When Cyberpunk 2077 debuted in 2020, the gaming world was at a far different stage than what this generation of players can encounter today. At that time, the idea of using AI to increase a game’s performance was slowly picking up speed, and ray tracing, the technology that powers realistic lighting by simulating the physical behavior of light, was more of a curiosity than a realistic alternative to the classic methods of lighting up a game. It’s incredible how much has changed in just three short years.
As a massive, open-world RPG, from the very beginning, Cyberpunk 2077 was a fantastic showcase of how much a game can change thanks to ray tracing. Night City’s moody, neon-soaked streets are a true feast for the eyes, and details like puddles with highly realistic reflections add an entirely new dimension to exploring its every corner. Regardless of the time of day or the weather conditions, ray tracing has transformed the face of the dark future. Shadows cast by objects became sharper and more realistic, while reflections on glass, metal, water, and more accurately bounced light. In short, immersion reached a previously impossible level — but certainly not the highest it can go.
GOING INTO OVERDRIVE
Another technological milestone is path tracing — an advanced form of ray tracing previously only used in film and animation due to the intensive computing power necessary to make use of it. Path tracing allowed us to avoid many simplifications required in the previous technology, which involved collecting isolated and fragmented information about light, shadows, reflections, or ambient occlusion. In contrast, path tracing collects a full suite of information about the world in a unified way — as a result, it guarantees accuracy in every lighting situation and creates a very realistic and beautiful image. Using this technology allowed us to abandon mixed techniques combining traditional rendering with ray tracing and rely entirely on a unified and more coherent solution.
Thanks to CD PROJEKT RED’s collaboration with NVIDIA, using path tracing on Night City’s streets became possible thanks to artificial intelligence, which assists developers in the process of illuminating the world. Now, lighting in the game can faithfully reflect the real behavior of rays relative to every surface and element of the city, including the characters living in it. In Ray Tracing: Overdrive Mode, which is based on path tracing, reflections become even more precise, micro-shadows fill the gaps present in standard ray tracing, dark tunnels and steam emanating from pipes are illuminated by nearby lights with a riot of colors — Night City comes to life like never before. Previously, this technology was only available in preview mode, but now, with the release of Cyberpunk 2077: Ultimate Edition and Update 2.1, Ray Tracing: Overdrive has come close to fulfilling its potential and is now available without “preview” status.
A HIGH-PERFORMANCE SANDEVISTAN
But the question remains: how can a game handle something as resource-intensive as path tracing? AI comes to the rescue with DLSS 3.5 (Deep Learning Super Sampling), a technology that, depending on the accompanying series of NVIDIA GeForce RTX GPUs, can almost quadruple the number of frames in Cyberpunk 2077. And thanks to DLSS Ray Reconstruction introduced in DLSS 3.5, the effects of ray tracing and path tracing have become even better, more precise, and sharper — no more blurring in dynamic shots with moving light sources, even in reflections, and beyond!
What’s more, thanks to NVIDIA GeForce NOW, you can enjoy Cyberpunk 2077: Ultimate Edition, containing the base game, its spy-thriller expansion, and the game-changing Update 2.0 all without owning the latest graphics card. All you need is a desktop, laptop, Mac, TV, or any supported device, an Internet connection, and a subscription to GeForce NOW — cloud gaming makes it possible to transform almost anything into a super-powered PC gaming rig and dive into Night City!
WIN A GRAPHICS CARD OF THE DARK FUTURE
Cyberpunk 2077 was among the first games to show off the potential of ray tracing, and the very first, big-budget, AAA game to introduce path tracing. Today, there are over 500 games and apps making use of RTX technologies. Thanks to our friends at NVIDIA, we’ll be celebrating this milestone with a new contest — the winner receives a powerful and one-of-a-kind Cyberpunk 2077: Ultimate Edition-themed GeForce RTX 4090 graphics card!
The contest runs from today until December 10th. To enter, all you have to do is comment on the contest post on X with your idea for the name of a gig in which V must recover an NVIDIA RTX GPU. Piece of cake! We will announce the winner by December 15th, and we can’t wait to see the creative ideas everyone will come up with. Good luck!