NVIDIA DLSS 3.5 In Cyberpunk 2077 Is Breathtaking: The Most Advanced Graphics Ever In A PC Game

NVIDIA DLSS 3.5 In Cyberpunk 2077 Is Breathtaking: The Most Advanced Graphics Ever In A PC Game

Cyberpunk 2077’s Update 2.0 is now out for everyone and with it comes support for NVIDIA DLSS 3.5 which ushers in a new era of graphics fidelity.

NVIDIA DLSS 3.5 & Ray Reconstruction Make Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty The Most Breathtaking Game Ever Made!

Ever since Cyberpunk 2077 came out, it has been the benchmark for graphics in next-gen titles. The game was a visual spectacle when it launched, supporting all the latest graphical innovations at the time such as ray tracing which was still very much in its infancy. It’s been almost three years since the first version of the game was released and CDProjektRed has done an absolutely stellar job at overhauling the game entirely.

Prior to today, the game has been a testing ground for all the latest and greatest graphics & visual technologies. Cyberpunk 2077 was the first AAA game to introduce path tracing and also leveraged the latest and greatest upscaling technologies from all vendors including NVIDIA (DLSS), AMD (FSR), and Intel (XeSS). Every iterative update to the game has pushed the graphical fidelity further up and today’s update marks the biggest improvements to the game, not just graphically but to the overall mechanics and gameplay of the game engine. Enter Cyberpunk 2077 Update 2.0!

The Cyberpunk 2077 Update 2.0 is not a refinement of the base game, it’s an entirely new game package that is being offered under the guise of an update. Mix with it the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty expansion which offers a compelling storyline and a whole new section of Night City to explore, and you are in for a truly next-gen Cyberpunk 2077 experience. You should also check out our review of the Phantom Liberty expansion here to know what you can expect in Dog Town!

DLSS 3.5 Just Works With Update 2.0

The update which weighs in at a hefty 55-60 GB is now available and with it, you will get a new setting in the game known as Ray Reconstruction. We already went over the technical deep-dive here but in essence, the Ray Reconstruction technology which is a part of the DLSS 3.5 suite has completely removed denoisers and replaced them with new AI-based algorithms to produce an image that produces better quality path tracing. A denoiser would miss out on some information that would lead to visual anomalies such as ghosting, shimmering, and incorrect diffusion leading to lower image quality but that’s all but resolved in the new DLSS 3.5 update.

The best part is that DLSS 3.5 not only brings Ray Reconstruction support but is supported across all RTX GPUs and also supports the latest DLSS Super Resolution AI framework for much better image reconstruction.

The elimination of these denoisers also means that the engine is less crammed up and has more room to breathe which as a result opens up room for better performance too. We will get to the performance aspect in a bit but for now, let’s talk about how to enable DLSS 3.5 within Cyberpunk 2077.

Firstly, make sure that you have the Update 2.0 installed. Once you are ready, go to the game’s graphics settings where you will find the DLSS menu. For Ray Reconstruction to be enabled, you must first enable DLSS and Toggle the Frame Generation setting to “On”. Ray Reconstruction only works when Frame Generation is enabled. After that, you can Toggle the Ray Reconstruction setting to “On”. You can set any DLSS preset when running Ray Reconstruction with NVIDIA recommending “Performance” mode at 2160p and “Quality” mode at 1440p.

NVIDIA DLSS 3.5 Ray Reconstruction In Cyberpunk 2077: The Comparisons

With Ray Reconstruction enabled you will be all set to see some very nice differences between DLSS 3.5 enabled & disabled.

Path Tracing With Ray Reconstruction:

Path Tracing Without Ray Reconstruction:

For image comparisons, we used four comparison points. First is the standard rasterized image with no ray tracing and the game’s native global illumination renderer. Second, we have the Ray Tracing image with all settings enabled with the third enabling Path Tracing. Finally, the last one includes Ray Reconstruction.

Path Tracing With Ray Reconstruction:

Path Tracing Without Ray Reconstruction:

First and foremost, the biggest improvement in global illumination lighting and shadows can be seen when switching from standard Ray Tracing to Path Tracing. The difference Path Tracing is delivering is leaps and bounds above anything that we have seen yet and Cyberpunk 2077 is the only AAA next-gen game to support this graphically-intensive feature. The difference between the standard rasterized image and Ray Tracing is also quite big but Path Tracing takes it to the next level.

Path Tracing With Ray Reconstruction:

Path Tracing Without Ray Reconstruction:

But with NVIDIA’s DLSS 3.5 Ray Reconstruction technology, you get another refinement on top of Path Tracing, enhancing the visual quality by showcasing better reflective surfaces, better lighting, and better texturing. Shadows are also properly shown. It should be mentioned that you will be able to note subtle differences during the daytime times but the most notable differences are seen during the nighttime or while you are in interiors where there is an abundance of reflective surfaces.

