Dragon's Dogma 2 has a hidden Path Tracing mode on PC, and it looks incredible

Capcom's Dragon's Dogma 2 is a massive open-world RPG, and on PC the studio was playing around with full path traced lighting - and the difference is huge.

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Capcom's Dragon's Dogma 2, a massive open-world RPG, has been one of the years talked about and played games. On PC, the gameplay has been generally well received; however, poor performance and optimization for Capcom's impressive RE Engine going 'open-world' for the first time is one of the main reasons it's currently sitting on a "Mixed" user rating on Steam.

Dragon's Dogma 2 with full path-traced lighting, image credit: Capcom/Digital Foundry.

Dragon's Dogma 2 with full path-traced lighting, image credit: Capcom/Digital Foundry.

That said, if you're looking for a mod that takes the game visuals to the next level, the Graphics Suite ALPHA mod from EXXXcellent (download it at Nexus Mods) unlocks a hidden developer menu for the game that includes a path-tracing renderer for the game that is not available in the retail version.

Path tracing (also called full ray tracing) covers indirect lighting, global illumination, shadows, and reflections - where anything related to light is ray-traced. Dragon's Dogma already includes RTGI or ray-traced global illumination, but as we can see in Digital Foundry's video on the path tracing mod, the difference is night and day.

Dragon's Dogma 2 with full path-traced lighting, image credit: Capcom/Digital Foundry.

Dragon's Dogma 2 with full path-traced lighting, image credit: Capcom/Digital Foundry.

Dragon's Dogma 2's experimental path tracer leads to better-looking materials, more realistic shadows, and some truly impressive upgrades. Everything from characters to armor to wood textures looks more realistic. The resulting image features a lot of noise due to the mode not being 'final' or a part of the actual game, but the effect still comes across.

As for the performance hit, you can probably take a guess - it can be brutal.

Dragon's Dogma 2 with full path-traced lighting, image credit: Capcom/Digital Foundry.

Dragon's Dogma 2 with full path-traced lighting, image credit: Capcom/Digital Foundry.

On the GeForce RTX 4090, the most powerful GPU currently available, 4K with DLSS Performance Mode goes from 105 FPS without Path Tracing to 42 FPS with Path Tracing (using the setting with four samples per pixel). It's a big hit to the playability and one of the reasons why path-traced games like Cyberpunk 2077 and Alan Wake II feature DLSS 3 Frame Generation.

Watch Digital Foundry's full presentation below.

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Kosta is a veteran gaming journalist that cut his teeth on well-respected Aussie publications like PC PowerPlay and HYPER back when articles were printed on paper. A lifelong gamer since the 8-bit Nintendo era, it was the CD-ROM-powered 90s that cemented his love for all things games and technology. From point-and-click adventure games to RTS games with full-motion video cut-scenes and FPS titles referred to as Doom clones. Genres he still loves to this day. Kosta is also a musician, releasing dreamy electronic jams under the name Kbit.

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