In 2015, the first part of Dying Light was released, which successfully combined the idea of survival in a zombie world with parkour. The game was successful and gathered a large army of fans. After several years of active support with the release of additional content, the Techland studio presented a full-fledged second part, which immediately broke into the sales charts. Parkour has become more convenient and spectacular, the presentation of the story is more cinematic, and the world is more interesting to explore. The graphics were brought up to modern standards and even ray tracing was added.
We decided to study in detail the features of ray tracing in Dying Light 2 Stay Human. Let’s evaluate the visual changes in the graphics in different tracing modes and compare the performance using the example of several video cards.
Dying Light 2 Stay Human is based on C-Engine, which is a development of Techland. The game can run in DirectX 11, DirectX 12 and DirectX 12 Ultimate API environments. A high-quality graphics profile without tracing is provided, which by default includes DirectX 11. In DirectX 12 mode, you can additionally enable asynchronous calculations, which should theoretically provide a slight acceleration on modern video cards. In fact, the difference between DirectX 11 and DirectX 12 on current generation solutions is minimal. For ray graphics, there are two profiles — «Ray Tracing» and «High Quality Tracing». Graphics and performance comparisons are made in these three modes.
There are five ray tracing effects in the game:
- Shadows from the sun (soft shadows)
- Shading model (Ambient Occlusion)
- Global Illumination (Global Illumination)
- Light from a lantern
Selecting the normal raytracing profile only activates soft shadows and the advanced trace shading model, and some other parameters are reduced to medium. Obviously, this is a compromise mode with a slight performance drop compared to normal graphics. With a high-quality tracing profile, all effects are active at the highest quality of other parameters.
We compare the picture in several scenes with different graphics settings. The comparison is based on the MSI GeForce RTX 3080 Suprim X 10G video card with a resolution of 2560×1440. Standard tracing quality profiles were used.
Below are screenshots with different settings. It is better to compare them in full format.
Enabling tracing changes the urban location noticeably. In normal raytracing mode, all shadows are enhanced and the display of trees is completely changed. The uneven shading of the branches is better conveyed, but the effect of translucent leaves disappears. There is blurring of shadow contours (noticeable in the right part of the frame) and strengthening of shadows at the junction of objects. In the mode of the maximum quality of ray tracing, the intensity of the shadows is lower, the scene looks softer and more pleasant.
Next, consider an example with evening lighting.
A normal trace will immediately intensify all shadows. At the same time, the perception of the roof covering changes, and the grass looks different. Here, the scene with tracing definitely looks more alive, and the transition to maximum quality brings the picture to the optimal level, when there is a feeling of soft evening light without oversaturated shadows.
For clarity, below is a direct comparison of fragments with normal graphics and high-quality tracing.
With rays, all surfaces are lighter, there is a shine on the glass, the sense of volume in the vegetation is better conveyed. The difference in perception of this scene is significant.
Let’s move on to another example.
Normal tracing blurs the contours of shadows and darkens areas hidden from direct sunlight. Maximum quality adds the effect of reflected light, which makes the scene brighter and closer to the first frame. Unevenness in the lighting of the upper beams, hanging lanterns, boxes and other objects is added, which gives them additional volume. There are also reflections from the light on the glass.
You can evaluate the changes in the scene when switching from normal graphics to the maximum tracing quality using an animated comparison:
The usual tracing mode sometimes gives an ambiguous effect, so you should understand the nuances. The advantages of this mode are clearly visible in the lower comparison with the shadow from a tree.
With rays, the contours of shadows from nearby branches are clearer and blurred from distant ones.
Many scenes look too dark if tracing is active only for Soft Shadows and Ambient Occlusion. Global illumination based on the trace allows you to correct this. As an example, a scene where the effect of global illumination (Global Illumination) is initially disabled at full tracing quality.
As you can see, it is Global Illumination that is critically important for the correct display of shadows. Global Illumination complements Ambient Occlusion, creating realistic scene shading taking into account reflected and indirect light. This eliminates excessive «darkness» and better conveys unevenness in the illumination of objects.
How are you doing with mirroring? Tracing affects puddles, glass, and some shiny surfaces. Does not affect large bodies of water (rivers, etc.) as in Far Cry 6. For clarity, some examples below.
In the nearby puddle, the contours of the surrounding trees appear, and distant puddles in the dark zone lose their luster.
The contours of the surrounding world appear on the dark glass and the reflections on the surface look different.
Next, let’s talk about performance in different modes.
For comparative testing, three video cards of the top segment were involved:
Nvidia solutions are represented by MSI models with improved characteristics.
These video cards are equipped with powerful cooling and work with factory acceleration.
The configuration of the test bench is as follows:
- processor: Intel Core i9-9900K;
- cooling system: be quiet! Silent Loop 280mm;
- motherboard: Asus Rog Maximus XI Formula;
- memory: Kingston Fury Renegade KF436C16RB1K2/32 (DDR4-3600);
- system disk: Kingston SSDNow UV400 480GB;
- additional drive #1: Kingston A2000 NVMe PCIe 1000GB;
- additional drive #2: Kingston KC2000 NVMe PCIe 1000GB;
- case: Antec NX800;
- power supply unit: Antec HCG850 Gold;
- monitor: ASUS PB278Q (2560×1440, 27 «);
- OS Windows 10 Pro x64;
- AMD Radeon Adrenalin Edition 22.2.1 driver;
- driver for NVIDIA GeForce 511.79.
