Cyberpunk 2077 ray tracing - A Visual Revolution 

Cyberpunk 2077 ray tracing – A Visual Revolution 




Cyberpunk 2077 ray tracing has been one of the most talked about graphical features in gaming over the past few years. First announced back in 2018, cyberpunk 2077 ray tracing promised to bring a next generation visual experience through real-time ray traced reflections, shadows, global illumination and ambient occlusion. Now that the game has finally launched, does cyberpunk 2077 ray tracing deliver on that promise or is it all just hype?

A Brief Overview of Ray Tracing Technology

Ray tracing refers to an advanced lighting technique that can simulate the physical behavior of light in digital environments. Traditional rendering uses “tricks” to fake the way light bounces around a scene. But ray tracing tracks the path of light rays as they interact with objects. This allows for much more realistic lighting effects.

Some key benefits of ray tracing include:

  • More accurate shadows and reflections
  • Realistic ambient occlusion and global illumination
  • Improved transparency and translucency effects
  • The ability to simulate complex optical phenomena like refraction

However, ray tracing is also extremely computationally expensive compared to traditional rendering. It requires specialized RT core hardware for usable performance. This is why the technology has been limited to non real-time applications like films until recently.

cyberpunk 2077 ray tracing Implementation

cyberpunk 2077 ray tracing includes support for the following effects:

  • Reflections
  • Shadows
  • Ambient occlusion
  • Diffuse illumination

It utilizes Microsoft’s DirectX Raytracing (DXR) API and Nvidia RTX GPUs. AMD RDNA 2 cards are also compatible.

The game features three presets for ray traced effects:

Preset Effects Enabled Performance Impact
Off None None
Medium Reflections + Shadows High
Ultra All Effects Extreme

Users can also toggle effects individually for more customization.

Visual Impact Assessment

So what does cyberpunk 2077 ray tracing technology actually bring to the table visually? Let’s break down some of the biggest improvements over traditional rasterization techniques:


Ray traced reflections are clearly the standout enhancement in cyberpunk 2077. They render perfect mirror-like surfaces on vehicles, buildings, puddles and more. The reflections accurately portray surrounding geometry, lighting and movement. This adds tremendously to the game’s immersive quality and next generation look.

By comparison, screen space reflections used in traditional rendering are limited in scope, resolution and accuracy.

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Ray traced shadows also exhibit greater accuracy and crispness over their rasterized counterparts in cyberpunk 2077. Small details like diffused skylight and complex occluded intersections are more lifelike.

The differences can be subtle though and likely go unnoticed without a side-by-side comparison.

Ambient Occlusion and Global Illumination

Subtle lighting effects like ambient occlusion and global illumination are also improved with cyberpunk 2077 ray tracing. The enhancement over traditional methods can be difficult to discern however without stopping to actively analyze a scene.

For example, self-shadowing on small objects is more true to life, as bounce lighting gets properly simulated based on surrounding materials. But the gains over standard screen space ambient occlusion are relatively minor in motion.

Performance Considerations

There’s no doubt cyberpunk 2077 ray tracing noticeably improves certain graphical elements. But all the visual bells and whistles come at a heavy performance cost.

With ultra settings, ray tracing can cut frame rates by 50 to 60 percent or more at higher resolutions. Even after recent patches and driver updates, performance is far from optimal. Gamers without top-of-the-line RTX 3080 or 3090 GPUs will likely need to settle for lower resolutions or fidelity to maintain playable framerates.

The medium ray tracing preset provides the best balance between visual benefit and performance impact. But compromises still need to be made.

Future Outlook

cyberpunk 2077 ray tracing proves that real-time ray tracing can meaningfully enhance in-game visuals when implemented properly. As the technology matures and becomes more efficient, we’ll see broader adoption across GPU product lines and gaming titles. By the next generation, ray tracing will become a standard baseline feature rather than an exceptional bonus reserved for high-end hardware.

cyberpunk 2077 itself should also continue to improve optimization and expansions of its ray tracing features. Additional effects like transparent reflections, more ray traced shadows and better ambient occlusion will help the game shine.


cyberpunk 2077 ray tracing sets a new graphical standard with its use of hybrid rasterization and real-time ray tracing. Ray traced reflections and shadows in particular showcase immense potential for more immersive game worlds. But the performance hit versus visual gains debate remains a valid one in many areas. As hardware and software continue evolving, cyberpunk 2077 ray tracing provides an exciting glimpse into the future while still feeling like a work in progress itself. Those wielding top-tier gear can enjoy a visual treat, but more optimization is needed for widespread adoption.


  1. Nvidia. “GeForce RTX Cyberpunk 2077 Ray Tracing Revealed”. 
  2. PC Gamer. “Cyberpunk 2077 ray tracing guide: How to get the best graphics on PC”


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