With the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 both confirmed to support hardware-accelerated ray tracing, the work being done with Nvidia's GeForce RTX line of graphics cards gives us an idea of how next-gen consoles could provide an immediate leap in graphical quality that's simply out of reach for current systems. Digital Foundry's analysis of Wolfenstein: Youngblood's new RTX patch provides what might be the best look at these new features yet.
Digital Foundry's Alex Battaglia breaks down all of Youngblood's new features in a companion article for Eurogamer, but the footage captured for his video analysis almost speaks for itself. Just focusing on ray tracing alone, Youngblood turns out to be an incredibly good showcase for the technology.
The first-person view lets Battaglia get up close on the many reflective surfaces in Youngblood's environments, and the side-by-side difference between static cube-mapped reflections and real-time ray tracing could hardly be clearer. On steel walls, marble surfaces, and chromed handrails, you can see the player model and everything else reflected back with impressive fidelity.
Ray tracing is a hardware intensive feature, but on Nvidia's top-of-line RTX 2080 Ti card, Youngblood manages to hit just under 60 FPS at native 4K with ray tracing turned on and all the other settings maxed out. Assuming the known specs of the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 pan out, then we should expect to see games running at 60 FPS with ray tracing enabled, but the real question is whether or not the consoles will regularly target native 4K output over upscaling techniques.
With upscaling tech, Youngblood serves up another promising example: its implementation of Nvidia's deep learning super sampling technique lets it achieve better framerates and, in many ways, equal or better 4K image quality from lower native resolutions. "Games utilizing ray tracing in next-gen consoles would be making a great error if they didn't also utilize image reconstruction," says Battaglia.
Until Microsoft and Sony finally release the full specs for their upcoming consoles, it's still difficult to predict how their games will stack up to titles running on current RTX cards. We're also months away from the release of Doom Eternal, which will mark the debut of id Tech 7 and receive its own RTX patch sometime after launch—in other words, what looks impressive about Youngblood now could easily be outclassed between now and the time ray tracing and other associated features finally reach consoles.