Unreal Engine 4.22 update adds support for DirectX Raytracing

Epic Games, which makes Fortnite, also makes the Unreal Engine that powers it. (Remember when Unreal was more than an engine?) Epic just released the the first preview build of Unreal Engine 4.22, and among a great number of other changes and updates, the new build includes preliminary support for Microsoft's DirectX Ray-tracing (DXR) extensions to the DirectX 12 API.

Nvidia re-created the lunar landing scene in Unreal Engine to prove it wasn't a hoax.

Naturally, to make use of the shiny new graphics hardware, devs will have to be building games for DirectX 12. Likewise, you'll have to actually be building a game—this announcement is simply that developers who are making games using the Unreal Engine can now optionally target a DirectX-12-with-DXR platform.

We're big fans of Nvidia's GeForce RTX graphics cards around here, if only because they offer extremely flat frame-time graphs in existing games at little or no extra cost compared to similarly speedy Pascal hardware. As of today, it's pretty hard to figure the value of the "RTX" part of Nvidia's latest graphics chips because there's simply so little to actually do with them that you can't do on a previous-generation processor.

Upcoming post-apocalyptic open-world game Atomic Heart will have RTX support.

That could all change if DXR starts to gain traction. Support in big software packages like Unreal Engine is only one piece of the puzzle, though. Part of the reason that RTX hasn't had quite the visual impact we might hope in its current implementations is that the scenes in existing software have to be optimized for regular old rasterization, in addition to hybrid rendering. It's unclear if game developers will be willing to optimize their scenes for what is, so far, a vanishingly small part of the market.

Folks who are interested can hit the Unreal Engine forums to read about all the new stuff in the update.

Comments closed
    • jihadjoe
    • 6 months ago

    ZOMG! Nvidia went back in time and faked the moon landings!

      • Krogoth
      • 6 months ago

      Actually, they discovered the Moon is made of pure 100% sharp cheddar. 😉

        • psuedonymous
        • 6 months ago

        And were subsequently chased by a malevolent mobile oven.

      • K-L-Waster
      • 6 months ago

      And all this time we thought it was Kubrick….

      • chuckula
      • 6 months ago

      It’s a well known fact that NASA faked the moon landings by teleporting the astronauts to the Phobos base and having then jump around outside.

    • ronch
    • 6 months ago

    An I the only guy who doesn’t care about realistic graphics? Yes they’re pretty cool as a tech showcase but when I play games I wanna jump into another world, not get more of reality.

      • limitedaccess
      • 6 months ago

      That’s two separate things. Ray tracing itself has nothing to do with whether or not you make an stylized fantasy world or a realistic world similar to real life.

      As an example Pixar movies use ray tracing. Visually those films are far from trying to look like real life.

      • K-L-Waster
      • 6 months ago

      I guess it’s a question of whether you want a gritty photo-realistic fantasy world (Dark Space, Dark Souls, etc.) or do you want vibrant zowie-wow colors (WoW, Fortnite, etc.) Either one could make use of ray traced reflections etc. to improve their graphics. (Or detract from them if done ineptly…)

      I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer as to which style is “better” — it’s a matter of preference.

      • PrincipalSkinner
      • 6 months ago

      Cos nothing resembles reality more than couple of raytraced Storm Troopers.

      • RAGEPRO
      • 6 months ago

      The interesting thing about things like ray-tracing is that improving the realism of the visual simulation increases immersion, even if the world you’re simulating has little in common with reality. Above, limitedaccess already talked about this—go read his post—but the short version is that more realism in the [i<]underlying technology[/i<] is always better.

        • psuedonymous
        • 6 months ago

        Or to put it another way: raytracing enhances [i<]verisimilitude[/i<], not necessarily realism.

      • DoomGuy64
      • 6 months ago

      A3d had the same problem with Wavetracing. Not enough people supported it, Aureal made poor business choices, and creative bankrupted them. Then creative itself went virtually extinct, and software apis have never taken up the mantle. Meanwhile, games like doom are still popular. That just shows we want gameplay over realism, and companies that push realism have to work harder than necessary without any mistakes to keep their technology in the market. VR is the next victim of this, as they fight each other over a niche userbase, when they should be cooperating to expand the userbase, and lower cost to entry.

      Another thing about raytracing: It’s not necessary. Most game developers pre-bake lightsources from a raytraced perspective, and they have been doing this since DOS and even 3dfx. T&L didn’t improve graphics much over gouraud shading, and next gen graphics didn’t truly take off until dx9 and bumpmapping. You can run a lot of dx8 games on voodoo hardware just fine, and that just shows how little those features were needed. Doom3’s dynamic shadows were even previously done in games like Blade of Darkness. It was only bumpmapping, and games like crysis that really moved graphics forward, and even to this day improvements like parallax mapping aren’t widely used. Raytracing is the next T&L, and it’s going to need special care to be relevant as a new technology, and I doubt most developers will spend the resources to make it good or even popular. By the time raytracing gets big, we will likely be gaming on dx13, or some massively improved version that wasn’t renamed to dx13, and even then the old methods will still be viable and even improved on.

    • gerryg
    • 6 months ago

    “It’s unclear if game developers will be willing to optimize their scenes for what is, so far, a vanishingly small part of the market.”

    True that. VR is still on the adoption curve. Pure software makes it easier than a software/hardware solution, but it’s going to take time. Nvidiites buying into the hype need to take a breath and be patient. I bet there will be a whole new 3080 or something like that by the time ray tracing even hints at hitting mainstream.

    • The Egg
    • 6 months ago

    I’d rather see new tech start off by using Vulkan rather than DirectX, but maybe they have their reasons…

      • sweatshopking
      • 6 months ago

      Xbox and large windows install base? as much as the dream of windows free gaming lives on it hasn’t arrived yet, and little shows it’ll be here in the near future.

        • ClickClick5
        • 6 months ago

        Heh, the new Xbox:

        “VULKAN ONLY GUYS! That’s right, we opted to go with Vulkan as the rendering API this time vs DX.”

        Though I could see, possibly, it being used for the PS5, and more in the PC market in the coming years.

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 6 months ago

        All the major GPU makers have vulkan drivers for Windows, so a Windows install base is not a reason to not use vulkan.

      • chuckula
      • 6 months ago

      You mean this: [url<]https://devblogs.nvidia.com/vulkan-raytracing/[/url<] Official API support too: [url<]https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=Vulkan-1.1.85-Released[/url<]

    • Stochastic
    • 6 months ago

    The big question I have with ray tracing is whether Navi will support it given that Navi will form the GPU backbone of next-gen consoles. I’m assuming the answer to that is no, so we’ll probably have to wait at least another console generation before ray tracing supplants rasterization.

      • GrimDanfango
      • 6 months ago

      We’ll have to wait at least another console generation even if they did include it. Raytracing has gone from completely unviable in any realtime context to suddenly being slightly viable as a complementary technology to layer over a still-predominantly raster-based pipeline.

      It’s a big leap forward, but we’re still aaages away from rasterization being “supplanted”.

      • TEAMSWITCHER
      • 6 months ago

      I own a Nintendo Switch console.. Solely to play Breath of the Wild. I can’t find a single reason.. to buy the AMD consoles… NOT ONE!! RDR2 will be ported to the PC .. or I simply will never buy that game. Sorry Rock Star.

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