CD PROJEKT RED’s Cyberpunk 2077 is already one of the most technologically advanced games available, using several ray tracing techniques to render its neon-illuminated environments and vast Night City visuals at incredible levels of detail. On April 11th, a new Cyberpunk 2077 update will hit the streets, featuring the technology preview of the Ray Tracing: Overdrive Mode, which enhances the game’s already-amazing visuals with full ray tracing, otherwise known as path tracing.
Full ray tracing accurately simulates light throughout an entire scene. It is used by visual effects artists to create film and TV graphics that are indistinguishable from reality, but until the arrival of GeForce RTX GPUs with RT Cores, and the AI-powered acceleration of NVIDIA DLSS, real-time video game full ray tracing was impossible because it’s extremely GPU intensive.
Previous techniques separately addressed ray-traced shadows, reflections and global illumination for a small number of light sources. Full ray tracing models the properties of light from a virtually unlimited number of emissive sources, delivering physically correct shadows, reflections and global illumination on all objects.
The technology preview for Cyberpunk 2077’s Ray Tracing: Overdrive Mode is a sneak peek into the future of full ray tracing, and we are working with CD PROJEKT RED on further full ray tracing enhancements, bug fixes, and performance optimizations.
One of the most impactful additions in the technology preview of Cyberpunk 2077’s Ray Tracing: Overdrive Mode is NVIDIA RTX Direct Illumination (RTXDI), a free SDK that enables developers to closely replicate the appearance of light in scenes with numerous light sources. With RTXDI, thousands of objects can emit ray-traced light. In Cyberpunk 2077, each neon sign, street lamp, LED billboard, car headlight, and other source of light is now ray-traced, bathing objects, walls, passing cars and pedestrians in accurate lighting.
With full ray tracing and RTXDI, now practically all light sources cast physically correct soft shadows, a feat previously unimaginable using previous approaches. Players will experience enhanced shadowing, with better depth, detail and realism. Cyberpunk 2077 features a full day-night cycle. To upgrade indirect lighting from all emissive sources, including the sun and moon, Global Illumination (GI) needed to be path traced, too. Rendering techniques including Screen Space Reflections, Screen Space Ambient Occlusion, and the existing GI solutions were replaced by a single unified algorithm that delivers more accurate lighting of scenes and objects.
Rasterization based lighting pipelines rely on many independent subsystems. It’s not uncommon that they can create unbalanced lighting in more complex scenarios. Ray tracing significantly improved overall quality and some of the main pain points of each subsystem. The unified fully ray-traced pipeline builds on these advances and completely removes the need for extensive per-scene tweaking, delivering amazing and predictable results each time, while also improving image quality, immersion, and realism.
With the Ray Tracing: Overdrive Mode enabled, natural colored lighting bounces multiple times throughout Cyberpunk 2077’s world, creating more realistic indirect lighting and occlusion. Reflections now incorporate bounced detail, too, and are rendered at full resolution, accentuating the cyberpunk aesthetic and further heightening immersion. Combined, the full ray tracing of direct and global illumination give gamers the most advanced real-time lighting seen to date in gaming, and a preview of how all games will look in the future. To bring these incredible effects to life, at performant frame rates, CD PROJEKT RED and NVIDIA have worked hand in hand to introduce new optimizations for this entirely new fully ray-traced pipeline.
NVIDIA Shader Execution Reordering (SER) helps GPUs with executing incoherent workloads boosting performance, NVIDIA Real-Time Denoisers (NRD) have been leveraged to further improve performance and image quality, and our drivers have been specially tuned to optimize frame rates. So be sure to update to the Cyberpunk 2077 Ray Tracing: Overdrive Mode GeForce Game Ready Driver. Together with NVIDIA DLSS 3, the performance multiplier, these technologies, tweaks and optimizations enable GeForce RTX 40 Series gamers to play Cyberpunk 2077 fully ray-traced with maximum performance.
“Here at CD PROJEKT RED we are very proud to be technology innovators, and DLSS 3 gives us meaningful performance gains to tackle the addition of even higher levels of ray tracing to deliver a visually rich experience for our gamers.” – Jakub Knapik, VP, Global Art Director, CD PROJEKT RED
Full ray tracing is extremely GPU intensive. For the technology preview of Cyberpunk 2077’s Ray Tracing: Overdrive Mode we recommend using a GeForce RTX 40 Series GPU and NVIDIA DLSS 3. The technology preview of Cyberpunk 2077’s Ray Tracing: Overdrive Mode will be coming on April 11th to all PC store fronts, giving GeForce RTX 40 Series gamers the ultimate Cyberpunk 2077 experience.
Those without a game-ready device can also experience Cyberpunk 2077 with DLSS 3 and full ray tracing in the new Ray Tracing: Overdrive Mode by streaming it from the cloud with a GeForce NOW Ultimate membership, which gives you the power of a GeForce RTX 4080-class PC in the cloud.