Editor's take: While there have been plenty of "next-gen upgrades" to existing games, very few have provided ray tracing, with most just focusing on higher-resolution assets. So it's nice to see that Rockstar added RT support to GTA V on the PS5 and XBSX in its latest update. Most of the time it looks great, but in some situations, it almost feels like too much reflecting cheapens the effect.
It took a couple of years, but Rockstar finally added ray-tracing support to Grand Theft Auto 5 on the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. The consoles are now more than two years into their lifecycle and are no longer "next-gen," but that doesn't mean that games can't benefit from the extra horsepower.
Most folks play with the graphics set to "Performance" mode, especially in multiplayer. To get nice shiny reflections, you need to switch to "Fidelity" by going to the pause menu. Then select Settings->Display->Graphics Mode. Then press left or right to swap to Fidelity, which turns on full ray tracing. There is also a "Performance RT" mode if you prefer a bit of balance.
It makes a remarkable difference, as shown in the video (above) and screenshots. Reflections coming off windows and water really pop out and have a much higher level of detail. While it looks good, some surfaces seem almost too shiny.
For example, while some people keep a mirror finish on their brand-new cars, most don't. So seeing a detailed reflection in every vehicle you pass seems a bit illusion-breaking to me. Of course, I formed my opinion from second-hand images and videos. I might change my tune after I fire the game up later tonight.
That said, Not feeling like you are a vampire when you walk up to a shop's glass facade is a pleasant change. I always found it strange that I could see the street behind me in a pane of glass but not my own reflection. Reflective is good. Reflective of everything but the player character, not so much.
Ray tracing also makes reflections more accurate in their presentation when viewed from the same angle. In the comparison above, precise path tracing shows the shops neon signage where it is belongs. With RT off, the marquee's fuzzy reflection is way too close to the building (note how just the far corner of the marquee is closer to the camera with RT on). This correction is consistent as you move around.
The other nice thing about the update is that it shows developers are getting more familiar with the new hardware and starting to push it further. This familiarity has always led to higher fidelity and better optimization. So theoretically, we should soon begin seeing more frame-rate consistency when running console games in 4K.
So far, only a couple of dozen titles have taken advantage of the extra power in today's consoles to deliver ray-traced visuals with varying degrees of detail. Spider-Man Remastered, Watch Dogs Legion, and Cyberpunk 2077 are a few examples of games with striking RT implementations. Before long, we should see RT become more or less a standard in AAA titles.