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Resident Evil Village Ray Tracing Quality & Performance Impact of Different Settings

Resident Evil Village launched a few days back on PC and consoles to a mixed response from critics. Be that as it may, the game looks pretty good and runs even better. However, the ray-tracing aspect of it is a matter of debate. Many reviewers are calling it “one of the best ray-traced games yet” while others are calling it a “perfect PC port“. While both those claims are partially true, Village is far from being the best implementation of ray-tracing on the platform. In this post, we have a look at how ray-tracing improves the image quality of the game and how much of a performance hit it incurs. We’ll analyze AMD’s FidelityFX Combined Adaptive Compute Ambient Occlusion (CACAO) algorithm and see how it compares to vanilla SSAO.

Resident Evil Village features RTGI (ray-traced global illumination), RTAO (ray-traced ambient occlusion) as well as ray-traced reflections (although these are more or less irrelevant in this game). RTGI is a global illumination (lighting) algorithm that calculates the diffuse lighting in the scene (indirect lighting/rays that light objects after already being reflected once) as well as direct illumination due to the sun, sky, or a light source.

Traditional lighting shaders don’t account for the illumination due to light that penetrates a scene after being reflected once. This is known as indirect lighting or diffuse lighting and tends to be quite intensive due to its recursive nature. Till now, it’s been implemented using voxelization and ray-tracing. There are other methods as well but they aren’t as effective. RTGI is the most accurate as it essentially mimics the natural global illumination phenomena.

Resident Evil Village Ray Tracing on vs Off: Image Comparisons

Here’s a comparison of standard SSAO vs RTGI vs RTGI + RTAO vs CACAO. Keep in mind that SSAO and CACAO can only be enabled when ray-tracing is turned off. With RTGI enabled, the glass containers on the cupboard reflect light (rough specular). Upon turning AO off, the scene becomes slightly darker as light occlusion comes into play. However, by looking at the comparison, it seems like this is a very low-grade implementation of ray-traced AO. The number of rays dedicated to it is likely much less than one per pixel. Try opening the two pictures in different browser tabs and then switching between them if you can’t tell the difference below. 4K shots are attacked at the end of the post.

RTGI + AO
RTGI, No AO
SSAO
CACAO
No RT No AO

The reflection in the puddle (again, pretty low ray-count), as well as specular lighting, disappears when you disable RTGI. Although SSAO is able to handle ambient shading fairly well and CACAO making it even better, neither can account for illumination caused by indirect light rays. Only a few containers on the upper shelves are visible with standard SSAO.

Another important aspect to note here is that the quality (and performance) impact of ray-traced GI will mainly be notable when there are multiple light sources in or around the scene. If the screen is dark with only one light source, then there will be almost no difference between RTGI and SSAO. Take the above and examples:

The reason is that since there is only one light source in the scene very few rays are being cast which minimizes the impact of ray-traced global illumination. Furthermore, the fact that the number of light bounces being utilized here is limited and the number of rays per scene is already low makes it even worse. At the same time, considering the relatively mild performance hit of implementing both RTGI and RTAO, it’s fairly effective in scenes with multiple light sources:

The upper image is with SSAO while the below image shows RTGI in action. The latter is clearly more accurate as it manages to demonstrate the illumination due to the lamp while the former completely misses it. The knife is also more accurately illuminated. Another interesting bit is the ray-traced ambient occlusion:

RTGI+RTAO (top) vs RTGI+ AO Off (bottom)

In scenes like these with multiple light sources (windows), RTGI makes a world of difference, and SSAO is far from being comparable despite the relatively low ray count dedicated to it in the game:

RTGI (up) vs SSAO (bottom)

AMD’s FidelityFX CACAO is a marked improvement over SSAO, but it has its own lofty performance hit similar to HBAO and HBAO+. The performance metrics are in the second half of the article.

CACAO (top) vs SSAO (bottom)

In outside scenes, ray-traced global illumination is once again quite effective in Resident Evil Village. The impact of natural light sources is made quite obvious with the subtle color shift as you switch from SSAO to RTGI. The indirect lighting, albeit low-res, is also quite well implemented. Observe the shadowing with RTGI behind the logs. The scene is much less dark compared to SSAO/CACAO due to the repeated bouncing of ambient light rays being taken into consideration:

RTGI+AO
RTGI + No AO
No AO/NO RT
CACAO

Here’s another similar example:

In most cases, RTAO feels too strong, with RTGI already being more than sufficient to handle the lighting. However, the performance hit too is almost negligible:

The RTGI implementation itself is quite neat. Even if you’re indoors, the scene will still be illuminated by both indoor light sources and outdoor (sun/sky):

RTGI (Top) vs SSAO (bottom)

Graphical Glitches and Bugs

Continued on the next page…

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Areej

Computer Engineering dropout (3 years), writer, journalist, and amateur poet. I started my first technology blog, Techquila while in college to address my hardware passion. Although largely successful, it was a classic example of too many people trying out multiple different things but getting nothing done. Left in late 2019 and been working on Hardware Times ever since.
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