NVIDIA And CDPR Set To Unveil Gloriously Path-Traced Cyberpunk RT Overdrive

cyberpunk 2077 rt overdrive
NVIDIA is hosting an event at GDC 2023 that will discuss the integration of path tracing technology into Cyberpunk 2077's highly anticipated RT Overdrive graphics mode. NVIDIA's senior developer technology engineer Pawel Kozlowski, and CD Project Red's global art director Jakub Knapik will be speaking at the event, showing how path tracing technology can improve the current limitations of real-time lighting, and change the way we think about next generation rendering in AAA games.

Cyberpunk 2077's RT overdrive was originally announced during the launch of the RTX 40 series as a free updated to all Cyberpunk 2077 owners, but the mode never had an official release date and has still not been released to this day. NVIDIA announced the mode would include several more raytracing features, on top of the RT effects already present in the game, including RTX Direct Illumination, Shader Execution Reordering (SER), Opacity Micromaps, and NVIDIA's Real Time Denoisers.

All of these new technologies give RT Overdrive mode much higher visual fidelity and performance in the RT effects that are rendered by the game engine. Boosting the amount of ray bounces from a single bounce to multiple bounces, rendering many of the world objects like neon signs, streetlamps, car headlights and more in RT lighting and shadows. Plus, it renders all RT reflections at full resolution.

With GTC, NVIDIA appears to be upgrading RT Overdrive with RTX path tracing technology, which should improve Cyberpunk 2077's RT effects beyond what RT Overdrive mode originally had. Path Tracing is a different version of ray tracing, that simulates the physics of light itself. The irony is that path tracing uses ray tracing in its lighting simulation, but it is more computationally complex. Rather than just following a single ray from camera to an object and then to a light source, path tracing uses hundreds (or thousands) of rays and calculates how they bounce around the scene to create a better approximation of true lighting effects, including soft shadows and overall global illumination.

NVIDIA doesn't say exactly which RT effects will be enhanced with path tracing, but the GDC announcement says its RTX path tracing technology will deliver pixel-perfect soft shadows and indirect light contribution in fully dynamic environments from all light sources. This suggests NVIDIA and CD Project Red could be overhauling most of Cyberpunk 2077's RT effects with path tracing and introducing new path tracing effects such as RTXGI or RTX Global Illumination into the game.