It wasn't such a banner year for ray tracing games at E3 2021, at least not compared to the RTX-fest that was E3 2019, but that's not to say there haven't been some very exciting games using ray tracing to crank up the pretties.
Delivering accurate, dynamic lighting, reflections, shadows, and more, ray tracing is set to play a massive part in the stunning games of tomorrow. For today, it finds sporadic use across many of the latest games, generally making everything look a little more gorgeous and true-to-life.
If you've just managed to pick up a brand new Nvidia GeForce RTX or AMD Radeon RDNA 2 graphics card—well done on being a wizard, for starters—you can now crank all those settings up without killing your performance.
So if you're looking to put your new graphics card to the test, or simply for a new game to take for a spin in full ray-traced glory, here's what's on the way from E3 2021.
E3 2021 games with ray tracing
Atomic Heart | Release date: TBA
Atomic Heart has become something of a poster child for RTX functionality, despite a lack of release date. It's just so shiny and chrome. Make sure to check this game out if you really want to test your components out. It's just a shame we don't know how long we'll be waiting for it.
Doom Eternal (ray tracing update)
Doom Eternal (ray tracing update) | Release date: June 29, 2021
Doom Eternal is receiving a major update on Xbox Series X/S later this month, but beyond that us PC players will also receive an update to enable ray tracing in-game. The above trailer from Nvidia shows just how good Doom Eternal looks with ray tracing enabled, check it out.
Far Cry 6
Far Cry 6 | Release date: October 7, 2021
Working with AMD, Ubisoft had already confirmed Far Cry 6 would arrive with ray tracing prior to E3. However, it could be a great test of RDNA 2's ray tracing chops within Radeon RX 6000-series graphics cards when it arrives.
Forza Horizon 5
Forza Horizon 5 | Release date: November 9, 2021
Almost certainly the best-looking game out of E3 2021. Forza Horizon 5 looks gorgeous, and Microsoft is bringing ray tracing to make the cars and Mexican countryside shine. Photogrammetry data also means more detailed, true-to-life 3D models with information collected from real-life objects.
Halo Infinite | Release date: holiday 2021
Halo Infinite won't launch with ray tracing support, but Microsoft has previously confirmed it will come later in a patch.
LEGO Builder's Journey
LEGO Builder's Journey | Release date: 22 June, 2021
LEGO Builder's Journey was announced a couple weeks back at Computex but we'll include it here as it's coming out later this month. It also doesn't get much more ray-traced than this—realism cranked to 11.
Stalker 2 | Release date: April 28, 2022
The Stalker 2 (S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2) release date is still a while off yet. That said, it already looks like it'll be worth the wait. If you're planning to pick it up, expect ray tracing options available in the settings menu.
Watch Dogs: Legion Bloodline (DLC)
Watch Dogs: Legion Bloodline (DLC) | July 6, 2021
Watch Dogs: Legion packs plenty of ray tracing features, and with the arrival of the new Bloodline DLC next month you'll have another excuse to visit ray-traced London.
E3 2021 games likely to come with ray tracing
Battlefield 2042 | Release date: October 22, 2021
Battlefield hasn't yet been confirmed with ray tracing but we suspect it will feature heavily in the next instalment. That's because Battlefield V made a splash at launch with RTX support, which DICE worked with Nvidia to implement.
E3 2021 games we'd love to see with ray tracing
Starfield | Release date: November 11, 2022
We've got our fingers crossed for Starfield—the game certainly shows heaps of promise. It is built on the brand new Creation Engine 2, so we're hoping for support for heaps of DX12 Ultimate features, namely ray tracing. That would set up future Bethesda games for ray tracing support, too, which is an alluring prospect.
Redfall | Release date: Summer 2022
This is a bit of a longshot, Arkane hasn't indulged in ray tracing so far, but if we're creating a wish list of ray tracing-enabled games then the dark, vampire-infested town of Redfall, Massachusetts is right up near the top.