With ray tracing (opens in new tab) being all the hype nowadays, it’s no surprise that everyone wants a piece of the cake. As such, Wargaming just announced (opens in new tab)this week that it's demoing ray tracing in World of Tanks. And the best part is you don't need an Nvidia RTX graphics card to use it. In fact, you can use any recent graphics card that supports DirectX 11, which includes even integrated laptop (opens in new tab)GPUs. The World of Tanks enCore RT Demo is available now (opens in new tab).
Of course, there has to be a catch, and there is. The ray tracing implementation isn’t quite as extensive as those found in DirectX 12 games with DXR. World of Tanks’ ray tracing is limited to using a software-based implementation that’s meant to improve shadow quality and doesn’t handle further lighting effects. The technique works by tracing a straight line between a visible point on objects and the central light source (the sun) and seeing if there are any interruptions. If there are, a shadow is displayed, and if there aren't, no shadow is displayed.
This is done by using the Embree library made by Intel, which Wargaming collaborated with to implement this form of ray tracing. The Embree library is open source and contains methods for further levels of ray tracing, such as global illumination and more realistic reflections. However, these features would require significantly more rays to be traced along more complicated paths than those for shadows only. That means that it cannot realistically be implemented without turning the game into a slideshow. The shadows will also only be traced from working tanks to minimize the performance impact.
This seems like a case of expectation versus reality. When we think of ray tracing, we expect far more than just improved shadows, but, nevertheless, we cannot fault Wargaming. Their implementation for improving the shadows is indeed, technically, done through ray tracing and should certainly make it look a good bit better.
More information is available in the Developer Diaries video below: