If Cyberpunk 2077 doesn't look pretty enough for your taste, then get a load of this - Nvidia and CDPR will be using four ray-traced effects for maximum realism.
Ray tracing, of course, is the closest we've got to emulating the nature of light but the horsepower it needs is substantial. Thankfully, Nvidia's technology, raw horsepower and some clever optimisation made four effects possible in real-time, and they should do wonders for realism.
Ray-Traced Diffuse Illumination
"This captures sky radiance as well as emissive lighting from various surfaces, which is difficult to achieve with traditional rendering techniques. When enabled, billboards and other illuminated surfaces and objects will brighten their surroundings with naturally colored lighting, and the sun and moon will realistically illuminate Night City", Nvidia wrote.
In the simplest of terms - things that glow will shine their glow onto other things naturally, without any smoke and mirrors used to simulate the effect.
Reflections should sound pretty self-explanatory, but let us dive in deeper for academic purposes. Most games resort to different methods that use pre-calculated reflections and screen-space data, but when out for precision and natural look - ray tracing always wins.
"Unlike screen space techniques that only reflect what’s on screen, ray-traced reflections incorporate the entire scene around the character and can accurately represent objects outside the camera view or facing away from the camera", Nvidia wrote.
Ray-Traced Ambient Occlusion
Nvidia explained that ambient occlusion calculates how exposed a point is to light. This has nothing to do with colour, but with the light and dark relation.
In practice, holes and corners are naturally darker due to less light, and this is calculated with ambient occlusion.
Much like reflections, shadows are often implemented via various shortcuts, but there's no going around them when it comes to realism. After all - we all have one. Unless you ask Jung, then we technically have two, but I digress.
"In Cyberpunk 2077, directional shadows from sun and moon light are added to the game, based on the strength of light, scattering of light through clouds, and other factors", Nvidia wrote.
Nvidia and Cyberpunk 2077 developer also decided to add DLSS 2.0, the former's deep learning neural network that helps produce better frame rates, and should boost ray-tracing performance as well.
You can find Nvidia's post here .