We’ve tried ray tracing on smartphones. OPPO has done what others have promised for a long time

If in the West when we talk about “real” games we think of consoles and computers, in the East there is an army of gamers who use a phone as their only console. Most people in China do not have access to a console, even for financial reasons, and the various games on the small screen of the phone are the real source of entertainment.

It is no coincidence that the largest mobile game developers are located in China, and it is no coincidence that in 2020 OPPO began to develop the first ray tracing compatible game engine for the mobile platform. At that time there were no ray tracing processors yet, and the PhysRay engine, that’s the name of the engine, It made full use of the phone’s CPU and GPU with obvious pain.

Then came processors with ray tracing acceleration. The first was Samsung’s Exynos 2200, which brought RDNA2 technology to smartphones for the first time with its Xclipse 920 GPU. The promise is “on hold”, because so far no game has shown that it knows how to exploit this processor, on the contrary, many games work Better on Snapdragon processors, because they’re evolved by adding the various instructions from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Elite Gaming package. Next came ARM, with its Immortalis G715: it also promises hardware ray tracing, but it also, at the moment, has not shown that it can change a sector still attached to “old” technologies, cf. OpenGL.

OPPO immediately realized that there was no point in optimizing its PhysRay game engine for processors that would have extremely low spread, and waited until now when, with the announcement of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, it found the perfect hardware acceleration partner. The first version of its engine was developed through software with great effort.

at the top of the Snapdragon We played with Camp Guard for a few minutesa video game developed by OPPO on version 2.0 of the PhysRay engine in an effort to copy what are the best triple-A video games for consoles.

Similar to Call of Duty, Camp Guard uses over 2,000 physics models and 800,000 polygons, and the demo currently runs at 720p and 60fps. The entire time we were holding the phone, which is a pre-production model with a “fake” shell on it, the game managed to maintain a stable frame rate and a satisfactory operating temperature. This is mainly thanks to Qualcomm’s implementation of Variable Rate Shading (VRS) within the PhysRay 2.0 engine, a system that allows you to balance consumption according to the complexity of the area to be managed.

The trailer is even more impressive than the actual game

how do you see? Ray tracing is certainly present, but the actual game is a far cry from the pre-rendered scenes that were shown during the demos.

In scenes set up to demonstrate ray tracing capabilities, one can appreciate an almost perfect management of shadows and reflections which, however, is lacking later in the game, where ray tracing is only visible on some elements.

The game is not quite like that. Maybe it will be in a few years

There’s a reason: OPPO’s engine is a hybrid, and it was designed to allow game developers to add elements where you can appreciate the management of reflections and lights provided by ray tracing to elements where normal rasterization is used instead.

They wouldn’t let us take a video, but the photo we show below clearly shows how big, almost excessive, a difference there is between the tank and the rest of the scene.

tank It is almost a mirror that reflects all the surroundingswhile ironically, the windows of the vehicle it is attached to are opaque and devoid of reflections.

In the same way, there are shadows computed in real time only for some elements of a scene and not for all, which is the kind of selective ray tracing that’s sometimes confusing.

OPPO decided to distribute PhysRay Engine 2.0 to everyone for free, hoping that it would become the preferred engine for games developed using this rendering method.

Obviously, the hope is that the gameplay will be close to what was seen in the tech demos: Qualcomm’s in-house development studio has shown what it can do by taking full advantage of Vulkan 1.3 and the bees that created it to make the image more realistic, such as a filter that was developed specifically to make it laugh. More realistic shadows effect.

Its presentation, built on Unreal Engine 5, is nothing short of impressive.

Qualcomm also announced that some games will use ray tracing and that in 2023 we will see more and more titles. One of them is Gaijin Entertainment’s War Thunder Edge, and this is the trailer shown below.

More impressive, at least visually, is Justice Mobile by NetEase Thunderfire Studios, although the suspicion remains that what appears in the teaser can reflect what the real game will be like. The graphics look very complicated.

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