Testing was carried out by repeating a run along a certain route. A location with a mansion and a pool from the prologue was chosen for testing.
Standard High quality profile in normal mode and standard quality profiles with trace included. Nvidia DLSS and AMD FSR scaling technologies are involved in heavy modes.
First, let’s do a little performance research on different APIs. Below is a comparison of three video cards with the same graphics quality in DirectX 11 and DirectX 12.
Almost identical results in the test scene. The GeForce RTX shows a small increase in results in DirectX 12, and the Radeon is better in DirectX 11, but it’s a small difference. Notably, the scene uses less than 4 GB of video memory in the old API, and more than 7 GB in the new API. And in the case of weak video cards with a small amount of memory, definitely choose DirectX 11.
Now let’s look at the performance of each video card in normal mode and with ray tracing.
The older MSI GeForce RTX 3080 produces an excellent frame rate in any mode at Full HD. There is a two-fold drop in performance when switching from normal graphics to a full set of raytracing effects. Video memory download in the most difficult mode exceeds 8 GB.
MSI GeForce RTX 3070 Ti shows excellent results with normal tracing, but with a full set of effects, there may be uncomfortable sags. You can go to a high frame rate with DLSS scaling, but the clarity of the Full HD picture will suffer from this.
AMD’s video adapter does a worse job of tracing than the GeForce RTX 3070 Ti, failing to deliver 60 frames even in normal raytracing mode. AMD FSR scaling will raise the frame rate, but there will still be serious lag in quality mode.
Let’s go to a higher resolution of 2560×1440.
The MSI GeForce RTX 3080 Suprim X 10G easily delivers 100 frames with standard graphics and up to 60 with simple tracing. In order to play with the best beam quality, you will need to turn on scaling. But there is enough high-quality DLSS mode, in which the picture is minimally different from full-fledged 1440p. In the most difficult mode, the game can load the entire memory of the GeForce RTX 3080. Performance losses when switching from normal graphics to Ray Tracing High are up to 2.7 times at minimum values. DLSS Quality provides 60-80% acceleration for the hardest mode.
MSI GeForce RTX 3070 Ti Gaming X Trio is about 30% weaker than its older friend. The quality mode of Nvidia DLSS intelligent scaling extracts such a format with normal tracing, for maximum quality with a comfortable fps, you will have to turn on the balanced mode or put up with periodic drops in performance.
An AMD representative shows a slide show when trying to activate tracing in high resolution. Scaling AMD FSR in quality mode does not save the situation, it is necessary to further reduce the quality. At the same time, AMD FSR Balanced already provides a multiplier of 1.7x, that is, a resolution of 1505×847 at the input, which will provide a full-fledged «soap».
Against the background of the obtained results, it is clear that the 4K format is available only to the most powerful video cards. It will be the final test for the MSI GeForce RTX 3080.
Under normal graphics, the video card barely reached 60 frames. Enabling DLSS Quality provides a 33-50% speedup. The combination of normal tracing and DLSS Balanced allows you to get about 50 frames, for complete comfort you will have to turn on DLSS Performance. Performance in 4K with rays is comparable to Cyberpunk 2077.
Ray tracing has a noticeable effect on the graphics in Dying Light 2 Stay Human. Maximum trace quality nicely transforms scenes with complex shading and lighting, better emphasizing the direction of light and taking into account the effect of reflected light. In places, this significantly enhances the feeling of depth of the frame and gives additional volume to the objects. The reflection path does not affect large bodies of water, only puddles and glass, which is also noticeable in urban scenes. The usual trace profile gives an ambiguous effect due to overly saturated dark shadows. Therefore, the optimal solution will be to stop at the maximum quality of tracing or play in normal mode without rays, if the potential of the video card is not enough.
Tracing requirements are serious, at the level of the most difficult modern games. The Nvidia solution is the best choice for such setups. The tested MSI GeForce RTX 3080 Suprim X 10G and MSI GeForce RTX 3070 Ti Gaming X Trio video cards confidently handle Full HD with active tracing. At high resolution tracing should be combined with DLSS to achieve a comfortable fps. The potential of the GeForce RTX 3080 allows you to use the maximum level of tracing with high-quality DLSS in 1440p format, and in the case of the GeForce RTX 3070 Ti, you will probably have to turn on the balanced DLSS mode or select the optimal tracing parameters. In 4K with rays, the game is able to bring any top video card to its knees, for GeForce RTX 3080 and GeForce RTX 3090 you will have to include the fastest DLSS mode.
On AMD video cards, you can forget about tracing in Dying Light 2. The Radeon RX 6800 XT chokes even in Full HD, requiring scaling to be activated. In the same modes with tracing, the Radeon RX 6800 XT is inferior to the GeForce RTX 3070 Ti by about 40-60%. But the game looks great without tracing. At the same time, the developers ensured compatibility with all video cards thanks to the support of DirectX 11. Therefore, not only owners of top systems, but also owners of budget PCs will be able to enjoy the game.