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Guardians of the Galaxy’s ray tracing update tested

One of the biggest features advertised with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S is the fact that they are able to take advantage of hardware accelerated ray-tracing, offering highly realistic shadows, lighting and reflections. Not every game has taken advantage of this feature, however Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy has now retroactively gone back to the recently-released game and added ray-tracing – but not on the Series S.

Square Enix’s Guardians of the Galaxy launched in late October for all currently available consoles – including the Nintendo Switch (though through a cloud version). At launch, the game offered different graphics modes on the current-gen systems – namely PS5 and Xbox Series X. On these devices, players could choose between a 4K and 30fps output, or 1080p at 60fps. At the time, the PC version launched with an exclusive feature: ray-tracing.

Developers Eidos Montreal later confirmed that the PS5 and Xbox Series X would be seeing a ray-tracing mode via  software update. This is update is live, and video game tech analysts Digital Foundry have now tested the new patch – revealing some good and not so good news.

On the PS5 and Xbox Series X, this ray-tracing mode is added as a third option. This means that now, players can choose between a native 4K at 30fps mode, a dynamic 4K with ray-tracing at 30fps, or a 1080p image at 60fps without ray-tracing. Across both the PS5 and Series X the new ray-tracing mode adds a great deal of realism to the game, while offering very few compromises.

According to Digital Foundry, the ray-tracing mode’s dynamic 4K ranges from a native 3840x2160p to a low of 2880x1620p. This drop in resolution in many instances is deemed more than worth it for the addition of ray-tracing – especially as performance-wise, both the Series X and PS5 are able to maintain a solid 30fps.

Unfortunately, the Xbox Series S did not see such treatment. That being said, this latest patch did offer an unlocked frame rate mode for the Series S, allowing the typically 1080p 30fps game to run up to 60fps – though this is rare. Still, the addition of an unlocked frame rate mode provides more options for Series S players, even if the result is inconsistent.

As we enter each new generation, we are seeing more and more long-term support for games, representing a positive move for an industry which at one point would charge full price for a modest resolution bump for new systems. Hopefully this kind of support continues throughout the generation.

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KitGuru says: What do you think of the ray-tracing update? Have you tried it out? Which mode would you use? Let us know down below.

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