take advantage of the full power of ray tracing.

But now 4A Games have just announced Metro Exodus PC Enhanced Edition, which will be a fully ray traced upgrade to the base game. No official system specs have been revealed yet, but the minimum GPU will be a ray tracing-capable graphics card at least.

Games like Minecraft and Quake 2 are arguably more appropriate for a fully ray traced lighting system due to their simple graphics, and are much more suited as some sort of tech demo rather than a proper AAA title release. But Metro Exodus is a AAA title, and on top of the already great looking graphics, will be a power hungry beast for sure.

According to the majority of you guys, we’re expecting the minimum required GPU to be at least an RTX 2070 on the Nvidia side and an RX 6800 from AMD (since RX 6000 GPUs don’t perform as well as Nvidia in terms of pure ray tracing performance, and also don't have their own DLSS alternative yet). That’s a pretty hefty minimum requirement to say the least.

So, back to the main question: is it too early for fully ray traced video games? On the one hand you could say yes, it is too early because ray tracing has yet to be adopted into the mainstream as an industry standard. Only a few dozen games so far support ray tracing to a certain extent and not many gamers can actually even get their hands on a ray tracing-capable card due to extremely low stock.

On the other hand, you could say it’s not too early as games that adopt it this early will spur the industry to focus more on ray tracing, driving more sales for ray tracing-supported GPUs, and inspiring more game developers to implement the gorgeous new tech. 

It also doesn’t have to be an industry standard just yet to be fully traced, as those types of games can still be somewhat small tech demos or indie games for now (currently, Minecraft RTX and Quake 2 RTX don’t cost the full $50-$70 that a AAA game goes for at the moment, and the Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition will be a free upgrade to owners of the base game).

So what do you think? Is it too early for fully ray traced video games? Should there be more AAA games with fully ray traced lighting? Or should it be conserved for cheap tech demos or small indie games for now? Let’s debate!

Is it too early for fully ray traced video games?

Should full ray or path tracing be used in AAA games or indies or tech demos?

When do you think we'll see the first AAA priced fully ray traced game?

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17:06 Feb-23-2021

guys its new gen already ight
less than a year

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18:43 Feb-21-2021

I don't understand, if the consoles are capable for ray tracing now, then why after years? But here's the other question too, if they're not capable now, what'll make them more capable in the future(in terms of graphics performance). We're already seeing, not every game can support full ray tracing on both consoles, and we're starting to see these problems now. Just wanna point that out for everyone. Only 4 months have passed since the 9th gen launched.

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20:36 Feb-21-2021

Give it more than just one generation. Nothing was perfect on first generation. But it has to start somewhere, because otherwise you have chicken and egg problem. What comes first, raytracing in games or raytracing capable hardware. And we really are in early stages of raytracing hardware, where developers have very limited performance to work with and have to use it where it matters,...

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20:38 Feb-21-2021

... not everywhere. But next generation of consoles will get better at it. Also I think developers will get quite a bit more out of current generation too. Hardware is not only thing that has to get better. Developers also need to get better at using all performance and getting most out of it. Early generation games never look as good as end of generation games, when devs had a lot of practice.

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22:25 Feb-21-2021

I hope so, i heard 4A Games already having problem putting ray tracing on Xbox Series S for their Metro remaster games. If games become demanding to a point that we'll need a mid get upgrade, then we'll need it. We'll see what happens.

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03:16 Feb-22-2021

Though you got to admit, it is kind of funny situation, since MS was one who put raytracing as feature forward and Sony was one more or less silent on it and now Xbox has issues. :-D Though from what I heard,MS also didn't do as good on their software level,since DirectX is great on generalized devices like PC,but doesn't have as good console level optimization as PS5.Hopefully MS can improve it.

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18:04 Feb-21-2021

No get it here already so GPU manufacturers can start churning out better GPUs. As a matter of fact make it the norm for games to be fully ray-traced so the hardware can also be available on a budget as any hardware that wouldn't support fully ray-traced games wouldn't be considered gaming hardware.

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07:38 Feb-22-2021

I can Get Behind THis

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10:41 Feb-22-2021

Give it a bit. Eventually raytracing will become as present/accessible as, for example, SSAO.

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08:47 Feb-21-2021

Only too early because the hardware is not in stock for us to buy!

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00:42 Feb-21-2021

if u can give me a full ray traced DOOM 3 BFG game id sht my pants. no i mean id literally sht my pants that game is scary enough now...(im 35 :( )

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23:31 Feb-20-2021

Specially For AAA Games it is way too early, It needs more stabilization more improvement. AAA games have way too many objects, Shadows, Lightning ETC.

