What is ray tracing in games?

The gaming experience is something that can always be improved. Thanks to technological advances like ray tracing, our favorite titles can scale to the next level. Stay, if you want to know more about this breakthrough in the world of video games.

What is ray tracing?

Although it has been used in the film industry for a long time, the term ray tracing is still unknown. Especially when it comes to video games.

Until recently, every time a console needed to generate images to send them to our screens, it used rasterization. This technique translates 3D graphics into 2D pixels that you see on the screen, and then lighting is applied to them. Ray tracing is an alternative approach. At first, we must warn you that it is more demanding on the hardware, but it usually generates impressive visual results by tracking literally every virtual ray of light.

To put it simply, it is the simulation of light interactions in real time with virtual objects. In this way, an approach to lighting that is naturally achieved in the real world is achieved.

How does ray tracing work?

In the real world, visible light is captured by the human eye thanks to a phenomenon called electromagnetic radiation. This, in turn, contains photons that behave like particles and waves. So, in the game it’s about recreating the behavior of natural light.

With ray tracing, the path of light transport is traced by projecting millions of virtual photons. The brighter the light, the more virtual photons a computer’s GPU must compute. As a consequence, you get more in-game surfaces that will reflect, refract, and scatter this simulated light.

Types of ray tracing

The level of realism in a 3D graphic representation, through ray tracing, depends on the type of technique used. Here are some of them:

  • In real time: offers a more immersive and realistic experience. It is very demanding in terms of processing power as it requires advanced graphics cards. In this way, he manages to offer lighting that is affected by the movements of the avatars.
  • Raster-based: This technique allows real-time lighting to be combined with detailed shadows and reflections. However, it forces developers to put a lot of work into faking lighting and its associated effects.
  • Hybrid: Uses a ray tracing algorithm to calculate scene lighting, allowing for effective light simulation. This technique is much more accurate than isolated ray tracing because it takes into account the interaction between objects and the position of the light.
  • Path tracing: This technique simulates the behavior of real light by representing illumination by refraction and diffraction. When a ray of light strikes an object, the ray is partially reflected by the object, allowing illumination of the object from the opposite direction. This means that many rays can come out of a single point of origin, generating indirect light and diffuse reflections. Consequently, it creates smooth shadows, a sense of depth, and more realistic textures.

What is its impact on the gaming experience?

Ray tracing has had a huge impact on the gaming experience, allowing for a much higher level of realism than traditional rendering technologies. This results in the creation of more realistic and natural visual effects, such as reflections and dynamic global illumination. Likewise, in the application of shadows and environmental occlusion techniques.

In addition, this technology significantly improves the fluidity of the user experience. This is something that you can experience thanks to the acceleration of graphics cards, such as those offered by NVIDIA or ASUS.

By improving the graphic quality, higher frame rates and greater fluidity in the game can be achieved. If you want to see this experience in action, play Minecraft with ray tracing enabled. You will be able to see the reflective, glass-like surface of the water. Likewise, you will observe how the cabins made of logs cast realistic shadows on the ground.

Other famous titles that already include this technology are: Fortnite, Battlefield, Call of Duty Modern Warfare, Quake II and Resident Evil Village, just to name a few. Now, at the console or hardware level, the PS5 and Xbox Series X provide reliable solutions for ray tracing. The power present in both consoles offers stability in its operation in general.

To conclude, we want to ask you: Have you noticed the presence of this technology in your favorite games before? If you don’t mind receiving a slight lag in frame rates you can enjoy ray tracing at all times. Surely, you will feel more immersed and pleased with every minute you spend in front of your screen.