Fortnite will be getting ray tracing in an update coming later this week, thanks to a partnership with Nvidia. The partnership was announced earlier this month with a reveal trailer that proudly displayed how the iconic battle royale would benefit from the powerful new rendering technology. The update should bring a new level of realism and visual beauty to the cartoonish shooter.
It seems fitting that Fortnite should be one of the current-gen games to get such a significant visual upgrade. The battle royale is a massive cultural phenomenon, and a significant touchstone even for people who aren't familiar with the video game industry. It's been a massive financial success for developer Epic Games, and it's even given the company the clout it needs to go head to head with Apple in a protracted legal battle over the iOS development space. Almost everyone knows at least something about Fortnite. Cutting edge graphics have never topped the list of things the game is known for, but Fortnite could definitely use the edge in competing with more visually impressive next-gen titles.
Fans will be able to experience what is ostensibly the future of video gaming in Fortnite as early as September 17th, when Nvidia's ray tracing upgrade will finally arrive in the game. The update will bring not only ray-traced graphics, but also Nvidia DLSS, a new system that uses AI to improve physics and animation. It will also add Nvidia Reflex, which should help Fortnite players reduce latency during online play. When the additions drop on the 17th, players will also be able to explore a whole new map designed to highlight the benefits of Nvidia's ray tracing technology, complete with a scavenger hunt.
Ray tracing is already beginning to enter the modern gaming landscape, and it might not be too long before it's a new industry standard. The new rendering method isn't without its disadvantages, though. It might make environments more realistic through the introduction of features like dynamic shadows and accurate reflections, but these benefits come at the cost of a lot of processing power, and there aren't many modern systems that are built to accommodate such a feat. A recent preview build of Watch Dogs: Legion wasn't able to run at 60 FPS with ray tracing enabled, even when it was running on high-end Nvidia hardware. Ray tracing is a powerful thing, but it might be quite literally ahead of its time.
As such, it remains to be seen how this new Fortnite update will fare. While it might be a boon for hardcore fans who can afford the latest, most powerful tech, a lot of casual Fortnite players are more likely to just ignore it. Epic's juggernaut is known for its accessibility, and it's available on almost every system, save for mobile devices thanks to the recent legal trouble. But there aren't many devices that can handle the new tech Nvidia wants to bring. At the end of the day, this might not be quite as big a deal for Fortnite fans as Nvidia wants.