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Cyberpunk 2077: Does Ray Tracing Make A Difference?



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Cyberpunk 2077 is not only by far the most anticipated title of the year as a game, but also in terms of technology – especially because of ray tracing.

We have therefore already taken a closer look at the implementation of real-time ray tracing. How well does it look, is it even noticeable? And what about DLSS?

An important note in advance: We do not make any statements about performance at this point, as we only looked at the preliminary version of Cyberpunk 2077, which is not yet final in terms of performance. A separate technology test for the release version and a separate test for performance under ray tracing and DLSS with benchmarks will follow soon.

Our test system:

  • GPU: Nvidia Geforce RTX 3090
  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 5900X
  • RAM: 32.0 GB DDR4
  • Storage: 2.0 TByte SSD
  • System: Windows 10

Ray tracing reflections

One of the most noticeable effects of the ray-tracing repertoire is reflections. Cyberpunk 2077 is no exception, as the following images show:

In the puddle in the left picture, you can see a detailed reflection in which the lanterns hanging over the street are captured. In the right picture with Screen Space Reflections on Ultra, on the other hand, only rough color samples can be seen.

Ray tracing diffuse lighting

Raytracing Diffuse Illumination is less obvious.

In the left picture, the neon sign (the two figures next to the door) casts diffuse light onto the wall behind it, while in the right picture nothing of it can be seen.

Ray tracing shadows

Depending on the scene, the ray-tracing shadows are not always as clearly distinguishable from the regular variant as the reflections, as you can see in the following pictures:

In the left picture, near the small windows behind the garbage can, the shadows of the protruding wall are more diffuse than in the picture on the right. The garbage bags in the container appear darker on the left and thus more realistically shaded than on the right.

Overall impression and DLSS

Viewed in isolation, some of the effects are not quite as great as one might expect from the big concept of ray tracing. But if you look at the overall picture, everything looks more realistic:

The red neon sign in the two images blends diffusely with the surroundings in the left image. The deeper you look into the scene, the lower the impression of sharpness and shadows appear softer. In the right image, on the other hand, the impression of sharpness remains clearer, shadows and colors are still strongly saturated even from a distance.

DLSS in Cyberpunk: We also got a first impression of the implementation of Nvidia’s AI up scaler DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling).

The impression of sharpness in depth increases again through both DLSS modes and is therefore somewhat closer to the original image without ray tracing. Overall, DLSS delivers very good image quality, although the performance mode, as expected, drops slightly with a somewhat coarser image.

I enjoy playing games, and gaming is a passion of mine. Among my favorite games are Tears of the Kingdom, GTA, and Cyberpunk.

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