Cyberpunk 2077 is set to get the much-awaited “RT Overdrive Mode” in April, enabling Path Tracing to deliver cutting-edge lighting on the fastest GPUs. Unfortunately, most gamers won’t be able to enjoy the upgraded visuals at playable frame rates. According to CD Projekt Red’s Jakub Knapik (Global Art Director), path tracing will be quite taxing on even the fastest hardware, and you’ll need an RTX 40 series card for satisfactory performance.
In addition to the aesthetic appeal, ray-tracing has simplified the game development process. This includes replacing the complex mathematical calculations for ambient occlusion, reflections, and dynamic shadows. These visual effects often need to be tested and verified to ensure they don’t conflict with one another when using alpha channels (transparency) in convoluted scenes.
While ray tracing is much simpler than traditional rasterization techniques, path tracing goes further by introducing multiple ray bounces. The mesh/pixel data collected is considerably more accurate, reducing artifacts and noise.
Path tracing in Cyberpunk 2077 will be implemented on top of NVIDIA’s RTXDI (RTX Direct Illumination) SDK, a single-bounce solution. As seen in Quake 2 RTX, path tracing is especially punishing on modern hardware. Therefore you’ll need advanced upscaling technologies like DLSS 3, mesh optimizations, and Shader Execution Reordering (SER) to get over the various bottlenecks faced by GPUs in path tracing.
In other words, you’ll need to own an RTX 4090, 4080, or 4070 Ti to run the game in Overdrive Mode. The soon-to-be-released RTX 4070 might also do the trick.