Last week at Gamescom, Nvidia briefed us on its upcoming RTX 2080 / 2080 Ti, the Turing architecture, and what to expect from the next generation of graphics cards. As part of the event, we were also shown demos of multiple games running with RTX enabled effects. One of those games is Battlefield V, and we were allowed to capture live footage of the game. Unlike previous footage, we were playing the game this time, using ShadowPlay to record the session.
A few disclaimers are in order. First, the settings were locked down, so other than running at 1080p with RTX effects, we can't say specifically what settings are used (likely maximum quality, but this is a work in progress so who knows what that means). FRAPS and other performance metrics were not allowed either, but in general the game appears to run at 50-60 fps averages, with periodic drops. This is an alpha preview of Battlefield 5 with RTX effects, however, so just because there are some framerate drops right now doesn't mean the final product will be quite as prone to such issues.
The game is standard Battlefield fare, set in WW2 and running around a semi-destructible environment. The main showcase for the RTX effects is the reflections and shadows. We've had reflections in a lot of games, but they're approximated using screen space reflections and cube maps—in other words, they're not proper reflections. RTX and ray tracing enables reflections not just of what's present on the screen, but of objects that would not otherwise be visible.
How much do the RTX effects add? It's hard to say without being able to toggle them on and off. The environments do look great, but in a competitive game like Battlefield I think a lot of players will opt for lower quality settings and higher framerates rather than more accurate reflections and shadows. I also want to mention that two days after the initial playtest where we captured this footage, we were shown another demonstration of Battlefield 5 with an updated build. The setup wasn't quite the same (it wasn't a full 64 player match), but in the second demonstration I didn't see any obvious framerate drops.
Real-time ray tracing in games is just getting started, both on the hardware and software fronts. It has the potential to radically change the way a lot of graphics in games is rendered, but it's going to be a gradual process. When Battlefield 5 and other RTX (and/or DirectX Ray Tracing) games come out, it will be in a market still dominated by graphics cards that can't handle the new effects. Games will of necessity have non-RTX / non-DXR modes to increase their potential reach for many years.
Even while current hardware may only manage 60fps (or less) at 1080p with ray tracing, it's easy to imagine future GPUs where ray tracing performance doubles and then doubles again. Ten years from now, even budget graphics cards will likely be able to handle ray tracing, and we need to start somewhere. Nvidia has planted a flag stating that 'somewhere' is now, with its Turing architecture and graphics cards.