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‘Cyberpunk 2077’ is getting a path-tracing ‘Overdrive Mode’ in April

The most recent and pricey Nvidia graphics cards are needed for the tech preview.

Nvidia encourages game designers to keep in mind that ray tracing is just the beginning. Path tracing is supported by a brand-new Cyberpunk 2077 technology preview called “Overdrive Mode,” which is the next milestone to make games even gorgeous and keep you from investing in pricey new GPUs. The two-year-old game supports the technology, joining other games with relatively simple graphics like Minecraft, Portal, and Quake II. A developer kit was also made public by Nvidia in order to prepare for the arrival of the following generation of cutting-edge graphics.

Path tracing more accurately simulates how light behaves in the actual world by following the light as it bounces about an environment, as opposed to ray tracing, which tracks a single beam of light throughout a virtual scene. It controls how light is reflected or absorbed by neighboring surfaces, creating soft, physically correct shadows that more easily persuade our minds that we are looking at a real-life, outdoor picture. And the gaming industry will follow this progress without hesitation because it seems sense that humans will perceive more realistic images. Path tracing has been utilized in Hollywood for years, but it was a time-consuming, expensive technique that was not compatible with consumer equipment or even remotely real-time.

To appreciate Cyberpunk 2077’s path tracing, you’ll need the most potent Nvidia RTX 40-series GPUs, so we need to temper our expectations for the time being (and those who do may run into performance issues). Yet, Nvidia is eager to guide the market towards what will become more and more feasible for consumer graphics in the years to come.

This achievement, according to Nvidia, was made possible by DLSS 3 (AI-based image upscaling without performance loss) and Shade Execution Reordering (more efficient ray tracing without losing quality). Nvidia noted in a blog post that “DLSS allows games to render 1/8th of the pixels, then uses AI and GeForce RTX Tensor Cores to reconstruct the remainder, substantially increasing frame rates while delivering crisp, high-quality pictures that rival native resolution.”

But it’s likely going to be some time before this technology is generally available, Nvidia released a new SDK this week to help developers get ready. Starting on April 11th, owners of the most recent and finest Nvidia GPUs can test the Cyberpunk 2077 “Overdrive Mode” tech preview.