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Cyberpunk 2077 is going to become even more unbearable for your graphics card

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Cyberpunk 2077 (opens in new tab) will soon get an update that will push its ray tracing to the next level with the introduction of a new Ray Tracing: Overdrive setting. This was announced as part of Nvidia's RTX 40-series launch (opens in new tab), as Nvidia used the new mode to show off the frame rate capabilities of its new DLSS 3 (opens in new tab) tech. That's good news for anyone that enjoys rampaging through Night City, although it's potentially bad news for your graphics card if the native frame rates are anything to go by.

In a video showing off the improvements that DLSS 3 can make to the performance of the game, the native frame rate can be seen hovering just over 20fps. DLSS 3 does make a massive difference here, boosting this up to 98fps, but that still paints a worrying picture if the mighty RTX 4090 (opens in new tab) barely gets out of the mid-20s without the magic of AI-powered upscaling.

(Image credit: Nvidia)

On the graph showing off the performance of the new cards, Nvidia appears to suggest that the RTX 3090 Ti (opens in new tab), you know, the current fastest card around, managed a quarter of the frame rate of the RTX 4090. Yup, you're back at that 21–23fps again. And according to the blurb at the bottom of that graph, that's whilst using DLSS. Gulp.

So what has Nvidia and CD Projekt Red done to punish our graphics cards in this way? They've turned everything up a notch in the ray tracing rendering pipeline. Specifically, you're looking at:

  • Nvidia RTX Direct Illumination (RTXDI) gives each neon sign, street lamp, car headlight, LED billboard and TV accurate ray-traced lighting and shadows, bathing objects, walls, passing cars and pedestrians in accurate colored lighting.
  • Ray-traced indirect lighting and reflections now bounce multiple times, compared to the previous solution’s single bounce. The result is even more accurate, realistic and immersive global illumination, reflections, and self-reflections
  • Ray-traced reflections are now rendered at full resolution, further improving their quality 
  • Improved, more physically-based lighting removes the need for any other occlusion techniques 

The full-resolution ray-traced reflections are particularly welcome, as that's something that is obvious and jarring even using the psycho rendering mode in the current game. From the short video at the top of the story, it certainly looks like an impressive update. 

Hopefully, this will arrive before the Phantom Liberty (opens in new tab) expansion drops as well, although that isn't due until some time in 2023. We'd imagine the Overdrive patch will launch close to the GeForce RTX 4090 being unleashed on October 12.

Alan has been writing about PC tech since before 3D graphics cards existed, and still vividly recalls having to fight with MS-DOS just to get games to load. He fondly remembers the killer combo of a Matrox Millenium and 3dfx Voodoo, and seeing Lara Croft in 3D for the first time. He's very glad hardware has advanced as much as it has though, and is particularly happy when putting the latest M.2 NVMe SSDs, AMD processors, and laptops through their paces. He has a long-lasting Magic: The Gathering obsession but limits this to MTG Arena these days.