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Developers can make postapocalyptic games beautiful, if the upcoming PC and console shooter Metro Exodus is anything to go by. At the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco this week, studio 4A Games revealed that it is working with Nvidia to bring real-time ray tracing technology into the latest Metro sequel.

Ray tracing is a rendering method that imitates the behavior of light, and it’s something film CGI has used for years. In gaming, however, computing ray tracing in real-time was too computationally expensive — until now. And the results are jawdropping.

In a video released today, 4A is demonstrating just how stunning ray tracing is. The company worked with Nvidia’s RTX tech as well as Microsoft DirectX Raytracing plugin for its graphics API, and instead of building a dedicated tech demo, 4A ended up implementing ray tracing into its next major release.

This gives Metro Exodus gorgeous, dynamic lighting that just works. That’s a change from the old ways of doing things.

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“Previously, we had utilized a mix of several custom-made systems to satisfy our hungry demand for dynamic content of varying scale,” 4A chief technical officer Oleksandr Shyshkovtsov wrote in a blog post. “Now we are able to replace it with one single system that covers all our needs and outputs the quality of offline renderers.”

In the video at the top of the story, you can look for the benefits of ray tracing in the way light bends around objects and reflects off of water. Epic Games, another partner working with Nvidia on RTX, showed a separate example of the benefits of ray tracing in a short film by Disney’s experimental development arm ILMxLab.

This kind of lighting tech could represent a leap forward for photorealistic visuals in video games. And it should also continue to drive the race for more horsepower in next-generation video cards, like Nvidia’s upcoming Volta.

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