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Rise of the Tomb Raider for PC makes the leap to DirectX 12 in surprise post-launch upgrade

For those of you playing Rise of the Tomb Raider a couple of months late on PC, the wait may have actually paid off, as Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix have added some nifty features to an already great game. More specifically, DirectX 12 has been added in addition to VXAO, an anticipated Nvidia GameWorks feature that had previously been unannounced.

With DirectX 12 support added to the mix, you may even be tempted to return to the game just to see if performance is enhanced on your Nvidia or AMD-powered rig.

VXAO, on the other hand, which stands for Voxel Ambient Occlusion, is what Nvidia calls “the highest quality Ambient Occlusion solution available in PC games today.”

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Similar to Screen-space Ambient Occlusion, which was notoriously designed by Crytek for the hardware intensive Crysis nearly nine years ago, Nvidia’s technology claims to add the illusion of visual depth to a catalog of games, according to Forbes. It does so using a world-space Ambient Occlusion algorithm, which Nvidia says brings better image quality, a more seamless reaction to camera motion, more detailed appearances, and improved accuracy when compared to the alternatives.

VXAO is accomplished by voxelizing the scene, Nvidia says.

“It’s complex, computationally heavy and makes intensive use of Maxwell’s unique geometry shader capabilities,” the graphics company penned in an email.

VXAO is expected to inhabit a number of games, though it’s not clear yet just which ones are being considered.

You can try out the new Rise of the Tomb Raider patch for yourself by downloading it on Steam right now. Otherwise, it’s “coming soon” to the Windows Store.

In our review of Rise of the Tomb Raider, published last year, we called it “a popcorn flick of a game” with “an abundance of spectacle that’s elevated by a cast of characters with a lot of humanity” as well as “the best blockbuster game of 2015.” To see if you can run it, refer to the PC requirements we reported on back in January.