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Unreal Engine Adds Ray Tracing Support Giving NVIDIA RTX GPUs a Shot in the Arm

Feb 13, 2019
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Since NVIDIA announced their GeForce RTX line of graphics cards, there’s been a lot of excitement for real-time ray tracing, but not a lot of actual support. Battlefield V and Metro Exodus include ray tracing, but the large majority of big games are still playing wait and see with the new tech. Well, we may be about to see ray tracing in a lot more games, as Unreal Engine now supports ray tracing and path tracing.

The latest preview version of Unreal Engine 4 includes both low-level and high-level support for ray tracing, which means the thousands of developers who use Epic’s engine should now be able to implement the fancy new reflection tech relatively easily. Needless to say, this is a big boost for NVIDIA’s RTX cards as ray tracing uptake has been slower than expected, with many games, such as Shadow of the Tomb Raider, holding back despite promising to support the tech.

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Here’s a rundown of Unreal Engine devs’ new ray tracing options, from the UE 4.22 preview notes:

Real-Time Ray Tracing and Path Tracing (Early Access)

Added ray tracing low level support:

  • Implemented a low level layer on top of UE DirectX 12 that provides support for DXR and allows creating and using ray tracing shaders (ray generation shaders, hit shaders, etc) to add ray tracing effects.

Added high-level ray tracing features:

  • Rect area lights
  • Soft shadows
  • Reflections
  • Reflected shadows
  • Ambient occlusion
  • RTGI (real time global illumination)
  • Translucency
  • Clearcoat
  • IBL
  • Sky
  • Geometry types: Triangle meshes, Static, Skeletal (Morph targets & Skin cache), Niagara particles support
  • Texture LOD
  • Denoiser
  • Shadows, Reflections, AO
  • Path Tracert
  • Unbiased, full GI path tracer for making ground truth reference renders inside UE4.

It will be interesting to see how quickly we see Unreal Engine devs implementing ray tracing in their games. Recent major titles built with Unreal include Spyro Reignited Trilogy, Kingdom Hearts III, Vampyr, Ace Combat 7, and Soulcalibur VI. Which games would you like to see get a bit shinier?

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