In the running to be crowned game of the year at the next Game Awards, Alan Wake 2 is a video game slap, but also a visual one. It must be said that Nvidia offered it all its technological advances on PC.
He will have been waiting, but it will shine better on his return. Alan Wake 2 arrived at the end of October and it is already showered with praise, 13 years after the release of the first part imagined by Remedy Entertainment.
Epic Games’ first successful bet as a publisher, Alan Wake 2 is among the six lucky people who hope to succeed Elden Ring, on December 7 at the Game Awards, as video game of the year. And it even establishes itself as the new visual reference in the video game industry.
Its first trailers amazed players and observers with their breathtaking realism, happily mixing cinematics and images of the game without us seeing the difference. And this has a very clear explanation: the survival horror game takes advantage of technological advances developed by Nvidia to make games even more beautiful and fluid on PC.
Even more realistic lighting
Because the graphics card manufacturer and AI specialist has integrated its full ray tracing technologies, DLSS 3.5 (Deep Learning Super Sampling) into the Northlight Engine designed by Remedy to improve the quality of images thanks to AI, and the brand new path tracing which brings high-level graphics rendering to the game. Essential elements for playing with light and atmosphere in a game like Alan Wake 2.
Ray tracing appeared in video games in 2019 in order to make them more beautiful by adding light management, reflections in windows, glasses, on cars or on the gaming floor. Among the first games to offer ray tracing were: Shadow of the Tomb Raider, A Plague Tale: Requiem, Battlefield V, Metro Exodus, Fortnite, Spider-Man, Resident Evil Village, Call of Duty and more than hundreds now.
Titles which then become even more photo-realistic with ray tracing and the modeling of elements according to different sources of light reverberating on the surfaces. You therefore need good graphics cards (at least Nvidia RTX 2000 which are found in particular in the Xbox Series and PS5 and even better with the latest generation RTX 4000 on PCs). But this is often done to the detriment of the performance of the laptop or consoles (the reason for Performance and Fidelity modes, whether the application of ray tracing or not).
With Control released in 2019, Remedy had one of the finest examples of using ray tracing. Then, Cyberpunk 2077, with the multiple neons and light shows of Night City, became the benchmark for the visual prowess that a game could offer, with the added bonus of DLSS to improve the resolution of the image without losing refreshment and fluidity (a game running in 1080p which appears to be in 4K for example) and to also compensate for the loss of FPS due to ray tracing. AI artificially adds pixels to keep the display looking great.
Improve the image, rebuild it and beautify it
But the reference game title will change shoulders for the new generation. Because Alan Wake 2 sets all sliders to the maximum possible. The Remedy title offers DLSS 3.5, a version further improved with two new technologies: Reflex to reduce in-game latency and Ray Reconstruction which makes everything even more immersive by recomposing the image after having “cleaned” it of small unsightly elements . The graphics will be accelerated in their display on the image, with even more play of light and contrast effects, after the intervention of an AI which has learned to recognize and reconstruct objects with their potential reflections.
And Nvidia is bringing path tracing for the first time (activation of all image enhancement and reconstruction technologies), which upgrades shadows, lighting and reflections which become even richer and more detailed. This explains the acclaimed wow effect ofAlan Wake 2, with an atmosphere very close to the visual effects of cinema between its two worlds.
Light behaves even more naturally with the movements of characters and elements, especially when it is indirect. Alan Wake 2 now simulates up to three possible light bounces in a scene when the initial ray tracing only managed one and Cyberpunk 2077 already boasted of displaying two.
Games relying on all these technologies from their development will undoubtedly be more beautiful and more efficient. However, to take advantage of all this graphic prowess, you will need to play on a PC with GeForce RTX 4000 graphics cards, the only ones capable of offering everything.
A “wow” effect, but not for everyone
With the RTX 4090, the most advanced at the moment, by pushing all parameters to the maximum, it will be possible to play in 4K at 120 FPS, thus multiplying performance by 4.1, NVIDIA says. The GeForce RTX 4080 and 4070 will offer 4K gaming at nearly 80 FPS (x 4.7). In 1440p or 1080p, the number of images per second will also be multiplied by almost 3 on average by activating path tracing. DLSS 3.5 is compatible with all GeForce RTX cards, as is ray tracing.
If the set of Cyberpunk 2077, developed before the appearance of technology, cannot benefit from it, the extension Phantom Liberty is another example of the application of path tracing to beautify a game and Overdrive mode in particular. And the extension of Cyberpunk 2077 as Alan Wake 2 ask you to choose between beauty or in-game performance. DLSS and frame generation which compensates to avoid in-game losses must be activated for a good experience of a game which relies heavily on its visual and artistic impact to highlight its narration and its scenario worthy of Stephen King.
If Nvidia offered its cutting-edge innovations to Remedy, its main competitor, AMD, still has an interesting proposition with FSR 2, equivalent to DLSS 3.5 for upscaling the image. But if your PC has an AMD graphics card, you will not be able to take advantage of all the visual realism technologies, but at least ray tracing.
The future of video games will be undeniably beautiful and it is Nvidia which dictates the tempo to impress. Provided that gamers invest in the latest generation graphics cards. Or subscribe to the in-house GeForce Now Ultimate service which offers all the functions when playing in cloud gaming.
Alan Wake 2 is available on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S and PC via the Epic Games Store.
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