Guardians of the Galaxy’s RT upgrade adds extra shine to a brilliant game •

Guardians of the Galaxy's RT upgrade adds extra shine to a brilliant game •

The Guardians of the Galaxy surprised more than one this year – myself included – to capture the essence of its characters – to take the humor, eclectic worlds and creatures of comics, movies, and project them in the form of a video game. Just before Christmas, I’m happy to say that developer Eidos Montreal has polished up their work. Patch 1.05 adds new features as well as bug fixes, with ray tracing as the main improvement, significantly improving reflections over the standard quality mode. But what do these RT thoughts actually add, and is there an impact on the rest of the game? After all, hardware-accelerated ray tracing is still a computationally expensive effect. Does something else have to give?

The ray tracing option on PS5 and Series X joins the two existing modes in the graphics menu. There’s still the 4K resolution quality mode for visual purists, running at 30fps. There’s also the 1080p60 performance mode, which still struggles to lock into 60fps, bizarre as that sounds. The new RT mode is what could be described as a replacement for the quality option: it’s still set at 30fps and it still maxes out at 2160p, but the inclusion of RT sees the update window. the dynamic resolution scale expand – so you can expect to see 1620p resolution, for example, in rich battle scenes.

A new take on Guardians of the Galaxy on current gen consoles, with the new ray tracing feature.

RT reflections essentially replace the screen space alternatives seen in quality mode, meaning all relevant details are reflected, not just those within the confines of the screen itself. He also sees all the appropriate materials affected by reflections to some extent. These surfaces even reflect and distort the surrounding environment in a materially correct way. In some cases the reflections are clearer to see while in others they are more diffuse, depending on the surface. In all fairness, the SSR technique in quality mode still holds up quite well and it has always been a respectable workaround. However, there are scenes where the impact of RT is simply transformative. Yes, the resolution may be slightly lower, but that’s hard to tell in practice due to the build-up of detail over time added by the antialiasing of temporal supersampling.

Majority of other visual presets seem unchanged from quality mode. The quality of the foliage is almost identical, while the level of detail transitions also seem to match. That said, the quality of the ambient occlusion takes a hit, matching the lower quality preset used in the performance mode. Still, it’s really the worst compromise to enable ray tracing on the console, and overall you’re still looking at 30 fps locked in with only outlier dips.

Of course, Guardians of the Galaxy came with ray tracing at launch on PC, in addition to a great implementation of DLSS AI scaling – so how do the consoles stack up? The PC offers high, super high, and ultra settings for RT reflections, but there’s also a transparency reflection toggle on top of that which sees reflections projecting onto materials like glass. This is not implemented on consoles, possibly due to performance implications. Standard RT settings see incremental improvements in ray tracing quality on other surfaces as you increase the presets. The consoles offer the equivalent of the PC’s “entry-level” high setting, but the difference between the modes offered is quite limited, so that’s fine.

Our first look at Guardians of the Galaxy really impressed us with the game, but the trim level wasn’t quite where it should have been.

Ray tracing, with all of its perks, is sadly lacking on the S-series. The new patch adds something in that you get the option for unlocked frame rate mode which we understand was in effect. made in the gold master version of the game before being removed in the day one patch. To be clear, we had a 30fps limit before this latest update with the game running at native 1080p, but there was still a lingering feeling that the S-Series could do more, especially in light of the numbers. The Xbox One X’s much higher pixel count. The new update simply offers the option to toggle between an unlocked frame rate or the old 30fps limit.

The frame rate test result is far from solid, but should be a good option for those with VRR-capable displays. The Uncapped S-Series hits 60fps in less grueling scenes around Milan and during interior missions, but in combat you’re in a 40-60fps No Mans Land with occasional dips below. Overall, it’s a good option to have, but I still feel the S-series should do better. Ultimately though, the Xbox Junior provides a solid enough way to enjoy console gaming, but there is a wider gap than expected between the S and X experience.

Looking at Guardians of the Galaxy as a patched package, the new ray tracing mode is a great plus. The only regret is that such a great feature arrived after launch where the first players – including our own John Linneman – had finished the game. The new mode is admittedly interesting and well optimized, but it’s a shame that a mode 60fps locked remains elusive on any console. We hope to see Eidos Montreal return to the game once again to make this crucial improvement to what is already a sensational game.

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