With a Nvidia RTX 30 series or 20 series graphics card, you can take advantage of RTX ray tracing. Only certain games support the feature, however, so we rounded up all of the current and upcoming titles that support RTX ray tracing so you can show off your graphics card.
Instead of using lighting and shadow maps, ray tracing tasks the GPU with tracing each individual ray of light. This creates more accurate reflections and shadows, as each photon interacts with the environment just like real light would. With the release of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, as well as more powerful PC hardware, the number of games that support ray tracing continues to grow.
It’s splitting in some areas as well. AMD now supports ray tracing with its 6000-series cards. Games like Godfall — which supports ray tracing on AMD cards but not Nvidia ones — suggest that there may be manufacturer-specific ray tracing features in the future. Some games support ray tracing on consoles and not PC as well, like NBA 2K21.
There are some RTX games that don’t support ray tracing, too, which we didn’t include. Games like Outriders, Call of Duty: Warzone, and Edge of Eternity include Nvidia’s deep learning super sampling (DLSS) but not ray-traced lighting.
Considered as the spiritual successor to Heretic and Hexen from the 90s, Amid Evil throws players into a retro-yet-modern dark fantasy world as a former heretic only known as the Champion. His mission: To cleanse the sacred lands using a holy battle-ax and other magical weapons. New Blood Interactive added ray tracing support as a beta in December, however, the developer is still asking for feedback and performance information given this feature is an ongoing implementation.
Neon Giant’s top-down cyberpunk shoot ’em up launched with RTX ray tracing. The Ascent throws you into the futuristic dystopian world of Veles, which is controlled by The Ascent Group megacorporation. After the group mysteriously collapses, Veles is sent into a frenzy, and your job is to uncover the mystery behind the collapse while fighting off rival factions.
Arguably the most established series to adopt the new ray tracing technology, Battlefield V was showcased right alongside Nvidia’s new cards at Gamescom in 2018 with reflections of explosions in everything from car doors to eyeballs. It arrived on October 11, 2018, and has since been repeatedly used as the de facto demo of ray tracing. We tested the game’s ray tracing capabilities and found it to be effective, but a bit of a performance hog, even with further optimizations.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War
The direct sequel to Black Ops, Cold War’s campaign focuses on CIA officer Russel Adler during the standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union in the early 1980s. He leads a SAD/SOG team in search of a Soviet spy named Perseus.
Players assume the role of Bell and travel to various locations across the globe, including East Berlin, Moscow, Vietnam, Turkey, and more. The multiplayer component includes a new version of Warzone and a 40-player Fireteam mode.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
The next iteration of the intensely popular Call of Duty franchise is the first of the series to feature real-time ray tracing. Following in the footsteps of its fast-paced shooter counterpart, Battlefield V, CoD: MW brings real-time lighting for shadows, producing a more realistic and believable game world. It launched to rave reviews on October 25, 2019.
Control would be a striking game with or without ray tracing, but its lighting and reflections look hauntingly otherworldly. The third-person action-adventure title has many PC-only graphical improvements as well.
Control was previously used as a showcase for a number of ray tracing’s pretty lighting effects in the lead up to its release, and now it’s proving popular with reviewers and gamers alike. Not just for its pretty lighting, but it certainly helps.
Developed by CD Projekt, Cyberpunk 2077 is an open-world, action-adventure game set in a megalopolis called Night City. The city is a world in itself, full of crime, power-hungry corporate leaders, and “modified” humans. As the mercenary outlaw named simply V, players must rely on implants, upgradable weapons, and hacking skills to find a rare implant that will grant immortality. The story changes based on the player’s actions and dialog choices.
Deliver Us the Moon
Deliver Us the Moon is a sci-fi thriller where players make their way around space stations and moon outposts in an attempt to save mankind from a dying Earth. It only employs a light dusting of ray-traced effects to shadows and reflections, but it isn’t particularly taxing on the hardware. It could be a great starting point for those just getting to grips with the beautifying effects of ray tracing, or for those with older GTX graphics cards.
Doom Eternal is the latest entry in the rebooted Doom franchise and includes many improvements and enhancements over the 2016 installment, along with a new hub-based campaign (and Mario-style platforming). The game is available now, but ray tracing arrived several months after the game launched.
Now, it’s available with ray tracing paired with DLSS, so you get to render those sleek reflections without hitting your frame rate too hard — if you have a Nvidia graphics card, that is.
Probably one of the most underwhelming ray tracing implementations, Dirt 5 technically supports ray traced shadows. You’d be hard-pressed to notice them, though. The reflections and shadows in the game are already great, so ray tracing does little to bolster the look. Still, it’s available if you feel like stressing your GPU a bit.
