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!