Ray Tracing Support Has Been Spotty so Far; 8K Is Years Away, If Ever, from Being Standard

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Head of Gaming at Microsoft Phil Spencer gave some rather frank answers in an interview posted yesterday on Wired. On the topic of ray tracing, one of the defining features of the upcoming next-generation consoles, Spencer admitted that so far support has been less than impactful for gamers.

When I think about games where ray tracing has had a dramatic impact on my experience as a player, it’s kind of spotty.

Of course, PC is far ahead of consoles when it comes to ray tracing support, having paved the way with NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 2000 Series (known as the Turing architecture) over two years ago. However, there’s no shortage of PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X games already confirmed to feature ray tracing, such as:

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  • Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales (PS5)
  • Gran Turismo 7 (PS5)
  • Quantum Error (PS5)
  • Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart (PS5)
  • Devil May Cry 5 Special Edition (PS5, Xbox Series X)
  • Bright Memory Infinite (PS5, Xbox Series X)
  • Observer: System Redux (PS5, Xbox Series X)
  • Chorus (PS5, Xbox Series X)
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 (Xbox Series X)
  • Call of the Sea (Xbox Series X)
  • The Medium (Xbox Series X)
  • The Ascent (Xbox Series X)

In the same interview, Spencer expressed skepticism that 8K displays will become standard in games any time soon, if ever.

I think 8K is aspirational technology. The display capabilities of devices are not really there yet. I think we’re years away from 8K being—if it ever is—standard in video games.

On this topic, it is really hard to disagree with Phil Spencer. Game developers have been trying to come up with clever ways to diminish the already great performance cost of rendering at 4K resolution; 8K resolution isn’t really feasible in any way for next-generation consoles, even though they are technically compatible with it through the HDMI 2.1 specification.

In fact, only the mighty GeForce RTX 3090, released very recently and priced $1499, can really do smooth 8K gaming in some titles. Even then, it’s only when the game is either very optimized and not that demanding anymore (Destiny 2) or supports the new NVIDIA DLSS 2.1 8x upscaling mode.

In short, don’t expect to play 8K games on a console until the generation after the one that’s about to begin. But don’t be too dismayed about it, too, as the differences will likely be minimal anyway.

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