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Fortnite Gets Fully Featured Ray Tracing Support on September 17

(Image credit: Nvidia)

Nvidia's been on a roll since 2018, with a number of games adding ray tracing support to use with the brand's best graphics cards. With a limited number of titles supporting the feature, however, the past two years have brought lackluster popularity for RTX. Now, Nvidia's promising "hundreds" of games in development with ray tracing, so things could change -- especially with Nvidia announcing today that Fortnite is getting Nvidia RTX support on September 17. 

Fortnite isn't just getting a few ray tracing features here and there; it's getting the full RTX treatment from Nvidia. That includes ambient occlusion, reflections, shadows and global illumination. 

The game is also getting DLSS 2.0 support and the recently announced Nvidia Reflex Latency Analyzer, which helps players to reduce and measure input lag.

Fortnite Ray Tracing 

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Fortnite is getting the whole gamut of ray tracing tech, making it the only game outside of Control to feature all three in one game. It will also be the only game to include all three, plus global illumination, which "adds additional bounced light that is otherwise impossible to simulate in Fortnite," as Nvidia put it. 

Most ray-traced games only feature one ray tracing lighting feature, due to the infancy of the technology and how demanding ray tracing is on Turing-based GPUs. But that's shifting with Control proving it can be done and Nvidia's new Ampere graphics cards. 

Nvidia's RTX 30-series GPUs bring enhancements to ray tracing accelerated performance, so there should be no issues running 3-4 ray tracing features simultaneously.

Fornite will use as many ray-traced reflections as possible. The effect will appear on bodies of water, windows, player character models, weapon effects and more. 

Ray-traced shadows, meanwhile, are a drastic change from Fortnite's default shadows, which are very sharp and offer no softening whatsoever. RTX will allow shadows to be softer and more realistic, changing based on your distance from the shadow. 

The additions of ambient occlusion and global illumination will change how light interacts with objects themselves, and ray tracing them will bring realism to shadows and colors.

"With ray tracing, we can make ambient occlusion shadowing far more accurate, further improving Fortnite’s fidelity," Nvidia claimed. 

RTX Treasure Run

To celebrate the arrival of ray tracing in Fornite, Nvidia's kicking off a new Creative Mode map called the RTX Treasure Run. Gamers will be dropped at the entrance of a new museum and challenged with a scavenger hunt. As you progress through the map, you'll get to see all the ray tracing tech in action through mirrors, jungles statues and more. 

The patch to include RTX support will drop September 17. We'd expect Nvidia to drop a Game Ready driver as well.

  • digitalgriffin
    I always found it curious they would engage RTX on what most competitive gamers would consider a "twitch fest" and strive for highest frame rates possible. A lot of gamers turn eye candy down just so they can get higher frame rates.
    Reply
  • JamesSneed
    digitalgriffin said:
    I always found it curious they would engage RTX on what most competitive gamers would consider a "twitch fest" and strive for highest frame rates possible. A lot of gamers turn eye candy down just so they can get higher frame rates.

    I lot of us turn eye candy down in games to get an advantage by less stuff like smoke, grass etc. Anyhow don't play this game it just didn't interest me at all.
    Reply
  • hotaru.hino
    digitalgriffin said:
    I always found it curious they would engage RTX on what most competitive gamers would consider a "twitch fest" and strive for highest frame rates possible. A lot of gamers turn eye candy down just so they can get higher frame rates.
    I pondered any sort of tactical advantage having ray tracing on would provide. For example
    Seeing the reflection of someone around a corner because there was glass at just the right position and angle, but the guy around the corner doesn't have ray tracing on and so they can't see you
    Shadows and global illumination creating situations were someone without ray tracing couldn't see someone in a shadow, but someone with ray tracing can see someone in the shadow.Of course, I don't see Fortnite having situations like this. But it's still something to think about.
    Reply
  • Chung Leong
    hotaru.hino said:
    Shadows and global illumination creating situations were someone without ray tracing couldn't see someone in a shadow, but someone with ray tracing can see someone in the shadow.

    In theory, RT would let you to see the shadow of someone parachuting in from behind you. You should also be able to see the muzzle flash of other players.
    Reply
  • cryoburner
    Fortnite isn't just getting a few ray tracing features here and there; it's getting the full RTX treatment from Nvidia. That includes ambient occlusion, reflections, shadows and global illumination.
    I'm sure those with high-end graphics cards are going to be thrilled to run the game at sub-60fps frame rates. >_> A lot of Fortnite players are using competitive settings, with most of the graphical options turned down, not only to optimize frame rates, but also to make enemy players easier to spot, so that they're not hidden in the shadows.

