Do you remember the announcements and the premiere of Battlefield V? It was the first major game in history to use ray tracing. In this article, we will focus on technical issues. I would like to introduce the subject and break it down into prime factors. How the implementation was carried out and what techniques were used by the developers.
Battlefield V was released in 2018, but until today, after three years, I do not understand its name. Sure, it was supposed to be the purported continuation of what was shown in BF3 and BF4, but why did it come after the BF1 was released? A complete naming mess and many problems contributed to a lot of criticism after the premiere and subsequent release of many different updates.The BFV was a kind of a return to the roots, but with large historical modifications, which not everyone liked. Although he referred to the realities of World War II, he dealt with many topics in a highly fictional manner, with lots of modifications to weapons or available vehicles. Personally, I was much better at playing BF1, but it was BFV that brought a number of revolutions in the subject of graphics and techniques used. It is about them that we will be talking about in this text.
Battlefield V is the first game to use ray-tracing
As I mentioned in the header, it was Electronic Arts that decided to use the benefits of this magical technology and use the full potential of the Tensor and RT cores included in NVIDIA RTX graphics cards. It was an intriguing event, because back then, no one was taking such large implementations seriously, and the most skeptical proclaimed that ray tracing would appear, at best, in a very poor form.However, DICE has shown that a lot more can be done in cooperation with NVIDIA. It was on November 15, 2018, less than a few days after the official premiere of BFV, that a large update for the PC appeared, which implemented the DXR reflection technique with ray tracing. To be able to take advantage of these benefits, we had to have a selected graphics card from the RTX family (2070 or 2080), plus the latest updates for Windows 10 and NVIDIA drivers version 416.94.
The minimum requirements clearly indicated that for comfortable play with active ray-tracing, at least the RTX 2070 GPU will be useful. It was also necessary to switch the API in the game to DirectX 12 and activate the ray tracing technique with a dedicated option. At the time, NVIDIA recommended that grain, chromatic aberration, vignette and lens distortion be turned off for the best results. The DXR reflection quality setting suggested how many rays were used in a given scene at any one time. As you can guess, it was incredibly resource-intensive back then. Even owners of the most powerful NVIDIA RTX 2080 Ti graphics cards could not use the full potential of this feature without significantly lowering the details in order to maintain at least 60 frames per second.
How did ray tracing work in Battlefield V?
At this point, it is worth explaining exactly what techniques the creators have implemented for the BFV. Players probably remember the amazing reflections of shots, explosions or fire in the bodies of the scrapped vehicles, which looked freshly polished in a nearby car wash. Of course, it was a deliberate attempt to present ray-tracing capabilities. Reflections in shafts or puddles realized in real time and much greater realism in the lighting of a given scene significantly improved the immersion during the game. I will also not forget those fantastically realized rifle shots, which beautifully illuminated the entire barrel of the weapon. On powerful computers, the implementation of ray-tracing was very impressive, and the appearance of the game was greatly improved. Anyway, take a look at the photo below, for example.
Ray-tracing in BFV overcame the limitations of using a technique called “Screen Space Reflection,” which was only visible in relation to what the player was currently seeing on the screen. DXR introduced fully detailed reflections of not only the surroundings, but also shots, explosions or silhouettes of soldiers. This was, of course, associated with a gigantic demand for computing power. There was no shortage of regular fixes, and the patch introduced on December 4, 2018 significantly optimized the ray tracing technique, offering up to 50% higher performance on graphics cards from the RTX family – specifically the 2070, 2080 and 2080 Ti models.Just a month later, the owners of the most powerful chips were able to turn on the BFV with the DXR setting to high in the resolution of 2560×1440 and achieve nearly 60 frames per second.
While introducing such a facility to computer graphics was a great undertaking, it was still reserved exclusively for owners of the most powerful (and expensive) graphics cards in the world. NVIDIA decided to do something about it and in 2019 implemented for Battlefield V implementations of one of the best and most perfect proprietary image reproduction techniques ever invented – Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS for short) using extensive neural networks. I have already written about this technology several times in the PPE. Its first iteration may not have been particularly polished, but it allowed to increase the number of frames in BFV with ray tracing turned on by nearly 40%.
So it took six months for NVIDIA to make ray-tracing finally useful and widely available to anyone who bought the latest graphics card – now also from a slightly lower shelf, such as RTX 2060. Battlefield V was played very well, additional The visual effects literally crushed what we could see on the consoles, and the quality of the visuals was so high that the BFV served as a basic benchmark for testing the performance of subsequent GPUs for a long time.The then DLSS version 1.0 allowed to achieve up to 20 frames per second more in one scene, with a rather noticeable deterioration of image sharpness. Nevertheless, if we were to choose between 45-50 FPS in 4K on the RTX 2080 Ti, and have a guaranteed 60 or more, it was clear that the latter option was definitely more attractive. Below you can see a short comparative material, which clearly shows how DLSS 1.0 works.
Quite recently, NVIDIA has already boasted another version of this technology – 2.3, which provides even more spectacular results. For DLSS to work at all, game developers have to put it into the code, but there’s no major problem with that. Both Unreal Engine and Unity (recently) have already built-in special scripts for the application of this solution, which greatly facilitates its implementation. It can be said that the BFV paved the way for the development of computer graphics for the PC a bit and made it possible to extract much more potential from ray-tracing. This was one of the best ray tracing games we’ve seen on the market next to Metro: Exodus.Gameplay on a gigantic map up to 64 players, extended view range, and maximum details in 4K resolution meant that I was often looking for a jaw on the floor. I was lucky enough to see BFV in this quality on a computer composed of a powerful i9 series processor and two RTX 2080 Ti graphics cards. Then, in 2019, so shortly before the premiere of the new generation consoles, I felt the great gap between the powerful PC and the available PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X.
What is particularly important, in the era of problems with the availability of the most efficient graphics chips from the NVIDIA RTX 3080 or 3090 family, customers can buy slightly weaker and much cheaper RTX 3060 cards. They also perform very well in Battlefield V, offering RTX and DLSS with DLSS on. even above 140 frames in 1080p resolution and maximum image quality detail settings. At 1440p, this number drops to about 95-110 frames, and in the case of 4K, we can confidently count on a smooth 60. You have to admit that it makes a big impression. Battlefield V still gathers thousands of players on its servers. The game has already had a lot of downtime, so maybe this is a good opportunity to start your journey through the battlefields of World War II?