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Sash thoughts: Comparing Ray Tracing on and Off in Metro Exodus's 'The Two Colonels' DLC.

Update: My good friend (<3) tells me the area where the Ray Tracing is most noticable is in the New Year celebration area. So I will go and do a new video comparing that area! But here is my original thoughts on the Flamethrower scene:


Since I wanted to test how Metro Exodus's DLC, The Two Colonels, ran on my latest Radeon RX 590 (yes I bought another one), I figured I could compare the intro scene with the flamethrower with when I played it on my RTX 2060 SUPER - with Ray Tracing enabled.

I want to keep this short because I've been drinking IRN BRU (Best Brew!) and that stuff has an orange colour additive that is apparently banned in the USA due to how it affects concentration in children. Oh, and it even has a warning on the back of it to that effect... Anyway, Ray Tracing. Uhm, well long story short after playing the intro scene without Ray Tracing, a good 2-3 months after playing (and I only played it once) with Ray Tracing... It gave me the opportunity to judge if I really noticed the difference...


Here is a video I made of side-by-side comparison. Sorry the videos aren't in perfect sync; I played them months apart and was more enjoying the game than trying to showcase the graphics. But I aligned some of the cutscenes so you can compare them.

The original RTX 2060 Super with Ray Tracing video can be found here.

My new RX 590 video without the Ray Tracing is here.


... And the answer to whether I really noticed the difference after this time is no. I didn't. It was only after putting the two videos together and comparing them did I notice the subtle differences associated with more accurate light simulation. Those to me, as I did note in my original assessment of RT in Metro Exodus, lighting seems more accurate and realistic, especially where areas shouldn't be illuminated - think of the RT-based Global Illumination in this game as a sort of realistic Ambient Occlusion.

I re-iterate what I said in my post above, but with slightly more emphasis on the fact that Ray Tracing right now, at least in Metro Exodus and its DLC, is not a game-changing, mind-blowing graphics feature.

I played the DLC without Ray Tracing and it still looked beautiful. Well-done rasterised lighting effects can have 95% of the same 'feeling' but without the performance hit or premium tax for the hardware. That doesn't mean I don't like the Ray Tracing, as when I do notice the differences in the videos, I like what I see. But it's something I want to see come down to more affordable hardware, and be completely vendor neutral.

Vendor-agnostic approaches using well-optimised compute methods such as what we've seen from Crytek and also World of Tanks new RT approach (which uses shader compute in DX11), you can get similar realistic effects without the huge premium tax and/or performance impact. Going forward, I definitely want to see wider adoption of more accurate light simulation - Ray Tracing has huge potential in video games, but I can't help but feel NVIDIA's approach isn't the best, long-term solution.

I'm very excited about AMD's 'Hybrid' approach using optimised software and some hardware implementations together. Either way, I'm by no means regretting the decision to get the RX 5700 - despite not having the Ray Tracing approach Nvidia is using, because I feel that we've got a long way to go before the technology can truly be mind-blowing.

Until we can simulate absolutely every light source in the entire scene, including reflections, shadows, diffusion, Global Illumination, etc - all of it, I'm inclined to think it's just not worth the current premium Nvidia is asking - though I'm still a proponent of the RTX 2060 SUPER; it's a valid choice if you want those subtle effects, and it's not really that much slower than AMD's alternative at the same price (5700 XT), at least not enough to really make a difference in any game.

Thanks for reading ~

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