How Gran Turismo 7’s Trailer Uses Real-Time Ray Tracing

Last week’s Gran Turismo 7 trailer had quite a lot to unpack, and we’ve put together a helpful guide to anything that might have slid under the radar.

One thing you probably won’t have missed though was the graphics. For the first time, Gran Turismo will use real-time ray tracing technology — part of a suite of new capabilities of the PlayStation 5 — in order to generate more realistic lighting conditions.

Ray tracing is a technique used to calculate the path that light rays take from a light source and after they interact with objects. This allows not only for accurate reflections but reflections of reflections (inter-reflection). That gives more realistic-looking materials, especially when it comes to glass or reflective surfaces.

However, performing ray-tracing in real time is particularly intensive in terms of processing power. Even a few years ago, it was the preserve of high end computers and still came at a frame-rate cost. While part of the next-generation consoles’ capabilities, there’s still a price to pay — and that means developers must employ a number a tricks to implement it.

Tech analysis website Digital Foundry has pored over the trailer video, and put together a presentation on how Gran Turismo 7 — and other games shown in the PS5 event — might be using ray-tracing while keeping to a locked 60fps at 4K. It’s an interesting insight into the technology and the methods used to extract the best performance possible.

Of course we know that Polyphony Digital has been working on real-time ray tracing in Gran Turismo for a number of years. While GT Sport uses a pre-rendered ray tracing environment, PD has also developed real-time ray tracing for Gran Turismo assets.

This is only the first trailer for Gran Turismo 7 too, so there may be more yet to come from the studio.