Bad news for anyone hoping to play Doom Eternal in all its real-time ray tracing glory when it comes out on March 20th, as id Software's studio director Marty Stratton has confirmed that the team have only just started to look at what they can do with the fancy pants reflection tech. As a result, it's looking increasingly unlikely that Doom Eternal will have ray tracing support at launch, and it could be several months before it's eventually patched in.
In an interview with Digital Foundry at a recent preview event, Stratton said: "So we haven't actually talked about [ray tracing] at all, and we, quite frankly, haven't spent a ton of time [on it]. The team basically did some initial implementation and exploration about a year ago, but at that same time, we had so much that we wanted to do on the game still."
He added: "Our tech team are the biggest fans of new tech, so it was a little hard to pull everyone off of [those early ray tracing tests] because it was the shiny new toy, but when we're talking about getting the game out there, and getting it out to as close to on time as possible and at the highest, polished quality, we had to pull back on those efforts."
It's likely that Doom Eternal will still get ray tracing support at some point in the future, though, as Stratton went on to say that the team are "literally just about ready to start looking at again". He wouldn't put an estimate on how long it might take to see that support come through, as he said the team were still very much at an early ideas stage for how it could be implemented. However, it does sound like it could be a lot more ambitious than the ray tracing tech we've seen in other games so far, such as Control, Shadow Of The Tomb Raider and Metro Exodus.
"There's more that you can use the technology for than just the reflections and the shadows and the real-time lighting and that kind of stuff," Stratton said, but he stopped short of saying exactly what that might look like.
Admittedly, the news isn't wholly surprising. Even when Stratton and his team confirmed that Doom Eternal would indeed have ray tracing support in an interview with Giantbomb at E3 2019, he also said that it wasn't particularly high on their priorities list. Instead, the team were focusing on more important things like overall performance and cross-platform stability, rather than making sure it had ray tracing. Nvidia have never publicly announced anything about Doom Eternal's ray tracing support, either - which is odd, considering they like to make a big song and dance about all their upcoming ray tracing releases.
Either way, it's yet another one of this year's big ray tracing games that won't have its ray tracing support available at launch, giving us one less reason to opt for one of Nvidia's new RTX Super graphics cards as opposed to AMD's excellent, but completely ray-tracing-less Radeon RX 5600 XT and RX 5700 XT cards, for example. Indeed, the only other confirmed ray tracing games due out in 2020 are now Watch Dogs: Legion, and eventually Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 and Dying light 2, but we still don't know whether these will have ray tracing support at launch, either. Minecraft will also be getting ray tracing support at some point this year, but you'll only be able to take advantage of it in the Windows 10 version of the game - and even then I have concerns over how well it's going to run on lower-end RTX cards given my Minecraft RTX demo PC struggled to hit 60fps at 1920x1080 with an RTX 2080 Ti when I previewed the game at the end of last year.
Still, here's hoping we're not left waiting too long for a ray traced Doom Eternal, because judging by RPS video bud Matthew's latest gameplay footage above, id's latest demonic shooter is set to be one hell of a great-looking game.