GameWorks SDK 3.1 adds new lighting and shadow technologies with volumetric lighting, voxel accelerated ambient occlusion, and high fidelity shadows.
Looking at volumetric lighting, it creates much more realistic lighting in a game with the volumetric lighting offered on GeForce video cards looking absolutely beautiful - if the game supports it, that is. In something like Fallout 4, volumetric lighting goes a very long way to making the entire scene look more realistic.
NVIDIA goes to great lengths to make GameWorks the best it can be, offering physically scattered light into GameWorks 3.1. What this does is harness the atmosphere of microparticles that reflect or refract passing rays, for ultra-realistic lighting.
VXAO might just sound like four letters that don't mean much, but it's the highest quality ambient occlusion solution available to PC gamers, and it looks great in games like Rise of the Tomb Raider.
The world-space algorithm provides better image quality, smoother response to camera motion, finer details, and greater accuracy than screen-space solutions. VXAO works on both DX11 and DX12, too.
The difference between screen-space AO channel and VXAO is massive, with the perfect comparison below.
SSAO vs. VXAO
NVIDIA provided some screenshots of Rise of the Tomb Raider, comparing SSAO against VXAO so that you can see the difference. It's subtle, but it really adds to the scene overall. Check out these screenshots:
Starting with no AO, the scene looks okay - but only because it's the first screenshot and this is establishing a baseline. Next, we'll take a look at SSAO.
With SSAO enabled in Rise of the Tomb Raider, the shadowing on both the characters looks vastly improved.
Finally, with VXAO enabled, we can see it's decent jump from SSAO - the shadows are much darker and more detailed. You can see that the shadows underneath the character laying on the snow are definitely more pronounced.
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