NVIDIA's Day 1 GPU Driver For Alan Wake 2 Claims A Huge 4.7X Uplift With RT And DLSS
Remedy Entertainment's Control was one of the first games to really showcase the potential of real-time ray-tracing with its gorgeous reflections and excellent ray-traced shadows. The company's next game, a sequel to 2010's Alan Wake simply titled Alan Wake II, promises to up the ante in terms of graphics technology by supporting what NVIDIA calls "full ray-tracing", or path tracing.
The second Alan Wake game will also be the second full retail release game to support path tracing, unless you count the awkward Minecraft RTX. Aside from that, there's just been Cyberpunk 2077's RT Overdrive mode, which is very impressive, but it's still just one game. Alan Wake II beautifully represents its Pacific Northwest US setting using the bleeding-edge rendering feature, and looks downright photographic at times as a result.
If you're going to play Alan Wake II on release day—that's this Friday, by the way—you'd better make sure you have the latest graphics driver. Intel says its driver increases performance by up to 22%. NVIDIA didn't give us numbers on how much performance you'll gain from the new driver alone, but says that by making use of its AI-accelerated rendering technologies you can see as much as 470% performance compared to playing without them.
For perspective, that's like taking the game from 17 FPS to 78 FPS, and that's apparently about what you'll do if you enable the full suite of DLSS 3.5 technologies on a GeForce RTX 4070 Ti attempting to run the game at 4K with the settings maxed out. Those features include DLSS Super Resolution, Frame Generation, and Ray Reconstruction, just as seen in the 2.0 update for Cyberpunk 2077.
We already took a look at the system requirements for Alan Wake II, but here's the chart again in case you've forgotten. It looks like if you want to run path tracing, you're going to want a GeForce GPU. That's basically the case in Cyberpunk 2077, as well; the inferior ray-tracing performance of competitors' GPUs simply doesn't lend them to the workload.
Fortunately, contrary to earlier rumors, the game doesn't necessarily require the use of ray-tracing, so folks with just about any reasonably-powerful graphics card from the last 5 years should be able to enjoy the game. Still, you're going to have to make use of advanced upscaling to get acceptable performance, and the game also absolutely requires an SSD.
NVIDIA sent along a chart that shows which ray-tracing features are enabled at which performance preset. As you can see, the Low RT preset doesn't enable path-tracing, and the Medium preset only uses one bounce for global illumination. That's considerably lighter than the two bounces used in Cyberpunk 2077's RT Overdrive mode, so Alan Wake II's "RT Medium" preset might be lighter than people expect.
Images in this post from NVIDIA's Alan Wake II trailer.
However, the full three-bounce path-tracing pass in the "High" setting is likely going to destroy machines. Indeed, Remedy recommends a GeForce RTX 4080 for that mode, yet the actual render resolution goes down, from 2560×1440 (4K "Quality") to 1920×1080 (4K "Performance"). Hopefully the new driver will help improve those fortunes slightly.
Don't panic if you go to NVIDIA's site and don't see the new driver yet, though. It doesn't actually release until October 26th, the day before the game comes out.