Rise of the Tomb Raider is getting its fifth patch today, and it's a big one. Developer Nixxes Software says this patch will let the game take advantage of the DirectX 12 API and Nvidia's voxel ambient occlusion (or VXAO) technology.
Nixxes says the move to DX12 will let it "spread our CPU rendering work over all CPU cores, without introducing additional overhead." The developer says that using DX12 will allow RoTR to more effectively feed fast graphics cards with work in visually demanding parts of the game. Using the same scene as a reference on a PC with a GeForce GTX 970, the game ran at 46 FPS in DirectX 11 mode and 60 FPS with DirectX 12. Nixxes is excited about the potential of DirectX 12 asynchronous compute and multi-adapter modes, too.
The arrival of Nvidia voxel ambient occlusion in Rise of the Tomb Raider is a bit more mysterious. Nvidia hasn't documented this feature in its online reference materials yet, but it appears to be a subset of the company's work on voxel global illumination (or VXGI). Voxel global illumination can produce highly realistic lighting effects in a scene, so we'd expect a better-looking ambient occlusion effect in this case. Nixxes says the feature will only work on Nvidia Maxwell graphics cards, and only then in the game's DX11 mode.