Nvidia’s GeForce RTX graphics cards may be mighty powerful in their own right, but they are squarely aimed at delivering a feature long desired by developers and gamers alike: Real-time ray tracing. The lighting technique is the closest approximation we have for modeling the way light behaves in the real world, and it looks beautiful on both RTX cards and most recently, GTX cards too.
But which games support ray tracing? Right now, only 13. Even though graphics cards are sold in desktops and laptops alike, and Nvidia enabled ray tracing on GTX graphics cards without dedicated RT cores, the currently-announced list of existing and upcoming games is surprisingly short — even in 2020.
Here are all the current and upcoming games that support Nvidia’s RTX-driven ray tracing technology.
Games with ray tracing
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 axe 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.
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: 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Gamers can now also enjoy the new Two Colonels DLC, with all of the same ray tracing effects as the base game.
Everyone and their dog knows and has likely played
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
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.
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.
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.
Games that will have ray tracing in the future
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 is slated for a 2020 release.
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 towards 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.
As well as questioning just what makes us human, Cyberpunk 2077 has the potential to be one of the best-looking games ever made and ray-traced lighting will aid it in that effort.
“Ray tracing allows us to realistically portray how light behaves in a crowded urban environment,” said Adam Badowski, Head of Studio, CD Projekt Red. “Thanks to this technology, we can add another layer of depth and verticality to the already impressive megacity the game takes place in.”
Cyberpunk 2077 is slated for release on PC, PS4, and Xbox One on November 19, 2020.
Developer id Software pledged to make its implementation a priority, but as of July 2020, the upgrade still hasn’t appeared.
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 rough 2020 release date.
Enlisted is a World War II squad shooter MMO that looks to recreate some of the most expansive battles of the war. You may not have time to take in all of the pretty ray tracing effects, however. The first open playtest took place on April 1. 2020. The developer has yet to announce a set launch 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 should arrive sometime in 2020.
Not much is known about ProjectDH other than its remained in development at Nexon over the last several years. Early test footage suggests it’s a little like a horseback Monster Hunter with ranged weaponry, but at this stage, it’s anyone’s guess. How it will implement ray tracing is equally nebulous.
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.
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, they still plan to adopt ray tracing technology to “improve the efficiency and quality” even further.
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 2020, 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, and 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.
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.
After further delays, Legion is now expected to arrive on October 29, 2020.
World of Warcraft: Shadowlands
Blizzard’s upcoming expansion for
Xuan-Yuan Sword VII
Arriving in 2020, 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.
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