We might be playing games with ray tracing by the end of the year

There has been a lot of discussion about ray tracing lately, stemming from Microsoft announcing the next generation of its DirectX API, called DirectX Raytracing (DXR), coinciding with Nvidia adding ray tracing features to its GameWorks technology. The assumption is that we are getting tantalizing close to ray traced gameplay, and according to Nvidia, it will happen before the end of the year, Fudzilla reports.

Fudzilla says it spoke with Toni Tamasi, senior vice president of content and technology at Nvidia, who confirmed that games with ray tracing will arrive in 2018. No small feat, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang said that ray tracing is the biggest thing for graphics in the last 15 years.

We've already seem some impressive glimpses of what to expect. Epic Games, for example, showed off a couple of real-time ray tracing demos during its annual State of Unreal presentation at GDC, including a Star Wars demo rendered with four Tesla V100 GPUs.

"A decade from now ... you won't be able to tell the difference between the real world and the virtual world," Epic CTO Kim Libreri said.

Other developers are on board as well, such as 4A Games, which showed off real-time ray traced illumination to Metro Exodus using Nvidia's RTX technology.

What's in store for gaming this year won't be quite as dazzling. Ray tracing is a computationally demanding technology, which is why it has eluded games for so long. What we'll see instead is a combination of traditional rasterization rendering with ray tracing bits sprinkled into scenes as needed, and where possible with today's hardware.

Fully ray traced games are still a long ways off, due to hardware constraints. But in the meantime, it looks like we'll get to experience a bit of ray traced gameplay relatively soon.