Fortnite doesn’t need an introduction. It’s one of the most-played games on the planet. However, Epic’s free-to-play shooter received an update in September 2020 adding ray tracing, Nvidia DLSS, Nvidia Reflex, and a custom RTX map. Nvidia provides slider examples in a separate article, showing the difference ray tracing makes in reflections, illumination, and so on. The game still doesn’t look realistic — it’s not meant to — but now that fun, cartoony world is all the prettier and more immersive. It’s like shooting friends in a CGI movie!
After a global calamity called the Burst, the remnants of humanity reside in Dharma Tower, a giant skyscraper structure now ravaged by “violence, poverty, and chaos.” Players assume the role of Jack the Ghostrunner, a reawakened supersoldier. He is assigned to ascend the superstructure to defeat the Keymaster and liberate the Architect, who once peacefully ruled the Dharma Tower.
This first-person slasher was co-produced by 3D Realms, the studio responsible for Duke Nukem.
Justice Online is China-based NetEase’s attempt at a WoW-killer with a martial arts flair. It might not get the most traction in the West, but the already pretty game should look even better with a dose of ray-traced lighting. You can download a demo of what its ray tracing support looks like from Nvidia’s website.
JX3 is an HD remake of the original JX3 from 2009. It’s another martial-arts-themed MMO straight out of China, and though it’s unlikely to generate a huge player base here in the West, it’s still one of the first to adopt the new ray tracing technology.
Lego Builder’s Journey
Lego Builder’s Journey is a Lego game unlike any you’ve seen before. It’s a series of small, somber puzzles that tells a heartfelt story with the iconic bricks, not with text. The inclusion of RTX ray tracing and DLSS only enhances the experience, showing the rough texture of Lego bricks that have been used one too many times and accurate lighting that bounces around the whole scene.
It’s a simple puzzle game that’s a joy to play. However, the jaw-dropping visuals are what will keep you hooked.
Mechwarrior 5: Mercenaries
The next entry in the iconic Mechwarrior series, Mechwarrior 5: Mercenaries, features plenty of raw and scraped metal for ray-traced lighting to cast realistic reflections, making it a great example of the technology’s early implementation. The game arrived on December 10, 2019, but didn’t enable ray tracing until Patch #04 released in early April. Ray tracing is currently in beta, according to the patch notes.
Although The Medium can feel a little disjointed at points, there’s no denying that it’s an excellent horror game. And that it looks incredible, especially with ray tracing on. You play as Marianne, a medium who travels to the Niwa Hotel to uncover secrets that require reaching into the spirit world. Moving and interacting with two worlds at once can be taxing on your PC though, so you’ll want a powerful GPU for this one.
Metro Exodus (and The Two Colonels DLC)
The Metro series has always been at the forefront of new graphical technology, and Exodus is no different. Released in mid-February 2019, it delivered some of the most expansive ray tracing support of any game yet. We weren’t exactly thrilled with how it was implemented, however, with some scenes turning from beautifully, hand-lit locations with traditional baked lighting to dark messes where you couldn’t see anything.
Enabling DLSS fixed some of the performance issues we ran into but in turn made the game blurry. An argument could be made that Metro Exodus looks better without enabling DLSS and ray tracing. However, the new Enhanced Edition looks excellent, which uses ray tracing to render all of the lighting.
Everyone and their dog knows and has likely played Minecraft. It’s been available for more than a decade and is still one of the world’s most popular games.
But its lo-fi graphics now have the option of a major overhaul in the form of ray-traced lighting. The Minecraft RTX Beta is available now for Windows 10. Simply install the Xbox Insider Hub app on your PC and join the Minecraft for Windows 10 beta program.
Moonlight Blade hit the MMORPG scene in 2015. Based on the Northern Song Dynasty of ancient China, it’s a fantasy martial arts free-to-play MMORPG inspired by fiction written by Gu Long. The game now includes ray-traced global illumination and ambient occlusion effects. It’s a huge hit in China but there’s currently no North American launch in sight after missing its initial 2019 English debut.
Developed by Cold Symmetry, Mortal Shell is an action role-playing game that heavily focuses on sword combat. Players assume the role of The Foundling who’s desperate to ascend from limbo. His defeated opponents become vehicles, mortal shells, as the title implies, that the player can possess. The longer players remain in a specific class (aka mortal shell), the more abilities they can unlock. Support for ray-traced shadows arrived in November 2020.
Observer: System Redux
Observer: System Redux is the definitive version of Bloober Team’s 2017 psychological horror game Observer. Although the content is the same, System Redux is mostly a different game, with visuals rebuilt from the ground up, ray tracing support, and better optimization. The game is set in 2084 where you play as an Observer, a corporate tool used to hack into people’s minds and expose their darkest secrets.
