ReShade project may bring path tracing to Skyrim and all other DirectX 9 and later games


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Why it matters: ReShade remains a popular choice among modders for enhancing visuals in various PC games through post-processing and other visual enhancements. Recently, the tool has also incorporated ray-tracing capabilities. The next advancement is the introduction of path tracing, which developers intend to enable for most modern games. This effect resembles Nvidia’s RTX Remix but potentially reaches a broader audience.

Pascal Glitcher, a modder most famously known for introducing a ray-tracing add-on for ReShade, recently demonstrated one that adds path tracing to Skyrim. The plugin supports DirectX 9, 10, 11, 12, Vulkan, and OpenGL in 32-bit and 64-bit, meaning it could let modders and end users tweak path tracing effects for most games from the last 20 years.

Path tracing, a more advanced and computationally demanding variant of ray tracing, has been successfully incorporated as a mod into several retro games, enhancing them with more realistic light and shadow behavior. As of now, Cyberpunk 2077 stands as the only big-budget modern title to adopt this technology, producing impressive yet resource-intensive results.

Nvidia is gearing up to launch a tool suite allowing modders to incorporate path tracing into specific DirectX 8 and 9 games. The company already demonstrated this capability with Portal and The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. Early efforts from third-party modders have shown promising results in games like Half-Life 2, the original Max Payne, and Need for Speed Underground 2. The forthcoming ReShade add-on is expected to expand the use of this technology to a broader selection of more recent titles.

The plugin introduces an effect called “world space path tracing,” utilizing a voxel-like approach to efficiently store geometry and lighting data for the entire scene surrounding the player. This technique ensures that the path isn’t confined to the player’s field of view and avoids screen-space artifacts commonly observed with other graphical effects at the screen’s edges during movement.

In the case of Skyrim, the mod can implement path tracing for the entire town of Whiterun at once, dynamically shifting data in and out of memory as the player moves between map cells. Screenshots indicate Glitcher is also working on compatibility for Control and GTA V, and he stresses that the plugin will work with almost any game.

There is no indication of when the plugin will be publicly available, but Glitcher promised members of his Discord community an early look when it nears completion.


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