Is Ray Tracing Coming to Dota 2?

Dota 2 ray tracing
Is ray tracing the future? (Credit: Reddit/Valve Corporation/Nvidia)

One of the last Artifact updates brought ray tracing into the game files. Could this mean ray tracing will soon be making its way to other Source 2 Valve games?

Valve’s games are some of the most popular ones with titles like CS:GO and Dota 2 making headlines in esports. What about Artifact? It’s the company’s only flop, a game that failed to keep player interest and lost its entire player base.

Artifact was released in November 2018 and in just a couple of months, the game was dead. Later on, Valve announced they’ll be reworking the title for an unknown period of time. In one of the latest updates, there's a good hint that ray tracing.

Just a few days back the Dota 2 client was also updated with some ray tracing files. Both Artifact and Dota 2 are using the Source 2 engine.

What’s Ray Tracing?

For anyone unfamiliar here’s a quick explanation of the technology from an Nvidia blog post:

Ray tracing, which has long been used for non-real-time rendering, provides realistic lighting by simulating the physical behavior of light. Ray tracing calculates the color of pixels by tracing the path that light would take if it were to travel from the eye of the viewer through the virtual 3D scene. As it traverses the scene, the light may reflect from one object to another (causing reflections), be blocked by objects (causing shadows), or pass through transparent or semi-transparent objects (causing refractions). All of these interactions are combined to produce the final color of a pixel that then displayed on the screen.

Nvidia introduced real-time ray tracing technology with their 2000 series graphics cards by adding RT cores, something that’s also present in the new 3000 series. For many gamers, ray tracing is just a marketing ploy from Nvidia. Sure, it makes the world prettier, but it also costs a lot of FPS in some of the heavier titles. AMD didn’t support ray tracing until late 2020 when the company released its RX 6000 series of GPUs.

While ray tracing does make the game look pretty (check Cyberpunk 2077) it comes at the price of FPS. Artifact is a card game and frames don’t matter that much as in a title like CS:GO. But wait, CS:GO is still using Source 1! Fans of the tactical shooter have been expecting a switch to Source 2 and it’s still unclear when it’ll be coming. There's a huge chance that when it actually drops, CS:GO fans will have ray tracing as an option.

Besides Dota 2 and Artifact there are only a handful of other titles using Source 2:

  • Half-Life: Alyx
  • Aperture Hand Lab
  • Dota Underlords
  • Robot Repair

Valve haven’t made any official announcements regarding ray tracing support yet but they’re probably working on it behind the scenes. What’s your opinion on ray tracing? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page or Discord server!

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