Nvidia’s GeForce RTX graphics cards may be mighty powerful in their own right, but they are squarely aimed at delivering a feature long desired by developers and gamers alike: Real-time ray tracing. The lighting technique is the closest approximation we have for modeling the way light behaves in the real world, and it looks beautiful on both RTX cards and most recently, GTX cards too.
But which games support it? Right now, just a few. Even though graphics cards are being sold in desktops and laptops alike, and Nvidia recently enabled ray tracing on older and recent GTX graphics cards, the currently-announced list of existing and upcoming games is surprisingly short.
Here are all the current or upcoming games that support Nvidia’s RTX-driven ray tracing technology.
Games with ray tracing
Arguably the most established series to adopt the new ray tracing technology, Battlefield V was showcased right alongside Nvidia’s new cards at Gamescom last year with reflections of explosions in everything from car doors to eyeballs. It was released on October 11, 2018, and has since been repeatedly used as the de facto demo of ray tracing. We’ve tested the game’s ray tracing capabilities and found it to be effective, but a bit of a performance hog, even with further optimizations.
Control would be a striking game with or without ray tracing, but its lighting and reflections look hauntingly otherworldly in the Nvidia RTX demonstration. The third-person action-adventure title has a number of PC-only graphical improvements.
It was used as a showcase for a number of ray tracing’s pretty lighting effects in the lead up to its release, and now that it’s out it’s proving popular with reviewers and gamers alike. Not just for its pretty lighting, but it certainly helps.
Metro Exodus (and The Two Colonels DLC)
The Metro series has always been at the forefront of new graphical technology and Exodus is no different. Released in mid-February, 2019, it delivered some of the most expansive ray tracing support of any game yet. We weren’t exactly thrilled with how it was implemented though, with some scenes turning from beautifully, hand-lit locations with traditional baked lighting, to dark messes where you couldn’t see anything.
Enabling DLSS fixed some of the performance issues we ran into but it in turn made the game blurry. An argument could be made that Metro Exodus looks better without either Nvidia technology enabled.
Gamers can now also enjoy the new Two Colonels DLC, with all of the same ray tracing effects as the base game.
Quake II RTX
The classic shooter is back with a whole new look. RTX ray tracing turns the 22-year-old Quake II into an entirely new game with gorgeous lighting effects, deep and visually impactful shadows, and all the classic highs of the original iconic FPS. Quake II RTX also adds new textures on top of changes and improvements made in Q2VKPT and Q2Pro iterations of the game, creating the definitive Quake II experience for the modern day.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Shown off on stage during the original Nvidia 20-series unveiling, Shadow of the Tomb Raider might have run into a few frame rate issues on the show floor, but it proved a great example of just how pretty ray-traced lighting can be.
It took until March 2019 for ray tracing to be patched into the game, but it’s now available for existing and new owners. If you want a look at how it looks in real-time and how it’s implemented, check out the new ray tracing demo Nvidia released in late March.
Stay in the Light
Stay in the Light is a Steam Early Access horror puzzle game that charges players with making their way through procedurally generated dungeons while avoiding an ogre-like creature.
The kicker here is that Stay in the Light is built from the ground up to take advantage of RTX ray tracing, using reflections and shadows to highlight where the monster is. It works well enough with GTX cards, according to the developers, but they recommend an RTX GPU to enjoy the full experience.
The 1980s’ meets the Wolfenstein franchise in dramatic fashion in Wolfenstein: Youngblood. High-speed shooter action with brand new lighting effects! The new crop of Wolfenstein games have all been pretty, but Youngblood takes things to a whole new level. Youngblood was one of the games in Nvidia’s RTX showcase at E3 this year but sadly, the game launched without ray tracing.
According to a recent interview with GamesBeat, Jerk Gustafsson, the games Executive Producer revealed Nvidia’s engineers are still working to deliver ray-tracing. However, if you don’t own an RTX card already, you’re in luck as it’s currently being bundled with any purchase of an Nvidia RTX card.
Games that will have ray tracing in the future
Atomic Heart is described as an “alt universe” shooter set at the height of the Soviet Union but with a rather different interpretation of how the world might have turned out. While its universe might be strange and hard to pin down though, its graphics technology won’t be. It’s beautiful, and ray tracing will only enhance that. Atomic Heart is expected to release sometime in 2019.