Pumpkin Jack is a 3D platformer mixed with action combat set in the Boredom Kingdom, a mythical realm reminiscent of Capcom’s popular Ghouls ‘n Ghost franchise. As Jack the Mythical Pumpkin Lord, players must solve puzzles and use their slashing and dodging skills to traverse across each Halloween-themed environment. Brought into the realm by Lucifer, Jack is tasked to rid the world of good by defeating a wizard who is protecting the humans. This game supports ray-traced lighting and DLSS.
Quake II RTX
The classic shooter is back with a whole new look. RTX ray tracing turns the 22-year-old Quake II into an entirely new game with gorgeous lighting effects, deep and visually impactful shadows, and all the classic highs of the original iconic FPS. Quake II RTX also adds new textures on top of changes and improvements made in Q2VKPT and Q2Pro iterations of the game, creating the definitive Quake II experience for modern times.
Ring of Elysium
Now available, Ring of Elysium is a free-to-play 60-player battle-royale-style game. Each session focuses on a disaster you must survive while also battling to retain one of four seats in the end-game’s rescue flight. Although the developer added real-time dynamic global illumination in March, ray-tracing support only debuted on October 22.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Showcased on stage during the original Nvidia 20-series unveiling, Shadow of the Tomb Raider might have run into a few frame rate issues on the show floor, but it proved a great example of just how pretty ray-traced lighting can be. Ray tracing didn’t appear in the game until the March 2019 patch.
Stay in the Light
Stay in the Light is a first-person horror game that uses ray tracing as a mechanic. The dark, randomly generated dungeons are a playground for ray-traced lighting and shadows, with the two being at the very core of how the game plays. The game was released in 2020 on Steam to mixed reviews, though it remains an excellent showcase of ray tracing. It’s also entirely free, making it one of the best ways to test out your GPU’s ray tracing abilities.
Watch Dogs: Legion
The next game in the open-world, hacking-sim series, Watch Dogs: Legion brings many innovations to the franchise, but one of the more notable visual enhancements is ray tracing. The detailed cityscape players inhabit benefits from ray-traced reflections, making puddles and polished surfaces look far more real.
The 1980s meets the Wolfenstein franchise in dramatic fashion with Wolfenstein: Youngblood. High-speed shooter action with brand new lighting effects! The new crop of Wolfenstein games have all been pretty, but Youngblood takes things to a whole new level. Youngblood was one of the games in Nvidia’s RTX showcase at E3 2019 but sadly, the game launched without ray tracing. Instead, the upgrade arrived in January.
World of Warcraft: Shadowlands
Blizzard’s World of Warcraft: Shadowlands expansion, supports ray tracing, as discovered in the alpha. The expansion adds the realm of the dead, the Shadowlands, adding four leveling zones — Ardenweald, Bastion, Maldraxxus, and Revendreth — and an endgame zone called the Maw. The expansion also reduces the level cap to 60. All current characters above level 60 will be reduced to level 50.
Xuan-Yuan Sword VII
This third-person action RPG puts gamers in the role of protagonist Taishi Zhao, a “calm and reliable” swordsman. The story takes place during the last of the Western Han Dynasty and attempts to recreate the culture, environments, props, and more from ancient Chinese history. Weapons include the Elysium Scroll, which can absorb monsters and create items.
Atomic Heart is described as an “alt universe” shooter set at the height of the Soviet Union but with a rather different interpretation of how the world might have turned out. While its universe may seem strange and hard to pin down, its graphics technology won’t be. It’s beautiful, and ray tracing will only enhance that.
Currently, Atomic Heart does not have a set release window. However, while we wait, there is a tech-demo you can sample if you want to get a taste. Download it from developer Mundfish here.
Developed by Chinese indie team Surgical Scalpels, Boundary is an upcoming zero-gravity tactical first-person shooter set in a “simulative, low-orbit environment.” While you’ll have full freedom of movement in space, those movements aren’t restricted by gravity, leading to interesting shoot-em-up gameplay. Players assume the role of Lucas, an Astroperator.
As the video above demonstrates, ray tracing gives the space station a more “solid” feel while adding accurate reflections to the solar panels. The game was originally set to launch in 2020, though is now expected in 2021.
Bright Memory: Infinite
FYQD-Studio originally set out to deliver Bright Memory in an episodic format, but instead gained enough funding to remaster Episode 1 and create a full game. Episode 1, released from Early Access in March, already included ray-traced reflections and DLSS, but will not receive further development. Everyone who bought Episode 1 will receive a 100% off discount coupon toward Infinite.
Set in 2036, Bright Memory: Infinite fuses first-person shooting with Devil May Cry-like action. The Science Research Organization (SRO) sends out agent Shelia to stop a military organization from resurrecting the dead. Infinite is slated to arrive sometime during 2021.
