After yesterday’s announcement from NVIDIA, we finally know what’s coming: the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, GeForce RTX 2080, and GeForce RTX 2070. So naturally, after the keynote in the Palladium venue, NVIDIA provided hands-on demos and gameplay as the main event of their public GeForce Gaming Celebration. The demos in question were all powered by the $1200 GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition, with obligatory custom watercooling rigs showing off their new gaming flagship.

While also having a presence at Gamescom 2018, this is their main fare for showcasing the new GeForce RTX cards. In a separate walled-off area, NVIDIA offered press some gameplay time with two GeForce RTX supporting titles: Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Battlefield V. Otherwise, they also had a veritable army of RTX 2080 Ti equipped gaming PCs for the public, also demoing Battlefield V and Shadow of the Tomb Raider (without RTX features), along with Hitman 2 and Metro: Exodus. Additionally, there were a few driving simulator rigs for Assetto Corsa Competizione, including one with hydraulic feedback. These games, and more, support real-time ray tracing with RTX, but not necessarily Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS), another technology that NVIDIA announced.

NVIDIA RTX Support for Games
As of August 20, 2018
Game Real-Time Raytracing Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS)
Ark: Survival Evolved No Yes
Assetto Corsa Competizione Yes No
Atomic Heart Yes
Battlefield V Yes No
Control Yes No
Dauntless No Yes
Enlisted Yes No
Final Fantasy XV No Yes
Fractured Lands No Yes
Hitman 2 No Yes
Islands of Nyne No Yes
Justice Yes
JX3 Yes
MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries Yes
Metro Exodus Yes No
PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds No Yes
ProjectDH Yes No
Remnant: From the Ashes No Yes
Serious Sam 4: Planet Badass No Yes
Shadow of the Tomb Raider Yes No
The Forge Arena No Yes
We Happy Few No Yes

GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Hands-on: Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Starting with Shadow of the Tomb Raider, I got to play through a platforming puzzling sequence that was amusingly difficult to navigate. I thought I was just bad, but the neighboring gamer fared just as poorly and we ended up trading tips on each successive obstacle. Poor skills aside, the game was rendered in 1080p and capped at 60fps with the graphics settings locked, but I could definitely notice framedrops, even though the gameplay was rather slow-paced.

The game was rendering an outdoors scene, but because of the 1080p quality on a roughly 24” screen, I couldn’t see much of an overall quality improvement. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize until afterward that we had the option of capturing our footage, though honestly I’m glad no one was subjected to a video recording of my gaming incompetence.

Because we only had a certain allotted time, we didn’t get to finish that puzzle sequence, but from a real-time ray tracing perspective, it was hard for me to distinguish any added effects. It appears that this opinion was similar enough to others’ that the Tomb Raider Twitter issued a clarification.

GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Hands-on: Battlefield V

For Battlefield V, the situation was similar with a 1080p 144Hz monitor, playing on the Rotterdam map over LAN. There were framedrops during fast-paced scenes and in general it didn’t seem like it could keep up with the game. Again, there was no FPS info available but the RTX 2080 Ti was almost surely not cranking out constant 60fps. Here, the real-time ray tracing was quite noticeable, with vivid dynamic reflections in puddles, windows, and river. Even at 1080p, those features added to the overall image quality, though the ultimate performance cost was unclear. Framerates aren't a good tradeoff for image quality in fast-paced FPS', though for the record, I’ve always been terrible at shooters (except maybe Halo 2).

While the in-game real-time ray traced footage trailer is obviously putting the game and RTX in the best light possible, there is visible merit in explosions and lighting being reflected where they should. This time around, recorded gameplay footage could not be published until a later date, so words are all we have.

Assetto Corsa Competizione, Custom Models, and GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Photo Ops

Venue-goers try out the racecar rig after my turn is up

I also tried out Assetto Corsa Competizione on the rig with hydraulic suspension feedback, the whole setup being apparently worth over 40,000 euros. Only to find out what I already knew: I can’t drive a racecar (or non-automatics). The game is less intensive than Battlefield V or Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and on that note I didn’t notice any framedrops as I was half-racing half-crashing around the track.

In Gamescom proper, there were a few GeForce RTX 20-series AIB cards on display, including EVGA and Palit/Gainward. The Palit/Gainward representative mentioned their custom cards would be due mid-September, and that they had yet to start shipping, an interesting but unsurprising tidbit considering NVIDIA had just announced a firm date.

With real-time raytracing, games will be able to recreate realistic reflections as seen in bad photos like this one...

...or this one

NVIDIA even had a Gamescom booth with just the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti in a glass display stand, meant for photo ops. People got an NVIDIA RTX T-shirt out of it but it was somewhat amusing to see people line up to take a picture with a graphics card in the middle of a million public gaming demos.

