The Ascent Tech Q&A – No Ray Tracing on Xbox Series; No Plans to Add AMD FSR

The Ascent

The Ascent, an impressive-looking cyberpunk-themed twin-stick shooter made by indie developer Neon Giant, will be released today on PC (Steam and Microsoft Store), Xbox One, and Xbox Series S|X (included with Game Pass for subscribers).

We'll have our review available soon, but in the meantime, we're sharing our latest chat with the developers. This is entirely focused on technical details that had not been finalized yet when we previously spoke. Enjoy!

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Can you talk about your experience with the implementation of NVIDIA DLSS in The Ascent? How much of a performance boost are you seeing at 4K resolution?

Tor Frick, Co-founder and Creative Director: I don’t have any exact numbers handy, but with raytracing at 4K it is a substantial boost, and necessary for higher framerates. We are currently on DLSS 2.1, but looking to upgrade to 2.2 either for launch or very shortly thereafter. The implementation went very smoothly, with some support from our friends at Nvidia.

Do you have any plans to implement AMD's Fidelity FX Super Resolution (FSR), too, eventually? If not, why?

Tor Frick: We have not looked into it, no. For the most part, we are using solutions provided out of the box with Unreal, as we are a small team. We try to make as good use of it as possible and push the engine as much as we can, but we have not had the opportunity to look at it.

Can you discuss your implementation of ray traced reflections and shadows in The Ascent?

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Tor Frick: The Ascent is a bit of a special case, one would think the camera angle would make it easier to implement raytracing, but due to how much of the world we have loaded at any given time, we actually needed quite a few bespoke implementations for the raytracing, especially for the culling of geometry, since we do have a lot of that. It took a bit of back and forth to find the right methods for this.

Visually, we also tweaked the reflections both for performance, but also with an added layer of visual control to be able to enhance the effect. Things like the strength and roughness of the reflections, to make sure that the effect was brought out to its maximum. We have a lot of moving objects and animated shaders in the world, and we wanted to make use of that as much as possible. So when playing with raytraced reflections enabled you will actually see reflected animated billboards that are only visible with ray tracing, as they are outside the playable space. Just to bring that additional layer of life into the world.

Are these ray traced effects also available on Xbox Series X and S? If so, is the ray tracing quality exactly the same?

Tor Frick: We do not support ray tracing on Xbox unfortunately, it’s a PC-only feature.

Did you evaluate any other DX12 Ultimate features for The Ascent, such as Variable Rate Shading, Mesh Shading, and Sampler Feedback? Could these be added post-launch?

Tor Frick: We did some tests with variable rate shading, but in our case, it was not so much of a win and we decided to go without it. We are also a little bit too early for many of these features to be fully available for us to use since we are relying a lot on our partners for the heavy tech lifting.

Thank you in advance.

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