Metro Exodus: A playthrough with RT (parts 9-20), concluded and my thoughts on RTX 2060 SUPER.
Updated: Jan 23, 2020
There are 20 videos in the series. You can find the remaining videos, 9 to 20, onmy OneDrive here:
So I thought I'd type a few bits on how I thought the RTX 2060 SUPER graphics card performed during my entire playthrough of Metro Exodus, with RTX. Well first let me say what settings I use for the entire video series.
Game Quality Ultra
RTX Ray Tracing Ultra
Motion Blur Normal
Shading Rate 1.0X
With the above settings, DLSS is using 1440p as the target output resolution, but the game is rendered internally at a lower resolution and 'upscaled' to 1440p using 'Machine-Learning' to alter the image to sharpen it, based on a 'Neural Net' trained by NVIDIA's super-computers, and updated via drivers to the GPU in my PC. The RTX 2060 SUPER's 'TU106' GPU has dedicated matrix-multiplication 'Tensor Cores' of which it uses to run these operations. It's pretty cool stuff in all honesty.
So I am going to speak briefly about how I feel about my first ever experience with RTX Ray Tracing and DLSS.
It's not game-changing (Yet)
At least not in Metro Exodus. This is my honest opinion. Do I think it is a bad thing? No, I absolutely do not, but I will say it didn't blow me entirely away. The game is still beautiful without Ray Tracing, and does run signficantly better without it.
Do I understand the criticisms of NVIDIA's 20-series and the Ray Tracing? Yes. Does that change my opinion on it? No. The Ray Tracing in Metro Exodus is simulating realistic Global Illumination (I.E, the sun and moonlight and their shadows). It uses the technology to create more realistic lighting effects and deeper shadows more realistic to how they would appear in real life. But the game already uses a very effective GI system using raster-based approach, so it's not an overwhelming difference...
But it is there. Some scenes look better than others. I have a couple of screenshots to showcase my observations~
Firstly, I will say I created these images with NVIDIA Ansel, at 7680x4320 (8K) Super Resolution. DLSS is not used here. I have scaled them down to 3840x2160 (4K) for image size restrictions on my website hosting service. That said, you can access the full resolution versions from my Google Drive, here. There are a couple more examples on there, also.
Basically, if you look at the above image, you will get what I mean. The difference isn't 'blowing me away' but it is subtly making the lighting more realistic, in the image above I notice it on the way a given material reacts to the light source. Look at the water to the left of the scene, the colour of the ice next to the water. This, to me, looks more realistic, more 'natural'. Also the ruined concrete structure above it has a deeper shadow where it is not lit as well. And generally, the result is summarised, for me, by saying the lighting is more 'natural'. You can also notice this on the shack to the right of the image.
Is it really worth the price increase.... and the performance hit?
This is a difficult question, because I feel it is subjective. I will answer it honestly: for most people who want to play games? No. It's not worth the price increase for the 20-series and it's definitely not worth the Frame Rate reduction. That's my honest opinion. Do I regret buying the RTX 2060 SUPER video card? No, I don't. But that's down to my passion and interest in graphics technology and microprocessors.
But it's not quite as simple, as me saying that I only like the Ray Tracing and this video card, because I like the technology. The performance, to me, was adequate and I felt it was a positive - if subtle - addition to a very stunningly good looking game, and one of my favourites too. Many people will dislike me, or attack me as they have before, for being OK with 'sub 60' at these resolutions, after having paid the amount this card cost.
The 20-series is the early adopters tax. That's basically it. NVIDIA is pushing the technology because they truly believe it will catch on, and it has to start somewhere. And if you are into realistic visuals and want to see where this is going, and experience it first, the 20 series lets you do that. And hey, let's be honest: the performance in normal games is pretty great too.
What about DLSS?
DLSS is awesome. On paper. I have high hopes that the technology will mature and become very effective, at increasing image quality without the subsequent performance hit. But right now I feel it's similar to the Ray Tracing for me, in that it doesn't blow me away but I see advantages. I also see disadvantages. I will summarise my experience with DLSS in Metro Exodus with the following~
2560x1440 with DLSS looks a lot better than 1920x1080 native, but worse than 2560x1440 native. It also runs significantly better than 1440p native, but only marginly worse than 1080p native, while looking a lot better. Could you get the same effect/performance from a regular up-scaling technology? Probably. But DLSS seems to have a long way to go, and I think the longer the Neural Nets are trained, the better it will be. Unlike a regular upscaling method, DLSS is much more dynamic and has the ability to get a lot better with tweaks and tuning, and learning. Like any 'machine-learning' technology. I am excited to see where it goes but right now it doesn't blow me away.
Performance and Conclusion
You're welcome to watch my entire video series and you can look at the on-screen display, it will show you the performance statistics of my hardware, including the Frame Rate, and then draw your own conclusion from that. For me, the performance was acceptable and almost all of the time playable. As with any game, there were scenes where the frame rate was lower, the most graphically demanding level was the 'Taiga' level, and the Hairworks on the Bear was especially intensive.
Generally, the frame rate was never below 30, and usually above 40. There were a few occasions where I felt the frame rate was uncomfortable, mostly on the aforementioned 'Taiga' (Forest) level, but they are generally few and far between. For me, with my 40 - 60 FPS frame rate target and adaptive sync, this was perfectly playable. And I was willing to trade the 60-locked frame rate for more realistic lighting - it's subjective and that is my opinion.
For most people, £400 on a graphics card for sub 60 FPS (even with enhanced visuals) at upscaled (i.e, not true) 1440p, is probably not acceptable. And let's face it, the price of the 20 series is not that appetizing anyway.
But I enjoyed it. And I'm excited to see where the technology is going, and how the card will handle future games. I will be testing Doom Eternal, Wolfenstein: Youngblood, and Control, in the near future. And more after that, for sure.