Somehow, I think it would've been more 'normal' to see people take selfies with a graphics card

In any case, I think there are a few relevant takeaways from the hands-on:

  • RTX in terms of real-time ray-tracing is still in development, which is something confirmed by developers themselves for Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Battlefield V;
  • As presented thus far, RTX in terms of both real-time ray-tracing and deep learning super sampling (DLSS) require developer support and implementations may vary between them;
  • As presented thus far, RTX in terms of a technology or a platform is fairly confusing for gamers, because includes a few different technologies like real-time ray-tracing and deep learning super sampling (DLSS), but also provides the namesake for the “GeForce RTX” 20-series and “GeForce RTX” branded games (we will explain all this in detail when the time comes);
  • The demos didn’t clarify apples-to-apples performance differences between the GTX 1080 Ti and RTX 2080 Ti
  • September 20 is a long time to go without third-party objective analysis
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  • Shadyghost - Wednesday, August 22, 2018 - link

    "This obsession with purely visual eye candy is just an extension of the fad for crazy FPS rates. What matters is functionality, immersion is about a believable environment. That door might look awesome, but if it can't be opened (if it's just some fancy texture or whatever), then it's not a door. If an object can't be picked up, then it's irrelevant no matter its appearance. Immersion gets broken any time one tries to do something that isn't possible because the game world doesn't support it."

    I agree wholeheartedly. In fact, I would also add this is more of a benefit to a game when done right than a game without it but which has incredible graphics. A great early example of this for me is Sid Pirates Gold!. As a kid I played the crap out of that game. Not because of the graphics but because there was incredible depth built into incredible mechanics. Actual pirates with accurate flags you could read about in the manual, a living environment with different paths to success, historical ships and places etc. You grew old, could marry or died amassing treasure and retired into a hall of fame for crying out loud.

    I really believe ready tracing will be an amazing addition to the realism of a game, but if a game doesn't have the foundation of what makes a game special (and not many do), it's really just another no man's sky. (I've buried over a hundred his into NMS wishing it had 10% of what makes Crusader Kings 2 amazing)
  • MadManMark - Friday, August 24, 2018 - link

    >I would be far more impressed if falling rain (or from wherever else) could properly accumulate, flow, cause damage, make things rot, affect vehicles, freeze at night, form fog later, etc.

    That is a game software criticism. This is a review of a hardware part and supporting API, and the two have nothing to do with each other.
  • Lolimaster - Wednesday, August 22, 2018 - link

    People are dumb, they pre-ordered blindy. Hours later we knew RTX enable you will get 25-40fps at 1080, near 60fps in some games. And this is with a 2080ti, 2080 got 20% worse RTX performance, you can imagine how mutilated it will be with 2070 and below (720p 30-60fps LOL)

    Actual non RTX performance is around 15-20% over the previous gen.

    1080ti can be found for $650 new, plenty of them, and many fanboys are paying $1200 for 20% over $650

  • piiman - Saturday, August 25, 2018 - link

    "People are dumb, they pre-ordered blindy."

    the only thing dumb about it is you may want to return it later. This isn't a game its HARDWARE and thus returnable in most cases. There is no being blind it's having the insight to buy it and TEST it yourself and if it sucks you/I can return them. Personally I think everyone should do it and leave NV with a S**T ton of returns :)
  • Lolimaster - Wednesday, August 22, 2018 - link

    Nvidia should a new fancy moniker and put the 3080ti at $1999, and 3080 for $1499
  • Lolimaster - Wednesday, August 22, 2018 - link

    Complex effects needs exponential increases from gen to gen. Probably 8x the RTX performance by 2020.

    This is just a proof of concept. Pascal 1.1 in performance.
  • Valantar - Wednesday, August 22, 2018 - link

    "With real-time raytracing, games will be able to recreate realistic reflections as seen in bad photos like this one..."

    I might have low standards for humor, but that made my day.
  • 12345 - Wednesday, August 22, 2018 - link

    Assetto Corsa Competizione could be the one thing that pushes me to buy an RTX card. With over 5000 hours dumped in the first game it might be worth the money. Totally not surprised you couldn't handle it without any experience, only one out of maybe 10 people that have tried my rig could even make it 1 lap at a decent pace without crashing and he has track experience IRL.
  • invasmani - Wednesday, August 22, 2018 - link

    This would be intriguing to know actually. Ray tracing for 3D modeling scales very well from multiple gpu's. If real time ray tracing in games can scale similarly that bodes well. We'll be looking to GPU's with multiple cores akin to Ryzen in the not so distant future. Also with ray tracing you don't need to render a entire scene at once.

    In theory a real time ray tracing API could render different area's of the screen at different real time ray traced FPS limits. Towards the peripheral edges of a ray traced scene in real time could be lower even 15FPS, but as you get closer to the center of the scene and image it could dynamically scale higher towards 60FPS.

    As a example 640x480 might render at 60FPS then a framing around it of 1024x768 would render 45FPS and framing around that at 30fps 1440x900 and framing edging around that at 15FPS 1920x1200.

    Much like this image you'd just see quicker FPS rendering within the image towards the center of it overall in aspect ratio's within a target resolution set to FPS render limits and targets with rendering priority emphasis toward the center of the image and reduced for peripheral vision portion of the image render as a whole.
  • Badelhas - Thursday, August 23, 2018 - link

    These prices are outrageous. I´m out.

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