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22:27 Feb-20-2021

Yeah, definitely too early. As things are, I think right time will be when graphic cards will be able to do it at least with 1440p 60FPS on sub 500USD cards and 1080p 60FPS on sub 300USD cards both with 100% resolution scale. As is, it is mixed bag. nVidia relies on upscaling with DLSS, AMD just performs poorly because their upscaling is late.

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22:29 Feb-20-2021

But things will improve with generations and eventually as everything, it will get easy to run. I mean most of things that are very common and easy to run these days, used to be very hard and high end enthusiast thing at some point. But as said, it needs time. Personally, if I were to guess I would say at least 3 years. But we will see, we could get surprised sooner.

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22:32 Feb-20-2021

As for who should use it, any developer who thinks they can make it good and run well. So far, raytracing is just fancy graphic gimmick. Like it is funny how among games on PS5 that support raytracing, best looking one is Demon Souls remaster, which doesn't feature raytracing. But as everything, developers need time to learn and get good at getting best out of new technologies,raytracing included.

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22:34 Feb-20-2021

For now, they should just focus on limited use, use it where it counts in limited capacity, so it doesn't wreck performance as much. And not use it like tech demo to make everything shiny and all, things like mirror like blood just don't really make good case for it. Plus rasterization hacks when done properly look pretty good too.

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22:26 Feb-20-2021

The mind is willing but the GPU is fleshy...or something.

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00:00 Feb-21-2021

Good one

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19:08 Feb-20-2021

I think we are 2-3 gpu generations too early to consider fully tray traced games, however i would like more old games that would be ported for ray tracing. Its probably too much work but it would be great stopgap till we can consider fully ray traced AAA games.

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11:32 Feb-21-2021

Agreed, especially if you play games maxed out on 4k or ultrawide. Add raytracing and even a 3080 wouldn't cope. See how demanding AC games are and you have your answer, and no, no it's not unoptimized lol.

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17:47 Feb-20-2021

Taking into account the fact that there's some games out there not yet playable fully maxed out, 4k, and 60 fps. I'd say it's still too soon. Unless there's some plot twist coming.

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18:15 Feb-20-2021

That really should always be the case for almost everyone. The vast majority of whom have don't have the best hardware at any given time.
At last until 8k is normal which won't be for a long ass time.

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21:14 Feb-20-2021

8k could be standard in like 10 years or more, kinda wondering what comes next as 16k monitors and even TVs wont really take much advantage of that resolution.

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23:42 Feb-20-2021

You mean standard as the most used? i highly doubt it, 4k? yeah sure but 8k hmm dont think so.

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02:06 Feb-21-2021

I mean whats the point on going even further beyond 4k? Pixels are practically unnoticeable on a 4k 40 inch tv. I don't have one yet my bro does. I always had this feeling they only decided to come up with 4k because of vr gaming. I read the res needs to be 4k at least to fool the brain into believing it's real.

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06:48 Feb-21-2021

T hats why i said 10+ years.. .-.

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06:48 Feb-21-2021

They could get 4k high refresh rate monitors or tvs

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17:09 Feb-20-2021

Finally upgraded my rig.. from an i5 3570 and 1050 ti :)

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17:21 Feb-20-2021

Good buy how come you found an available gpu?

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18:51 Feb-20-2021

At least in europe rtx 3070 is easy to find but its grossly overpriced

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21:15 Feb-20-2021

Yeah there are gpus out there, but you must pay 2times and even 2.5 times the original MSRP

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09:55 Feb-21-2021

I got it for approx 600 USD which is expected given the 18% tax in my country(India). Non FE i.e. AIB ones start at around 820 USD

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09:53 Feb-21-2021

Im from India, got it via the nvidia official partner RP Tech.. was in the waiting list for 2 months approx

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20:41 Feb-20-2021

bye, partner :(. Im happy or you :)

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09:56 Feb-21-2021

Hey, when do u intend upgrading?

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10:03 Feb-21-2021

when i find myself my first job i might upg. Either this or next year. Yes, it would be better to have better PC, but right now with the games i'm playing this PC is fine. And i'm very curious myself with what CPU i will get either AMD or Intel...

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16:15 Feb-21-2021

Congrats man , me too I upgraded from i5 3470 and 1050 Ti , but I'm still looking for a GPU and so far no luck ):

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Core i5-10400F 6-Core 2.90GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Ti MSI Ventus 2X 8GB 16GB
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Core i7-10700F 8-Core 2.9GHz GeForce GTX 970 Gigabyte G1 Gaming 4GB Edition 16GB
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Core i5-11400F 6-Core 2.6GHz GeForce GTX 1650 Super 4GB 16GB
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Core i7-3770 4-Core 3.4GHz GeForce GTX 1650 Super 4GB 16GB
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