Zelda Breath Of The Wild Running At 8K With Ray Tracing Is Absolutely Stunning

zelda 8k rtgi topimage
One of the great advantages of video game emulators is that they allow us to shine up old titles that may suffer due to low resolutions or frame rate limits. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has remained one of the most popular titles to emulate for exactly those reasons: in its original Wii U format, it labors under a 30-FPS cap even despite its 1280×720 render resolution. Under emulation, the resolution can be raised and the frame rate can be unlocked.

Now, it is often said that the most important part of making a good-looking video game is the visual design, not the technology used to represent it. That's probably true, too; if you look at some of the most beautiful classics in gaming history, like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Ōkami, and most of Nintendo's catalogue (both past and current), they still look great to this day despite their dated technology. Zelda: Breath of the Wild is just such a title; it's heavily stylized in a way that does much to mask its low polygon count and small textures.

But dang, if some fancy graphics technology isn't fun to look at. YouTube creator Digital Dreams just posted this video of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild running on the CEMU emulator in 8K resolution, pumping out 60 frames per second. That's 7680×4320, to be clear; it's four times the pixel count of 4K UHD, and sixteen times the resolution of 1080p FHD. Unsurprisingly, they use an overclocked RTX 3090 to achieve this feat.

It's not just the sky-high resolution or improved frame rate that are notable, of course. Indeed, the whole point of the video is to show off Digital Dreams' ReShade preset, called "Beyond All Limits." For those unfamiliar, ReShade is an interceptor library that allows PC gamers to insert custom shader effects into games; the same creators are behind NVIDIA's Freestyle feature that is built into GeForce Experience. ReShade presets don't include any shader programs themselves; the preset simply tells ReShade what shaders to load.

Digital Dreams' preset isn't available to the general public; you have to subscribe to their patreon to get access to it. As a result, we can't tell you exactly what shaders it uses, but as the title of the video mentions "Raytracing GI," we can infer that the preset likely includes Pascal Gilcher's very impressive RTGI shader as well as his RT reflections shader. Don't be fooled; this is "true" ray-tracing, but unlike games using RTX, it's done entirely in screen space, which means that it can't represent objects or lights that aren't visible the way path-traced reflections in Metro Exodus or Battlefield V can.

Still, Digital Dreams' video does look pretty amazing. We won't write a whole tutorial on how to set up CEMU and Breath of the Wild here, but if you own the game and a Wii U the process is legal and fairly straightforward. Meanwhile, you can find ReShade at its creators' website.