During the Game Developers Conference on Wednesday, game developer CD Projekt RED revealed that the Cyberpunk 2077 Ray Tracing (RT): Overdrive Mode would be previewed on April 11 with the release of patch 1.62.
Cyberpunk 2077 is widely known as one of the most complex games on the market, largely due to its massive world scale and breathtaking visuals. The game’s neon-illuminated environments and sprawling Night City vistas set new standards for real-time graphics capabilities.
CD Projekt RED wants to elevate the game’s graphics to the next level by incorporating RTX Path Tracing with the upcoming RT: Overdrive Mode release.
Path tracing — also known as full ray tracing — is a technique used by visual effects artists to design film and TV graphics that closely simulate real-life lighting.
However, path tracing requires a massive amount of GPU power, making real-time path tracing in video games impossible until the advent of GeForce RTX GPUs with RT Cores and NVIDIA DLSS’ AI-powered acceleration.
“This not only gives better visuals to the players but also has the promise to revolutionize the entire pipeline of how games are being created.”
Pawel Kozlowski, NVIDIA senior technology developer engineer
The gaming industry is aware of the current limitations of real-time direct and indirect lighting algorithms — like screen-space reflections, low-resolution indirect light multiplied by screen-space ambient occlusion and non-shadow casting lights with non-physically based range.
Game developers and designers are still using those algorithms. Unfortunately, while these techniques may offer better performance on lower-end hardware, they ultimately reduce the maximum image quality and limit content creator flexibility.
RTX Path Tracing seeks to overcome these limitations by providing pixel-perfect soft shadows and indirect light contribution in entirely dynamic environments from all light sources, including analytical local lights, emissive surfaces and skylights.
By doing so, content creators will have more flexibility to design detailed and immersive worlds.
Patch 1.62 features, expansion updates
CD Projekt RED and NVIDIA first revealed the Cyberpunk 2077 RT: Overdrive Mode updates during the Ada Lovelace GeForce RTX 40 Series unveiling in September 2022.
Patch 1.62 will introduce new path-traced features, such as NVIDIA RTX Direct Illumination (RTXDI), providing accurate ray-traced lighting and shadows to each object in the game. It also includes ray-traced indirect lighting and reflections that bounce many times, creating a more realistic, immersive environment.
Ray-traced reflections are now generated at full resolution to enhance their quality. Furthermore, improved, more physically-based lighting has been implemented, eliminating the need for other occlusion techniques.
Overall, this update is designed to improve the game’s visual quality and realism.
It will require a lot of processing power, even on powerful computers. That said, the game now supports NVIDIA DLSS 3 (Frame Generation), which gives a significant performance boost compared to the previous DLSS 2 (Super Resolution).
Furthermore, Patch 1.62 will include Shader Execution Ordering (SER) support, making ray tracing operations more efficient. According to NVIDIA, SER can speed up GPU processing by about 42 percent in Cyberpunk 2077.
Apart from the long-awaited path-traced features, there are other improvements. While details about these tweaks remain undisclosed, the developer pledged to release updates for police or wanted level and vehicle combat systems later this year.
Moreover, the game will also receive Phantom Liberty, the most expensive expansion to date. The add-on will introduce a new district called Dogtown, with a new character Reed leading the storyline and assigning V with a challenging espionage mission.