Hitman 3 showcases how pointless ray tracing could be

Nvidia and AMD revealed at Computex 2022 that Hitman 3 would obtain help for ray tracing and each Nvidia and AMD’s supersampling applied sciences, following an announcement from developer IO Interactive late final 12 months. The replace is right here and I’ve had a likelihood to attempt it out, however I wasn’t left salivating over all of the visible glitter like I anticipated.

Ray tracing can actually make visuals extra reasonable, however on this sport, it proves that including ray tracing to all video games isn’t obligatory — particularly when it tanks efficiency with out including a lot when it comes to noticeable profit. Hitman 3 is a actuality examine, particularly for those who suppose ray tracing is the be-all and end-all of graphics.

Hitman 3 doesn’t want ray tracing

Hitman 3 has little or no to realize from ray tracing, and spending a while with the brand new replace solely confirmed that for me. The replace brings ray-traced reflections and shadows, which you possibly can toggle on individually. However after enjoying via a number of missions and capturing round 50 screenshots, it’s arduous to see the profit.

You may see an instance of that from the Dubai degree above. The ray-traced model (left) reveals the beam that Agent 47 is climbing solid barely extra shadow, however these two scenes are virtually equivalent. In the event that they weren’t facet by facet, I wouldn’t have the ability to inform you which of them one is utilizing ray tracing, actually.

That’s to not say ray tracing isn’t doing something, simply that it’s not doing very a lot. I observed the reflections most on semitransparent reflective surfaces (largely glass), the place ray tracing reveals reflections that wouldn’t usually render. You may see an instance of that within the Maldives degree from Hitman 2 beneath (ray tracing is on the left).

Agent 47 standing in the Maldives in Hitman 3.

I captured one other instance within the Miami degree (beneath), the place you possibly can see the ticket sales space window reflecting the individuals in step with the ray-traced model (left).

A reflective window in Hitman 3.

The difficulty is that these comparisons solely delay in one-for-one screenshots. Whereas enjoying, they’re arduous to note as a result of Hitman 3 already has unbelievable reflections and lighting. In lots of circumstances, you’re getting ray-traced reflections even with out ray tracing turned on, which each the Maldives and Miami ranges confirmed.

For the window in Miami, it confirmed the great ray-traced reflections from a distance, however that reflection shortly shifted as soon as I took a couple of steps towards the window. Hitman 3 already makes use of screen-space reflections, and even with ray tracing turned on, it is going to default to those reflections whenever you’re up shut. Under, you possibly can see how the center and proper photographs (ray tracing on and off, respectively) look equivalent regardless of the ray-traced reflection within the left picture.

Reflection comparison in Hitman 3.

On this scene, ray tracing helps the shadows greater than anything. They appear unbelievable, however that wasn’t my expertise via the entire ranges I checked out (extra on that in the subsequent part).

Within the Maldives, I discovered comparable shifting to the default reflections. The home windows on every hut (beneath) look a lot nicer from a distance with ray tracing turned on, however they’ve the very same reflection whenever you stand up near them.

Reflection comparison in the Maldives level in Hitman 3.

There are some visible advantages to turning on ray tracing in Hitman 3, however the vanilla construct presents a lot of the identical expertise, particularly regarding particulars you’ll really take a look at. Sadly, the professionals of ray tracing in Hitman 3 are massively outweighed by the cons.

Ray tracing can look a lot worse

Hitman 3 wasn’t designed with full-on ray tracing in thoughts, which results in some awkward scenes the place turning ray tracing on really makes the sport look worse.  I used to be particularly disenchanted within the neon-dripped Chongqing degree, the place I anticipated ray tracing to shine probably the most.

Ray tracing comparison in Hitman 3.

Within the ray-traced picture (above left), you possibly can see the left wall doesn’t maintain a mirrored image just like the picture with out ray tracing. The ray-traced picture is actually extra reasonable —  a rain-soaked wall in an alley wouldn’t mirror lights which are a mile or extra away — however does it look higher? Not likely.

It’s a case of expectation versus actuality. IO Interactive clearly designed this scene in order that it was drenched within the neon glow of a Chinese language metropolis, which suggests bending the principles of how mild behaves to attain a creative imaginative and prescient. Activate the ray tracing change, and people intentions are misplaced.

Chongqing was disappointing, however the Miami degree was downright stunning. With ray tracing on, some shadows confirmed nasty interactions with the extremely detailed surfaces in the sport. You may see the streaking and aliasing current on Agent 47’s again within the ray-traced picture (beneath left), which isn’t current with ray tracing turned off.

Ray tracing shadow comparison in Hitman 3.

As my screenshots from Miami present within the part above, ray tracing renders shadows that in any other case wouldn’t be in the sport. It’s a perk, however when a shadow that’s taking over a good portion of the display appears to be like a lot worse, it’s time to prioritize.

I’m not knocking Hitman 3 right here. It’s an attractive sport, among the finest video games to point out off the facility of your gaming PC. The issue is that ray tracing is coming in on high of what’s already a wonderful lighting implementation that saves on efficiency the place it must with out sacrificing an excessive amount of picture high quality.

And efficiency is the important thing metric for ray tracing in Hitman 3 since it completely tanks your body price.

Hitman 3’s ray tracing tanks efficiency

Ray tracing performance benchmarks in Hitman 3.

You could be questioning: So what? Ray tracing might not be good, nevertheless it nonetheless presents some visible benefits. It’s arduous to justify ray tracing in Hitman 3 when efficiency is introduced into the combination, although. Turning ray tracing on tanked my body price to round a 3rd of what I achieved with it turned off.

That’s not shocking since ray tracing is demanding in any sport that helps it, however AMD’s FidelityFX Tremendous Decision (FSR) and Nvidia’s Deep Studying Tremendous Sampling (DLSS) don’t do sufficient to fight the issue. Even with probably the most aggressive Efficiency mode of FSR, ray tracing is 36 frames behind. Take into account, as effectively, that the run with out ray tracing is at native decision.

Upscaling comparison in Hitman 3.

FSR and DLSS don’t look nice at their most aggressive modes, both. You may see an instance of that in Berlin above. The DLSS (center) and FSR (left) photographs present a nasty wash on the puddle in the underside left, they usually each confirmed shimmering and flickering on the illuminated wall towards the again.

A nasty exhibiting for ray tracing

Ray tracing can elevate the look of a sport, nevertheless it’s not a assure. In a comparatively gradual third-person stealth sport like Hitman 3, ray tracing doesn’t make sense when balanced towards the reflection and lighting choices accessible at this time, in addition to the efficiency price of ray tracing.

Opposite to Nvidia’s RTX advertising and marketing and the claims of current-gen consoles, ray tracing isn’t a necessary characteristic in AAA video video games. It’s pointless in lots of circumstances, and Hitman 3 is a main of instance of that.

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