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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  • eva02langley - Wednesday, August 22, 2018 - link

    Look genius, even anandtech couldn't see much difference between the huge FPS drop. Nobody playing FPS will use it at that expense if they cannot play the game competitively.
  • Shadyghost - Wednesday, August 22, 2018 - link

    This. Although, it does feel as if they are over-charging for the first baby steps of a new technology. Then again, they are looking at this from a dominant position in the market place with a back stock of last generation cards.
  • piiman - Saturday, August 25, 2018 - link

    "what is with all of the down and disappointed posts here? Yes, it is a $1200 GPU that cant hold a solid 1080p/60 WITH RAY TRACING TURNED ON!!!!!!"

    And you know this how? Marketing benchmarks? Jensen said so? Also when they can do it in 4k give me a call
  • piiman - Saturday, August 25, 2018 - link

    "Know how many fps a 1080 ti can do with ray tracing in a modern game?"
    Don't care I never asked for RT. But let me ask you, how many dev's will implement it without NV paying them to do it?
  • SonicKrunch - Tuesday, August 21, 2018 - link

    Can you confirm the resolution displayed? I see a few places mentioning 1080p, however another site mentions 4k. Jensen said all demos on stage were 4k, so if they were struggling at 1080p, wouldn't you suspect a harder struggle to even show 5-10fps at 4k?
  • SonicKrunch - Tuesday, August 21, 2018 - link

    Sorry to clarify, the sites saying the SotTR was at 1080p couldn't verify that claim other than the statement that the game capture was running "at game resolution" which would indicate 1080p...however other sites mention it was running at 4k. Also can you confirm the monitor you saw was 1080p 144hz and not one of the newer 4k screens?
  • wr3zzz - Wednesday, August 22, 2018 - link

    RTX sounds more and more like HairWorks.
  • Yojimbo - Wednesday, August 22, 2018 - link

    Yeah, it is like a Hairworks that makes major visual quality improvements, has dedicated acceleration hardware, has a DirectX extension designed by Microsoft to support it, and has industry-wide support and enthusiasm among games developers.
  • wr3zzz - Wednesday, August 22, 2018 - link

    LOL, by like HairWorks I meant the early adopter premium is totally not worth the money. The facts on the ground is that until consoles get the horsepower to run them, developers will only use physics (HairWorks) and ray tracing (RTX) as gimmicks rather than differentiators.
  • Midwayman - Wednesday, August 22, 2018 - link

    Do games even do physX stuff anymore or is that just assumed? I remember people buying a 2nd video card to run that. At least this seems to be an implementation of a directX component so it has a chance at getting used. Makes me wonder if Microsoft has something planned for the next xbox. Direct X seems to telegraph the direction they want to move the console anymore.

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