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PS5 Games That Make The Best Use Of Ray Tracing

Of all the things that the new generation of consoles promised gamers, the most anticipated graphical upgrade was ray tracing. While ray tracing has been possible on PCs for years, up until the Series X and the PlayStation 5 arrived, consoles simply didn't have the power to support the technology.

Ray tracing is a resource-intensive process that depends on a suite of advanced lighting techniques that cast out and calculate linear rays of light respective to the player's position. Ray tracing even considers how different surfaces reflect light and display the result accordingly, helping build a realistic, high fidelity world.

While games on the last generation of consoles certainly had mastered the art of adding convincing lighting to environments, those were preprogrammed and attached to static "baked in" effects. By using ray tracing, developers have a chance to improve visual fidelity across dynamic environments, such as open world settings. Here are the PlayStation 5 games that you can play right now that make the best use of ray tracing.

Spider-Man: Miles Morales swings to the top with smooth frames and beautiful ray tracing

The Sony exclusive Spider-Man: Miles Morales was one of the best-received of the PlayStation 5 launch titles and demonstrates attractive, well-optimized ray tracing.

While Spider-Man: Miles Morales was designed with high-end functions like ray tracing in mind, those settings can still take a toll on the frame count. That's why when the game launched with the PlayStation 5, it included two modes, Performance and Fidelity. To experience ray tracing in Spider-Man: Miles Morales, gamers need to make sure they have Fidelity Mode activated. This setting enables ray tracing, but only runs the game at 30 FPS.

The effects around New York City are subtle but stunning. Light glints realistically off puddles and windows to reflect lifelike images of the surrounding environment. However, the dip in performance can be a significant issue for some. Thankfully, developer Insomniac Games added a third option, Performance RT, which allows visuals and performance to meet in the middle. Ray tracing features are enabled, and 60 FPS is guaranteed, with a slight compromise to pedestrian density, reflection quality, and resolution.

Observer: System Redux reimagines horror on the next generation

Ray tracing isn't just a technology that adds value to the newest games available on the PlayStation 5. When implemented appropriately, it can also heighten the impact of games that have already been available for years. This was the case with Observer: System Redux.

The original cyberpunk-infused Observer debuted to positive reviews in Aug. 2017, three years before the PlayStation 5 came out. However, in preparation for the next generation of consoles, developer Bloober Team put together Observer: System Redux, an enhanced remake which added ray tracing effects.

As a psychological horror game, the enhanced lighting effects help sell the foreboding environment even more effectively. A review for PSU said, "The ray tracing adds to the atmosphere and really brings the apartment complex to life." These subtle effects make all the difference for a game that has the goal of drawing you into its neon gloom.

If ray tracing can produce such a strong effect in a game whose base code is over three years old, imagine what it can do for future games designed around the technology.

Call of Duty: Black Ops - Cold War shows what a big budget can accomplish with ray tracing

An example of how developers use ray tracing in one of gaming's biggest franchises comes from Treyarch's new Call of Duty: Black Ops – Cold War. Ray tracing was first introduced to the series with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare on the PC, and Black Ops – Cold War shows just how far the technology has come.

Eurogamer reported, "the effect in Cold War is exceptional, almost as if the game's art designs are built around the technology. Scenes that look perfectly fine with traditional shadow maps look so much better with ray traced shadows enabled: soft and diffuse at distance, ultra-sharp close-up, just as they should be."

Black Ops – Cold War has fantastic set pieces to see these effects in action, such as a nighttime airfield chase. Lights coming from the plane and nearby vehicles show how ray tracing casts realistic, dynamic reflections from fast-moving objects in complex environments. A video demonstration from NVIDIA shows how ray tracing helps deliver a smoother, more realistic environment and sell the experience to the player.

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