Created by indie developer Long Force, Convallaria is an open-world third-person online shooter arriving on the PC in 2020. The game will support 100+ players and include both PvP and PvE content. According to Nvidia, it’s a “fast-paced battle royale game” packed with colorful fantasy scenes and dungeons to explore, though gameplay videos depict team-based PvE action.
Dying Light 2
The original cooperative zombie slaying, parkour shooter, Dying Light, was a monstrous success. The sequel is likely to be the same and will include many visual enhancements, one of which is real-time ray-traced shadows. Details about its implementation are quite thin, but we’ll learn more as we head towards the game’s currently unknown release date.
F.I.S.T.: Forged in Shadow Torch
Hop into this upcoming game from developer TiGames set in an original diesel-punk metropolis inspired by 1920s China. Players assume the role of a rabbit packing a giant mechanical fist, among other cool weapons. It’s a Metroidvania game at heart packing lots of side-scrolling action, upgradeable skills, and an interconnected world. It’s complemented by incredible graphics thanks to the Unreal Engine and ray tracing technology. The game is expected to arrive in April 2021.
Five Nights at Freddy’s: Security Breach
Five Nights at Freddy’s turned into a YouTube and Twitch sensation when it launched in 2014, spawning massive fan communities and multiple sequels. Five Nights at Freddy’s: Security Breach finally updates the visuals of the tried-and-true horror formula, and it’s launching with ray tracing and DLSS. The game is scheduled to release in 2021, but a firm release date hasn’t been given yet.
Developed by AstroNaughty Games, Grimmstar is an upcoming space fighter simulator with fleet management and action RPG elements. Players can freely explore a string of solar systems, mine, salvage for resources, build and command a fleet, and more. Something from beyond the galaxy approaches, threatening to extinguish mankind.
According to the developer, the vast solar systems and their massive planets require RT cores to generate the lighting effects, as pre-computing lightmaps resulted in 7GB of data and higher. The RT cores render believable shadows drawn in real-time. Next-generation cards should do an even better job.
Tripwire’s open-world shark sandbox, Maneater, is getting ray tracing support in 2021 on PC. The game already supports ray-traced lighting and a slew of next-gen enhancements on the PS5 and Xbox Series X, and Tripwire says those same enhancements will make their way to PC in 2021. Maneater is currently an Epic Games Store exclusive, released in May 2020. Assuming Epic’s standard one-year exclusivity contract is in place, it’s possible Tripwire is planning to release these enhancements alongside the Steam version, though nothing has been confirmed yet.
Nvidia briefly introduced this upcoming title during its GTC 2019 world tour in China. Slated for a mid-2021 launch, Project X will be an action shooter set on a spherical open-world planet. According to Nvidia, the game will feature interactive physics and anime-style rendering. Developer Mihoyo is known for anime games like Honkai Impact 3rd, Genshin Impact, and more.
Sword and Fairy 7
Developer Softstar Entertainment and Nvidia introduced the seventh installment of this popular series during Computex 2019. The two stated that the game will receive “immersive ray-traced effects,” but little has been said since. It follows the sixth installment released in 2015, Chinese Paladin: Sword and Fairy 6 (also known as The Legend of Sword and Fairy 6). While the overall story is unknown at this point, expect the traditional JRPG gameplay and dialog.
Synced: Off Planet
An intriguing 50-player, third-person, competitive shooter from Asian publishing powerhouse, Tencent, Synced: Off Planet will combine PvP and PvE gameplay in a beautifully rendered world. Ray tracing will allow for detailed, real-time reflections and shadows, providing some gorgeous visual effects, but also some competitive advantage, letting players see around corners or behind themselves using the reflections.
Vampire: The Masquerade — Bloodlines 2
With a planned release sometime in 2021, Bloodlines 2 is a long-awaited sequel of the hit 2004 vampire action title Vampire: The Masquerade — Bloodlines. The new game will feature high-speed chases, fast-paced melee combat, a selection of intriguing characters who have their webs of deceit, and plots that will unravel as the story progresses. Early visuals of the game are impressive, with ray tracing providing an additional layer of realism to the gritty world of underground vampiric wars.
The Witcher 3: Complete Edition
Despite nearing six years old, CD Projekt Red is adding ray tracing support to its next-gen version of The Witcher 3. Along with ray tracing and faster loading times, the upgraded version will also feature both expansions for the game, as well as all post-launch content. PC, Xbox One, and PS4 owners will get the upgrade for free. CD Projekt Red will also release a stand-alone version for PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X, though it has yet to announce a launch date.
- The best horror movies on Netflix right now
- The Game Awards 2021: How to watch and what to expect
- The best all-in-one computers for 2021
- Asus ZenBook 14X OLED review: A showstopping display
- 40 best tech gifts for all tech lovers, at all budgets for 2021