Ever since the official unveiling of their RTX 2080 cards on Monday, we've heard nothing but 'ray tracing this' and 'Giga Rays that' - so much so that I can probably now recite 3573 things about their fancy pants lighting equations off by heart. What I can't say 3753 things about is their frame rate performance, mostly because Nvidia have only revealed a small handful of very specific figures so far regarding RTX 2080 vs GTX 1080 benchmarks and I haven't been able to do any independent testing on them, making it nigh-on impossible to tell how they really compare to the rest of today's best graphics cards.
After speaking with Metro Exodus developers 4A Games, however, we might finally have some idea of what to expect when Nvidia's pretty RTX settings are all switched on.
"We're always going to be pushing 60[fps]," rendering programmer Ben Archard told me when I asked if 4A have any kind of performance targets when it came to implementing Nvidia's uber lighting ray tracing tech. "But we'll see what we get. Obviously, there are three cards there and we'll see what profiles we can get for each."
He also confirmed that 4A's 60fps target was with a 1920x1080 resolution as well. "It's 1080p, yes," he said. "That's the goal, but we'll see how it goes."
Of course, there's a lot of time between now and February 22 when Metro Exodus actually launches, and I would hope that 60fps at 1080p would be a baseline performance target rather than its absolute upper limit. Indeed, it would be very disappointing if neither the RTX 2070, RTX 2080 or even RTX 2080Ti could reach the same kind of speed at 2560x1440, if not 4K, but the proof will be in the pudding once I finally get my hands on proper review samples.
Whatever happens, though, you should at least be able to turn RTX off if it ends up being too taxing.
"We're still working on it and haven't set out all the myriad of options yet," Archard continued. "We haven't narrowed that down. But in principal, yes, it's definitely something like [Nvidia's HairWorks]. Yes, you can turn Hairworks on and off, and you can turn any given lighting system off. It's a feature, so yes, you could have a button that goes, 'We're going to switch over to RTX mode now', but it's the same engine running all the time, so it's just, 'Okay, we're going to switch over to traditional global illumination systems, or we're going to switch over to the modern RT GI system. It's an optional feature, but it's a really, really important feature."
Since development is ongoing, Archard also (quite understandably) wouldn't be drawn on how the RTX cards' overall performance compares to Nvidia's current GTX series.
"That's the trouble, we're developing it and optimising it," he said. "We've got an existing engine with the existing systems, so a direct comparison isn't really fair. Yeah, when you first do it and first implement [ray tracing] in a naïve way, it's more expensive, it's slower. But if you optimise, yeah, you can get there. You get it up to frame rate and that's what we've been trying out. Actually saying what the final difference is, I can't, because we've not finished."
For the complete lowdown on what Nvidia's RTX tech means for Metro, have a read of my full interview right here. If you'd rather get on board with more Metro Exodus goodies, though, Brendan has already been hands on with the non-RTX build of the game, where he fell in love with its silly manchildren.