Hardware Accelerated Ray Tracing is now firmly established in PC with the title Triple, and consoles can now join the party as it is converted to the next generation of Xbox and PlayStation hardware. Watch Dogs: The Lingin is the first DXR-enabled title we’ve seen that also features ray detection features on consoles – which raises the question: How well can new PC machines match existing PC hardware? What kind of compromise is needed to bring RT to the console – and what happens when we resubmit these cuts to the PC version? Let’s just answer that is enlightened.
Instead of a standard system based on a combination of screen-space reflection and cube maps, Watch Dogs Legion in Hardware is used for RT reflection. To illustrate this, cube maps are essentially non-dynamic ‘probes’, capturing the details of the environment and baked in a texture wrapped around a cube – and usually thousands of these are generated in a particular scene, drawn by the game engine when needed. Screen-space captures reflections on-screen, mapping that information to reflective surfaces such as glass walls and poodles. This combination is often convincing enough but is rarely satisfied with reflecting moving objects (like milling around the city) or displaying details that are not currently on the screen. Ray tracing is expensive but solves all of these problems – and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is the best console presentation we’ve seen to date.
Clock Dog: Legane probably lacks the whole RT of insomnia effort but has its own plus points. Unlike Spider-Man, the reflections contain reflections, so the reflection of a burrow on the ground will show reflective features. Also, the geometry of the reflection seems to have the same level of detail and precision as the initial view – Miles Morales has a less accurate ‘RT City’ from which to draw its reflection. However, the implementation of Ubisoft has a lot in common with PS5 Exclusive. The Xbox Series S and X are using stochastic reflections like Insoniac’s technology, so they will produce technically more realistic reflections than other simple types of ray tracing. Also, the ray-finding image in Watch Dogs: Troops are involved in transportation – so the glass materials look very realistic. Simply put, it’s a big upgrade from a visual perspective, especially for a city image rich in reflective surfaces.
Hardware RT is comparatively expensive and at the moment consoles do not have any AI upscalling technology like DLSS that can mitigate performance hits and this presents a problem. Even in my customized settings, the PC version of the Watch Dog: RTX 2060 Super is handling slightly above 30fps in the minimum setting at 1440p internal resolution with Lagon ray tracing when using. The Series X renders with dynamic resolution scaling between 1440p and 2160p, the Series S comes from 900p to 1080p. So how is Ubisoft achieving this? Is it a full-featured RT implementation comparable to a PC? Well, the answer is no – and we know it not only from our tears, but also from the Watch Dog: the Legan PC version, which is rather helpful. All Settings data for each replacement in the game.
Consoles do a lot of behind-the-scenes things to turn off elements that aren’t available in PC game menus, such as disabling headlight shadows on cars, using half-resolution global illumination passes, and reducing shadow quality. There are no high resolution texture packs on top of many other compromises (even the Series X, S’s fare isn’t much worse). For ray tracing, a checkboard rendering method is used on all systems – even PCs – so half-resolution RT reflections on PCs become quarter-resolutions in Series X, which is reduced to 720p in Series S-1080.
In addition to these, lower RT settings also include cutbacks found on PCs – such as reflections of moving particles or projected discs. Meanwhile, screen-space reflection fallbacks are of low quality. The biggest advantage outside of internal resolution is that the rough cut cut basically, in the Series S and X-A, the visual rouger materials – such as Dular metal, marble, polished tiles and others – do not get ray detection reflections and do not easily return to the cube map. In this sense, consoles are lower than PC’s medium (minimum) RT presets. This is really a smart optimization: the lower the reflective surface of the GPU, the less work it will do and the more performance the RT system will have.
Thanks to some modding magic, with the exception of dynamic resolution scaling we can re-import all these additional apps into the PC game. There is also a slight difference in the filtering quality of the RT images, so the PC still remains a touch higher in terms of reliability. However, overall, it’s very, very close. With that in mind, I thought it would be interesting to see exactly what the GPU is to get comparable performance to the Xbox Series X and to do that, I found a region of the game where I saw the Xbox Series X has a comparable resolution below 4K, which Meaning Xbox GPU Saturated. Uploading exactly the same scene to the RTX 2060 Super Native 4K, the GPU has hit 32fps in this view, so it is running above 30fps at a higher resolution than the Microsoft console. In fact, just walking around the world of games to see how good the RTX 2060 Super actually is is to rise above 30fps in native 4K, although I hope dynamic resolution scaling will be needed to get the perfect 30fps lock across all content.
I have moved on from this decision to several conclusions. We see a different level of scaling from AMD’s RT enabled console GPUs. After all, in the non-RT Gears 5, an RTX 2080 seems to be comparable to the Series X, yet here in the Watch Dogs: RT-featured Legion is active, an RTX 2060 Super seems to have more performance. This means that consoles may require reduced resolution, distance, or component settings compared to mid-range PC graphics hardware. Ubisoft accepts all the console compromises and returns them to the PC, I would say it may be a suitable option depending on how the MD RDNA 2 card runs the game.
With Nvidia Tech, there is no need to lower the RT settings to less than moderate – turn on DLSS and you will get back the performance that most hit RTs include. However, that being said, I found the test very enlightening and would like to feature console configurations as an alternative to PC versions – this would be great for our analytics, but more importantly it would only be useful for users who want a simple console – very much about graphical settings. Such an experience without thinking deeply. After all, consoles usually provide the best bang for the buck and tend to transfer all those optimizations to the PC as well.
Of course, it’s important not to take too far away from this early test. After all, it’s just a game – and it’s an introductory title, probably the ultimate non-final tool and ending in a quick window of development with the console API. We’ll go back to Watch Dog: Ligan to investigate the PlayStation 5, but we can provide some spoilers based on in-game config files. They suggest that ‘Prospero’ (PS5’s development codename) features identical settings across the board compared to ‘Anaconda’ (Xbox Series X) and if it does, it may simply be a performance or dynamic resolution scaling standard that separates the two machines. By We will report on this as soon as possible.
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