Some players of CD Projekt Red’s action role-playing game Cyberpunk 2077 will soon have the opportunity to push their PC hardware to the limit when a new update for the game releases later this month, bringing path tracing to Night City Streets shrouded in neon lights. The technology used to add ray tracing to Elden Ring and other games has evolved in recent years, and the update, developed in partnership with Nvidia, promises to drastically improve in-game graphics for players with PCs big enough to run it.
Cyberpunk 2077 launched in 2020, and got off to a rocky start amid a barrage of complaints about technical issues with the long-awaited console and PC release. In the years since launch, developer CD Projekt Red has released numerous patches addressing many of the game’s worst bugs, and the hype around the upcoming Phantom Liberty DLC has grown. One aspect of Cyberpunk 2077’s graphics that has received near-unanimous praise since its release is the gameplay. CD Projekt Red’s brilliant use of lighting and reflections to bring Night City to life is hailed by many as one of the best examples of ray tracing in gaming, along with Remedy’s supernatural shooter Control.
While PC players with sufficiently powerful hardware already have the option to drastically increase the graphical fidelity of Cyberpunk 2077, compared to console players, a new update to the game, developed in partnership with graphics card maker Nvidia, promises to incorporate visuals into the overall different levels. First unveiled at GDC 2023, Cyberpunk 2077’s new Ray Tracing: Overdrive mode will bring path tracing to the game when it launches on April 11. Unlike traditional ray tracing, which only traces shadows, reflections, and lighting from a limited number of light sources, path tracing “accurately simulates light throughout a scene,” according to Nvidia’s statement.
The announcement of the update is accompanied by a short teaser showing the new Ray Tracing: Overdrive Mode in action. While reflections and shadows in Cyberpunk 2077 are already beautiful, this video shows how the new update significantly improves the game’s overall lighting quality. Locations like apartment buildings in the game’s prologue mission look more realistic than ever, thanks to using Nvidia’s RTX Direct Illumination lighting to accurately simulate sunlight passing through blinds, while full-resolution reflections on puddles and windows illuminate the night. The city’s back alleys provide support for a wetter and grimy feel than usual.
PC gamers looking to take advantage of the new update on PC may want to start saving up for the upgrade, as the trailer uses a system running a GeForce RTX 4090 to capture 4K footage. But for those with a PC powerful enough to run it, enabling path tracing back to Night City seemed like the perfect way to pass the time until Cyberpunk 2077’s Phantom Freedom DLC was released.