Ray tracing is the lighting technology that defines the look of many modern AAA games. As demanding as they are, most of the best gaming desktops come with ray-tracing capable hardware, allowing you to experience the most graphically demanding technical games that games currently have access.
Just because a game has great graphics doesn’t mean it’s a great showcase for ray tracing. For instance, Hitman 3The ray tracing update was a disappointment. We’ve tailored our list to the games that best showcase ray tracing, so you can use them for bragging rights or just to see what your PC is capable of.
Dying Light 2: Stay Human might be the most graphically advanced game available today (although our next pick gives it a run for its money). It features ray-traced global illumination, ambient occlusion, shadows, and reflections. You can even apply ray tracing to your flashlight, spreading light into dark rooms around you. Like our Dying Light 2 However, the performance guide shows that ray tracing comes at a high cost. Even the best graphics cards will be brought to their knees by Dying Light 2. This is a game clearly designed for future hardware, so it’s a good idea to disable many ray-tracing settings if you can.
Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition is a PC exclusive that goes all-in on ray tracing. Literally. Developer 4A Games replaced each rasterized light source with a ray-traced version, and improved the ray-traced reflection featured in the first build. Needless to say, all of this ray tracing is extremely demanding, so be sure to enable Nvidia’s Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) for the best results. For all the problems Cyberpunk 2077 a, it’s still a downright gorgeous game. Like our top two picks, you’re looking at ray tracing on all levels – global illumination, shadows, reflections, ambient occlusion, and diffuse illumination. Night City comes to life with ray tracing enabled, but it will lower your frame rate (even with a GPU as powerful as the RTX 3090 Ti). You’ll need to enable DLSS for the best experience, and luckily the game supports FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) if you have an AMD GPU.
Control was an early example of the power of ray tracing, and it remains one of the best ray tracing games in 2022. The game has no ray tracing global illumination, but it still comes with highlights, shadows, and even ray-tracing debris. It’s demanding, so Nvidia DLSS is a welcome addition. It’s not as demanding as our top picks, which is great if you’re sitting on a 1080p graphics card.
Minecraft RTX is a novelty – there is no way around it. Similar to Quake II RTX, ray tracing really shines when put against a graphically simple game. You get highlights, shadows, global illumination, and emissive blocks, taking the world of voxels to a whole new level. You’ll need to install an RTX-compatible resource pack to use ray tracing, but the results are stunning. A mobile game like The Lego Builder’s Journey doesn’t seem like an obvious choice to show off ray tracing, but that’s why it’s so brilliant; Ray tracing elevates the game so visually that it’s the perfect showcase. Ray-traced shadows and highlights shine with minor imperfections on the Lego bricks, making each diorama look like it’s pulled straight from the real world.
In the midst of evil is part of the increasingly popular boomer shooter genre – retro-style FPS games inspired by 90s classics like Tremor. In the midst of evil has all the retro trimmings, but the developer puts a modern spin on it with ray-traced highlights and shadows. It doesn’t look like a retro game with superimposed ray tracing; In the midst of evil is more of a style masterclass. You don’t need much to get ray tracing to work either, but Nvidia DLSS is available in case you run into performance issues. It took a year from release to Eternal destiny to receive its ray-tracing update, but the wait was worth it. The game doesn’t have all the fancy ray tracing technology like some of our top picks. Instead, it perfects ray-traced reflections. The game has so many glowing, vibrating surfaces for the light to bounce around, and inverting the reflections brings the hellscape to life (or death, I guess).
Light Memory: Infinite isn’t a great game. It’s a relatively basic shooter with some unique melee mechanics thrown into the mix, and you’ll have it beaten in a matter of hours. Over all, Light Memory: Infinite is a tech demo. It shows off ray tracing at its best, with highlights, global illumination, shadows, and a world design that seems purpose-built for light technology.