PlayStation 5 First Wave of Games Shows Developers Experimenting With Ray Tracing Features, Analysis Suggests


Last week's look at the first PlayStation 5 games was impressive, and it has shown that developers are experimenting with ray tracing features, according to a new analysis.

Digital Foundry released today a brand new video that takes an in-depth look at the next-gen games that have been shown last week during the Future of Gaming digital event, breaking down the ray tracing features and highlighting how they are being used to achieve improved visual quality without sacrificing performance and resolution.

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The most impressive PlayStation 5 game shown last week, in regards to ray tracing, is Capcom's Pragmata, which uses two types of ray tracing - ray traced reflections and a form of ray traced global illumination.

The second ray tracing effect in this trailer is even more interesting and takes the form of some form of ray traced global illumination, with some subtle but remarkable effects as light bounces around the scene. As the astronaut character walks in front of a yellow taxi, bounced light from the vehicle is seen on the astronaut's suit. As it lifts its hand, you can even see an indirect shadow in the bounced light from their arm across the chest - it's a remarkable level of fidelity. There are some artefacts though: if you watch the footage, you will notice how this indirect lighting on characters is especially grainy, as if the light is made up of tiny stippled points. This is generally how real-time ray tracing looks when it is not aggressively denoised. Certainly, on early footage, I don't mind seeing artefacts and lower levels of precision - it just adds to the authenticity.

At the end of the day, the PlayStation 5 showcase was definitely a good one, as it showed how developers aren't just going to use the more powerful GPU just for improved performance and resolution, as the footage shows how they are experimenting with ray tracing effects.

From my perspective, the good news is that the PS5 software showcase demonstrated that game-makers aren't ignoring the new hardware and banking the more obvious performance wins from a more powerful GPU - they're experimenting with RT features in the here and now, and it looks like we may see some of the fruits of their labour at launch.

The PlayStation 5 console launches later this year worldwide.