    Chung Leong said:
    In theory, RT would let you to see the shadow of someone parachuting in from behind you. You should also be able to see the muzzle flash of other players.
    I'm pretty sure you can already see the shadows of people landing, so long as shadows are enabled. And when players are gliding in, their gliders make sound to let you know that they're coming. The game offers pretty good positional 3D audio over headphones to make it fairly easy to tell what direction things like footsteps and gunshots are coming from, along with indicators on a compass to show the direction of sound sources. There are contrails behind bullets too, all of which would minimize the usefulness of determining where someone is based on muzzle flashes.

    About the only potential benefit I could see would be if you could spot someone's reflection in a shiny surface who was lying in wait, where you couldn't hear footsteps, though that would probably not outweigh the reduced performance for anyone seeking a competitive edge.

    It's fine that they are adding raytracing to the game though, as much of the player base is just playing for fun, though it's questionable how many will have raytracing-capable hardware that can steadily push a decent enough frame rate without cutting the resolution. Something like an RTX 2060 is probably not going to even manage native 1080p reliably with all those effects enabled, if games like Control are anything to go by.
    Reply
  • watzupken
    In my opinion, this is a meaningless enhancement. Competitive players prefer higher frames and refresh rate, over fancy graphics. It may look nice, but I don't think they are looking at the nice sceneries in the first place. While this may be a step in the right direction to improve the game visually, but unless most Fortnite players are using like a RTX 3080, most will just stick to the kiddy/ cartoony graphics to maintain a high framerate.
    Reply
  • Chung Leong
    cryoburner said:
    I'm pretty sure you can already see the shadows of people landing, so long as shadows are enabled. And when players are gliding in, their gliders make sound to let you know that they're coming. The game offers pretty good positional 3D audio over headphones to make it fairly easy to tell what direction things like footsteps and gunshots are coming from, along with indicators on a compass to show the direction of sound sources. There are contrails behind bullets too, all of which would minimize the usefulness of determining where someone is based on muzzle flashes.

    I could be wrong, but I don't think you can see the shadows of characters off screen with standard rasterization. Physically accurate shadows require global illumination.

    Soft shadows tend to expand out a bit more. In theory, you can see someone rounding a corner a few frames sooner. I don't think it'd make a huge difference, but if you think a higher FPS is somehow decisive, then why would you dismiss these visual clues?
    Reply
  • Gillerer
    hotaru.hino said:
    I pondered any sort of tactical advantage having ray tracing on would provide. For example
    Seeing the reflection of someone around a corner because there was glass at just the right position and angle, but the guy around the corner doesn't have ray tracing on and so they can't see you
    Shadows and global illumination creating situations were someone without ray tracing couldn't see someone in a shadow, but someone with ray tracing can see someone in the shadow.Of course, I don't see Fortnite having situations like this. But it's still something to think about.

    Reflections aren't any different than other eye candy, in that they will distract you, make it harder to take in the situation and identify targets. Same as clutter, and noisy and detailed graphics (e.g. Battlefield V).

    Any advantage from seeing enemies in reflections is countered by all the instances where you see something character-sized moving in your periphery, think you got ambushed and flick the gun around, only to find your own reflection. Meanwhile the enemy shoots you in the back. Better trust audio cues instead.

    Furthermore, people going for competitive settings will turn shadows off completely in any game if they can. Especially in Fortnite, shadows off will make enemies stand out even in open field, since the character models aren't shaded darker. It's startling how much easier it is to spot enemies.
    Reply
  • cryoburner
    Chung Leong said:
    I could be wrong, but I don't think you can see the shadows of characters off screen with standard rasterization.
    Sure you can, otherwise you would have shadows suddenly vanishing and reappearing as things move in and out of frame. The main advantage to raytraced shadows is that they can be a bit more realistic, getting softer in a more accurate way the further away they are from the source object. And yes, I checked a video to verify, and you can already see the shadows of other players as they come in for landing, even if they are not in frame.

    You are thinking of some other lighting effects, like screen-space reflections, where they rely on what's been already rendered on-screen, and fade away for more distant objects not in view.
    Reply