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Why ray tracing remains the greatest edge PC gaming has over consoles

As powerful as this new generation of gaming consoles are, the reality is that they’ll still be limited in terms of what graphical features are available.

As evidenced by some recent revelations on how Far Cry 6 will compare on PC versus console, PC gamers can rest assured that their super-powerful graphics cards are still leagues ahead.

Two players ride horses in Far Cry 6.

Ubisoft’s 3D Team Lead Programmer Stephanie Brenham spoke with Wccftech about Far Cry 6 and what graphical features we can expect.

Brenham was asked whether the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series S/X will feature ray tracing or any AMD-specific technology such as FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR). Unfortunately, neither of those features will end up on newer-generation consoles despite their power. Ubisoft’s goal with the consoles was to ensure optimal performance while also trying to target 4K.

“On console, our objective has been to take advantage of new hardware capabilities, optimizing performance targeting 4K and achieving 60 [frames per second], for instance, all while ensuring new game features, like our dynamic weather system, are supported on all platforms,” Brenham said.

Ubisoft worked with AMD to implement FSR and ray tracing specifically for PC. This speaks to the gulf that continues to exist between the full capabilities of a high-end gaming PC versus the next-gen consoles. Both Microsoft and Sony, together with AMD, have made massive strides on what’s possible with AMD APUs. However, PCs will always wear the performance crown due to their ability to use discrete graphics cards.

Consoles are aimed squarely at the mainstream market and provide the best bang for the buck in the $400 to $500 range. It would be impossible to build a PC at that price range that offers similar performance. But meeting that price point will still mean compromises on console performance. Conversely, the limit to PC performance depends mainly on the budget of the user. The MSRP of the Nvidia RTX 3070 alone is the price of an entire gaming console, and it still offers more utility outside of gaming.

However, there is a silver lining for console owners. We’ve previously written about how Microsoft confirmed that the Xbox Series X will be getting AMD’s FSR technology, though there was no word as to when that would happen. That’s not too surprising considering the Series X contains a RDNA 2 GPU, though it’s unknown if the PS5 will also support FSR.

Ray tracing is also technically possible on next-gen hardware as evidenced by titles such as Spiderman: Miles Morales and Ratchet & Clank on PS5. The Xbox Series X, meanwhile, can also do ray tracing on games like Control Ultimate Edition, Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition, and The Medium.

Ultimately, developers are going to optimize a game depending on the platform it’s on. PCs will be able to take advantage of advanced graphical options and multiple methods of input. Consoles will benefit from the tight integration of hardware and software to deliver a more streamlined experience.

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