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Why it matters: What we’ve seen of Cyberpunk 2077 looks amazing, with gorgeous graphics and real-time ray tracing, but the prettiness comes at a cost: the PC version will be a DirectX 12-only title. That spells bad news for those with old graphics cards or who still use Windows 8.
The news came from CD Projekt Red’s lead graphics programmer, Marcin Gollent, during an interview with German tech site PC Games Hardware.
Support for DirectX 12, which enables the likes of ray tracing and variable rate shading, was added to Windows 7 last year—despite the venerable OS reaching its end of extended support date in January. Gollent said the company continues to test Cyberpunk 2077 on Windows 7 to hunt down and fix any bugs. The operating system is found on 27 percent of PCs, whereas Windows 8, which does not support DirectX 12, has a 3.5 percent market share.
The other potential problem with DirectX 12 exclusivity is that those with aging graphics cards are out of luck. Anyone with a card from within the last five years or so should be okay, and most of those older than that would struggle to play Cyberpunk 2077, anyway.
Gollent said there were two reasons why the game was made a DirectX 12 exclusive: “Firstly, it is the standard API for the Xbox platforms, and with the game also coming to Xbox One, we naturally wanted to have it implemented as soon as possible. Secondly, it is the birthplace of DXR, and given we had plans to invest in DXR very early on, that made the choice to go with DX12 a pretty straightforward one.”
Focusing on a single graphics API sounds like it could be a good idea, and should allow CD Projekt Red to push DirectX 12 to its limits. But we have seen games ship with DirectX 12 issues in the past, and with no DirectX 11 or Vulkan API support, let’s hope the launch goes smoothly. But given the extra time put into its development, and the fact this will be one of the biggest games in years, it would be surprising if there were any major DirectX 12-related issues.