Engineer’s Workshop: Enabling Ray-Traced Shadows in Shadowlands

Engineer’s Workshop: Enabling Ray-Traced Shadows in Shadowlands

With the arrival of Shadowlands, you’ll be able to experience World of Warcraft in greater clarity and definition with the newly added ray-traced shadows feature.

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I love these kind of visual tech upgrades to the game.

Each expansion tends to have a few, whether it’s improved water texture, fire animation, view distance, or whatever.
It’s small things, but the consistency and volume over time makes the game really pleasing to look at, even after 15+ years.

Nvidia has a nice page about the technology as well, frequently asked questions, and so on, which is worth checking out as well for curious minds:


Okay, I’ll give the beta a go and see what it looks like on my 2080ti graphics card.

And what the performance hit is with it on and off framerate wise.

Don’t think it be much with a 2700x, but hey. 4000 series chips coming in a few months so there’s an option there if need be.

People are reporting it’s halfed their frame rate. Can’t see that working out in heavily populated enviroments, However new graphics cards will come out in the furture which will just improve things even more.

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If only enabling RTX didn’t eat away 80% of your framerate.

The slight improvement on shadows is nowhere near worth the performance hit.

Oh boy, can’t wait to get my already garbage fps in the new zones to get halved.

2070 super here and tested on PTR pre patch since im not worthy of the proper beta.
Was in org and it was packed and noticed no drop in performance and i was running at 4k resolution
My RTX was set to the max setting (good it think it is)

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I don’t think that’s the way to look at it.

Most of these technicaly upgrades that have been introduced over the years, they’ve initially been too demanding for a lot of people’s computers. That was the case with the new water texture way back when. It was the case with the improved shadow quality and sunshafts as well.
But over time, as we get better performing hardware it becomes more accessible and ends up being a default option for many.

Hardware has improved a lot over the 15+ years WoW has been around, so it makes sense that Blizzard keeps pushing the game visuals over time. If they didn’t, then we’d all be retro-gaming right now.

Beyond that, it’s also just a matter of taste.
I personally don’t like Ray-Traced Shadows in WoW. I don’t even like the highest Shadows settings that currently exist, because they’re soft and blurry and…realistic? And I much prefer WoW’s visuals to be sharp and have strong contrasts, so I pick the high Shadow setting, which looks artistically more pleasing to me, and fits better with the fantasy world of WoW, in my opinion.

The highest settings aren’t always the ones you may prefer. They’re just the highest settings. And ultimately we’re better off having more settings than fewer settings, because then we can all find something that we like and are capable of running.

Sorry but some of screens You used have shadows turned off, which normally exists in this places - just to show “ray tracing wow” effect". I understand this. Just friendly notice to others who can be baited :wink:

Raytraced shadows look good but I do hope they add more DXR features over time such as global illumination and reflections to push the graphical fidelity even further.

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Pro tip: don’t use highly compressed JPEG images to show off graphics engine improvements.

What about your “Shadow Quality” setting? We now have, in addition to “Shadow Quality”, the new “Ray Traced Shadows” setting. With both of these set to the max, your frame-rate will drop very significantly.

For me, I get the follow frame-rates with a RTX 2070 @ 2560*1080 resolution, in some relatively empty place in Exile’s Reach, looking into the far distance:

SQ Ultra High, RTS Disabled: 132
SQ Ultra High, RTS Fair: 41
SQ Ultra High, RTS Good: 41
SQ Ultra High, RTS High: 39

SQ Ultra, RTS Disabled: 91
SQ Ultra, RTS Fair: 41
SQ Ultra, RTS Good: 41
SQ Ultra, RTS High: 39

SQ High, RTS Disabled: 97
SQ High, RTS Fair: 77
SQ High, RTS Good: 74
SQ High, RTS High: 64

SQ Good, RTS Disabled: 105
SQ Good, RTS Fair: 90
SQ Good, RTS Good: 88
SQ Good, RTS High: 70

I don’t notice a big difference between RTS Fair and Good, so I’m keeping RTS at Fair. The main difference between SQ Good and Ultra High is how far away in the environment shadows get rendered. In open-world areas, SQ Ultra High does look quite a bit more realistic than SQ Good. However, the frame-rate difference between SQ Good and SQ Ultra High is huge: 90 vs 41!

For me, I’m going to test playing with SQ Good and RTS Fair. I still have good frame-rates with that setting (90), and shadows in the close proximity look awesome with it - no more unrealistic hard-edges! I haven’t tried this out in highly populated areas yet.

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Ray Traced global illumination would basically turn the game in a slide show even for the most powerful of PC’s.

Sadly my graphics card is not new enough to experience this :frowning:

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There are some implementations that kind of work. For example

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cant see any diffrence between the screenshots…

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Not impressed.

The types of lighting I’m seeing with raytracing is nothing short of terrible.

All of what I’ve seen so far can be done with pre-baked lighting. There is nothing dynamic about it.

This is kindda cool:

Seems some lights cast a detailed shadow now! But the shadow isn’t actually lining up with the geometry of the object it’s going through.

Unfortunately the light source is statically placed. It does not flicker with the fire.

In some cases a light source provides no shadow at all, and the sunlight is still just generating its one, singular shadow towards the light source.

Given that Im in Revendreth, I didn’t expect this.

Same thing:

Same thing:

Massive glowing light source on my back:

Face is not in shadow, and there is no shadow cast by this obvious giant light.

Using Inky Black Potion in Goldshire and standing next to a lamppost that’s clearly a huge light source. Not generating a shadow:

Inky Black Potion should be the obvious poster-child for ray-traced shadows. But nothing.

Birthday suit under a lamppost in Duskwood. (It’s too subtle with armour on - Pandaren fur, being vibrantly white where we need it to be, makes it easy to see)

Self-shadowing is visible, but it works without RTX anyway, as shown here:

Lighting kills itself when zooming too close, presambly because it’s trying to make itself transparent.

Ardenweald, light source inside an intricate pattern. No raytraced shadows:

This was all taken on an RTX 2080 max-Q.

I don’t know what you’re playing at, but whatever this is, it’s not real time raytracing, let alone good dynamic raster lighting.

All I seem to be getting is ~1/3rd the framerate, and that’s it. There’s a couple static lights that look kindda cool, like in the portal room, but overall… yaikz.

Is it even working? What’s going on?

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Too bad it doesn’t work.

can’t enable it on my 2060 rtx “unsupported for graphic related reasons” even though it should be possible.

It could have something to do with vsync. Pure example - let’s say you’re running WoW at 144fps, vsync on. When you turn rtx on, your PC gets 130fps. But due to vsync, now it has to drop to 72fps or whatever refresh rate the monitor supports. After I discovered the “fast vsync” option in the nvidia control panel, I disabled vsync in all my games, and I always force it through there because it doesn’t half your refresh rate if you can’t support the original fps.