News: PS4 Ray Tracing

Crytek Brings Ray Tracing to Current Gen Consoles

This just goes to show that one should not form definitive opinions regarding emerging technology before it has ever been implemented in earnest. Graphics cards that support ray tracing have been on the market for a couple of years now, and after that time we are still limited to a handful of games that support the feature, a couple of which are extremely old titles that have had ray tracing bolted onto them, to serve as something of a tech demo. In this time enabling ray tracing on one of Nvidia’s RTX cards, which support hardware accelerated ray tracing, would always incur a substantial performance hit. Further, enabling ray tracing on cards that did not support hardware accelerated ray tracing incurred such a hit to performance that many people would conclude that it simply was not worth the trade off.

Impressive stuff.
All these years later Crysis is still pushing graphics technology.

This seems to have led to a good number of people overestimating exactly what kind of hardware was required for acceptable ray tracing performance, and even questioning the extent to which the next generation Sony and Microsoft machines would be up to the task. It is important to remember however that a lot of the games that have supported ray tracing up until now have been glorified tech demos. Control and Metro Exodus patched ray tracing support in after launch, while Quake II and Minecraft are old titles which have had ray tracing added to experiment with the technology. None of these games set out from the get go with the primary objective of creating a functional perfomant product first and foremost.

Crytek are gearing up to rerelease a remastered version of their defining title Crysis on the 18th of this month, and with it they are bringing support for ray traced reflections on the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X – neither of which have any sort of support for ray tracing baked into the hardware. This is the difference in developing a functional product as opposed to a zero compromise tech demo. Crytek have made a few key compromises, which have allowed them to essentially get next generation graphical effects running on the antiquated compute units of the Pro and the X. When playing the game with ray tracing enabled players will be limited to a dynamic 1080p resolution (or just a tad bellow, as is the case with the PS4 Pro), but the game looks to do a fairly decent job of hitting 30fps.

The way that Crytek got ray traced reflections running so well on such old hardware is that it is only in effect within a fixed circumference around the player. On top of this reflections are essentially interlaced, with every second line of an image updating every other second. It all looks rather good, and it is cause for a good deal of optimism regarding the PS5 and Series X’s ray tracing performance. If ray tracing can run this competently on current gen hardware with just a few sensible trade-offs, then how much better does it stand to function when it is being natively supported by the hardware?

The Lies of Remedy and 505 Games Have Been Exposed

Frequent readers of the site may be familiar with our coverage of Control: Ultimate Edition, and the anti-consumer bullshit surrounding it. Remedy is going to patch Control: Ultimate Edition to support next generation graphical features like ray tracing, but owners of the standard version of the game do not get access to this patch, even if they own all the DLC. This puts Remedy and 505 Games at odds with developers like CD Projekt Red, Ubisoft, and Rockstar, who wish to ensure that all owners their games will have access to next gen versions in such cases as a next gen version exists. Not so Remedy and 505 Games. According to them the Ultimate Edition is a completely seperate version of the game, and it would be fundamentally impossible to allow owners of the original game access to the next gen versions.

Buy the game again, freeloaders!
For a fleeting moment the impossible became possible on PS4.

We spent several months exploring all of our launch options for Control Ultimate Edition and no decision was taken lightly. While it is challenging bringing any game to next gen platforms, we quickly realized that it was even more difficult to upgrade our current user base to next-gen with full parity across platforms with our year-old game.

It is absolutely impossible to support older versions of Control. It is not as if the Ultimate Edition is just the base game with all the DLC. It is not as if Remedy and 505 Games could just flick a switch and support owners of the legacy versions of the game. How embarrassing would it be if it came to light that they could do just that, but were holding off as part of a grasping and pathetic cash grab? Oooops.

This week owners of the PS4 Digital Deluxe version of the game were instead able to download the Ultimate Edition. It is not difficult to see why this would be the case, given that it is the exact same content. The content is so exactly the same that not even PSN can distinguish between them. Probably because they are the same files being downloaded, just with a different product key attached to the purchase. Real nice, guys. Good job Remedy!

More Nintendo Switch Pro Rumours

When the Nintendo Switch Pro rumours were doing the rounds the other week, claiming that a 4K capable version of the Switch would go on sale in 2021, we here at TDT dismissed the idea based on historical precedent and the supposition that the Switch Pro would retain its portable form factor. It appears that this may not in fact be the case. A patent has emerged this week for a redesigned pair of Joycons which do not have railing down the side – the implication being that they cannot be attached to the system in the usual manner. A further implication that can be gleaned from this is that a potential Switch Pro will not be portable, and will instead be a conventional console. That being the case, then a 4K capable Switch console suddenly becomes a lot more plausible, since the requisite technology does not have to be crammed into a portable form factor.

This is still far from confirmation tho.
Who says you can’t have both?

On top of this news, it would seem that Bloomberg are doubling down on their rumours from the other week. They are now claiming that their sources have told them that companies developing for the Switch are being instructed to make their games “4K ready”. Caspius is still correct to point out that Bloomberg sources are like your friend’s uncle who works for Nintendo – but it is still possibly another piece to the puzzle. It would be nice if we could get a publication that is not Bloomberg to confirm some of this stuff.

10 comments

  1. Just before I heard about the new joycon designs on the podcast, I was playing some Breath Of The Wild and thinking, they need to make an updated version of these things. I’d be happy for pro-joycons even if they don’t make a pro-Switch, but it would be nice to have a dedicated console that doesn’t overheat every time.

  2. I’d buy a new Switch just for better battery life – tho I don’t expect Nintendo will ever do that.

  3. @TanzenMatt: As controllers, the joy-cons are really terrible. I don’t often use my Switch in portable mode, and that’s due to the controllers more than any other factor. They are bad.

    I’ve never had my Switch overheat, despite really pushing it for hours at a time with Fire Emblem, DQXI, Xenoblade, and BotW. What are you doing to it that makes it overheat?

  4. @SN: The later (current) model Switch has better battery life than the launch model, remember.

  5. It doesn’t overheat to the point of damaging the system or anything, but after playing it docked for a couple hours it feels very hot and a little concerning. This isn’t as much a problem when using it handheld – which I do more often than docked.

    I mostly use a couple 8bitdo controllers with it, but I like using the joycons for a couple games. It would be nice to have more solid, well-built versions.

  6. @Caspius Yah, but it’s like 30 minutes extra battery life. Of course I wouldn’t pay $450 for that.

  7. @SN: It’s considerably longer than that. I would say that my wife’s Switch lasts not quite twice as long, but at least half as long again (e.g. if my Switch dies in e.g. 4 hours, hers will last for somewhat more than six).

    Obviously this depends on what you are playing. If it is SNES Classics or something, it’s going to last a LOT longer than a normal Switch as opposed to if you are playing Xenoblade on it or something.

  8. It’s moot now. This convo convinced me to jump on Ebay and just pick up some external batteries. Because of my HDMI switcher woes I don’t have my Switch hooked up to the TV, and so I’ve been playing in handheld mode.

  9. idk because I ordered a bunch of thing from Ebay at the same time, and they are still coming in.

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