When I revisited Cyberpunk 2077 recently, one of the most pleasant parts of the experience was the way a two-year break had presented me with a game that looked, and performed, way better than it had at launch.
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Two years of driver updates and DLSS sorcery meant the game I played in early 2023 looked almost like a next-gen sequel to the choppy, sluggish one I’d trudged through in late 2020. And that’s a jump I feel like some of us are about to go through once more, because Nvidia’s new “Overdrive” mode is coming out next week, and it looks shit hot.
Here’s how the company describes it:
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.
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The point being, of course, that if you buy an expensive 40-series Nvidia graphics card in 2023, that tech is no longer impossible. It means “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”, and that with global illumination thrown in “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.”
Here’s what it looks like in action:
This level of visuals is, of course, not for me. I am but a man, with a 2070 Super, who looks upon this as a lovely but also expensive dalliance that maybe, one day in the distant future, I’ll get to enjoy. Like the time I got a new PC in 2015 and could finally crank 2008’s Mirror’s Edge up to max quality.
If you do have a 40-series Nvidia card, or are getting one soon, this update will be out on April 11.