While we wait, there is a tech-demo you can try out if you want to get a taste of how it will look. Download it from developer, Mundfish, here.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
The next iteration of the intensely popular Call of Duty franchise will be the first to feature real-time ray tracing. Following in the footsteps of its fast-paced shooter counterpart, Battlefield V, CoD:MW will bring real time lighting for shadows for a more realistic and believable game world. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is set to be released on October 25, 2019.
As well as questioning just what makes us human, Cyberpunk 2077 has the potential to be one of the best-looking games ever made and ray traced lighting will aid it in that effort.
“Ray tracing allows us to realistically portray how light behaves in a crowded urban environment,” said Adam Badowski, Head of Studio, CD Projekt Red. “Thanks to this technology, we can add another layer of depth and verticality to the already impressive megacity the game takes place in.”
It’s set for release on April 16, 2020.
Doom Eternal is the next entry in the iconic Doom franchise and brings with it a number of improvements and enhancements, as well as a brand new campaign. It won’t have ray traced lighting at launch, but id Software has pledged to make its implementation a priority post launch.
Dying Light 2
The original cooperative zombie slaying, parkour shooter, Dying Light, was a monstrous success. The sequel is likely to be the same and it will bring with it a number of visual enhancements, one of which is real time ray traced shadows. Details about its implementation are so far quite thin, but we’ll learn more as we head towards the game’s rough 2020 release date.
Enlisted is a World War II squad shooter MMO that looks to recreate some of the most expansive battles of the war. You may not have time to take in all of the pretty ray tracing effects, but when it debuts in 2019 you’ll get your chance.
Justice is Chinese developer NetEase’s attempt at a WoW-killer with a martial arts flair. It might not get the most traction in the west, but the already pretty game should look even better with a dose of ray-traced lighting. You can download a demo of what its ray tracing support will look like from Nvidia’s website.
JX3 is an HD remake of the original JX3 from 2009. It’s another martial-arts themed MMO straight out of China, and although it’s unlikely to generate a huge player base here, it’s still one of the first to adopt the new ray tracing technology.
Everyone and their dog knows of, and has likely played, Minecraft. It’s been out for more than a decade and is still one of the world’s most popular games.
But its lo-fi graphics are set to get a major overhaul in the form of ray traced lighting. You can buy Minecraft now if you want to get a head start on this, but we don’t know yet when ray tracing will be officially added. There are third-party options you can play with in the meantime, however.
Mechwarrior V: Mercenaries
The next entry in the iconic Mechwarrior series, Mechwarrior V: Mercenaries will feature plenty of raw and scraped metal for ray-traced lighting to reflect off of, making it a great example of the technology’s early implementation. Little has been said of its ray tracing support since the original announcement, however. It was slated to release in the first few months of 2019, but it’s now planned to launch on September 10.
Not much is known about ProjectDH other than its been under development at Nexon for a couple of years. Early test footage suggests it’s a little like a horseback Monster Hunter with ranged weaponry, but at this stage, it’s anyone’s guess. How it will implement ray tracing is equally nebulous.
Synced: Off Planet
An intriguing 50-player, third-person, competitive shooter from Asian publishing powerhouse, Tencent, Synced: Off Planet will combine PVP and PVE gameplay in a beautifully rendered world. Ray tracing will allow for detailed, real-time reflections and shadows, providing some gorgeous visual effects, but also some competitive advantage, letting players see around corners or behind themselves using the reflections.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2
With a planned release of March 2020, Bloodlines 2 is a long-awaited sequel of the hit-2004 vampire action title, Vampire: The Masquerade- Bloodlines. The new game will feature high-speed chases, fast-paced melee combat, and a selection of intriguing characters who have their own webs of deceit and plots that will unravel as the story progresses. Early visuals of the game are impressive, with ray tracing providing an additional layer of realism to the gritty world of underground vampiric wars.
Watch Dogs: Legion
The next game in the open-world, hacking-sim series, Watch Dogs: Legion will bring a number of innovations to the franchise, but one of the more notable visual enhancements is ray tracing. The detailed cityscape players inhabit will benefit from ray traced reflections, making puddles and polished surfaces look far more real. Legion is set to release in March 2020.