Path Tracing With Ray Reconstruction:

Path Tracing Without Ray Reconstruction:

Shimmering is almost non-existent with the new NVIDIA DLSS 3.5 Ray Reconstruction technology and the lighting accurately blends in with the surfaces. The impact on shadows & lighting quality is so dense in some cases that you might notice that the entire texture has virtually changed but that is not the case, in fact, it’s just the improved lighting and reconstructed image that leads to the new and enhanced surface.

Path Tracing With Ray Reconstruction:

Path Tracing Without Ray Reconstruction:

And like I said, regardless of the time of day, you will be able to note an overall sharper image and better image quality through various metallic surfaces. The tank shown in the example above looks much better with Ray Reconstruction compared to standard Path Tracing since the shadows are correctly shaded and give each component a better look. Also, look how the shadows behind the tank give a softer touch.

Path Tracing With Ray Reconstruction:

Path Tracing Without Ray Reconstruction:

In one example within Afterlife, we noticed that there was rust on one of the surfaces behind the bar when Ray Tracing and Path Tracing were enabled. This rust wasn’t present in the standard rasterized image. With Ray Reconstruction, the AI algorithm removed the rust once again since the lighting in the club didn’t make sense for the rust to be present from this particular angle. The rust was still present but more subtly than it should be with all the surrounding light sources.

Path Tracing With Ray Reconstruction:

Path Tracing Without Ray Reconstruction:

Lastly, we have compiled a range of pictures for you to compare which you can see below (all modes were running the DLSS 3.5 Quality preset):

Path Tracing With Ray Reconstruction:

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Path Tracing Without Ray Reconstruction:

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Ray Tracing Without Ray Reconstruction:

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Standard Rasterization With DLSS 3.5 SS:

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Better Visuals With Even Better Performance

Coming to the performance figures, NVIDIA’s DLSS 3.5 not only enhances the visual quality but also provides better performance. Using an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 and Intel Core i9-13900K setup, I noticed an average 10% performance improvement with the game with some sections of the game even showcasing a 15-18% improvement. The following are the in-game benchmarks with a snippet of the gameplay shown in the videos below:

Native RTOD Cyberpunk 2077 Benchmark Performance:

DLSS 3.1 RTOD / FG Cyberpunk 2077 Benchmark Performance (Quality 4K):

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DLSS 3.5 RTOD / FG Cyberpunk 2077 Benchmark Performance (Quality 4K):

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Note: The press build sometimes sets the DLSS mode to “Auto” when toggling Ray Reconstruction On/Off. This sets the DLSS mode to “Performance” preset but we made sure all of our testing was done with the Quality mode enabled.

In terms of optimization, the game runs fantastic on high-end hardware. I also managed to play with the RTX 3080 Ti and RTX 2080 Ti for a bit and got an average of 38 FPS & 19 FPS, respectively using the Performance preset at 4K. The RTX 4090 was delivered around 75 FPS on average in the same test scenario. We will be adding more tests with different resolutions shortly.

RTX 4090 (DLSS Quality + FG)

RTX 4090 (DLSS Quality + FG)

RTX 4090 (DLSS Quality + FG)

As you can see, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 40 series graphics cards do seem like the best choice for running the game at its maximum potential. The best part is that you aren’t losing anything by enabling Ray Reconstruction. You are making the game faster and more visually immersive and that’s always a plus. I would also recommend that you move your game files over to an SSD drive since Cyberpunk 2077 is a game that can be very taxing on storage devices considering the huge open world it has to render. Plus, the game looks more impressive when you crank up the crowd density and an SSD can definitely help a lot in these scenarios.

Conclusion – DLSS 3.5 Makes Cyberpunk 2077 The Best-Looking Game To Date!

Need I say more? Cyberpunk 2077 was already a visual marvel when it was first released and now it is the best-looking game ever made for the PC platform and that’s all thanks to the folks over at CD Projekt Red and NVIDIA who have collaborated to introduce next-gen technologies within the world of Night City. The visual quality on display within Cyberpunk 2077 is something that cannot be matched by any other game that was recently released. Furthermore, the amount of tech that the Red Engine packs and how it manages to make it work without any major issues on PC is a win in my books.

NVIDIA’s DLSS 3.5 really is the game changer here, offering higher performance and insanely good visual definition across the board. We can’t wait to see more games in the future adopt DLSS 3.5 & Path Tracing technologies. Most importantly, those who have spent countless hours in the world of Cyberpunk 2077 will once again enjoy visiting the game after the new update. Talking for myself, I have spent around 340 hours in two playthroughs and I have already started a new playthrough to try out Phantom Liberty and all the new goodies packed in the new update in the way it’s meant to be played.

Also, it is shocking how well Ray Reconstruction works with modern GPUs. In fact, RTX 30 series owners can also benefit from a performance boost. While Path Tracing is particularly taxing on GPUs, NVIDIA is also working to enable Ray Reconstruction in other RT modes too. That will be impressive and a major win for owners of existing RTX GPUs who can rely on the less taxing RT modes and gain a performance benefit with RR when it arrives.

Currently its only supported in RT Overdrive mode, but we are working to add support for other RT modes in future.

— Jacob Freeman (@GeForce_JacobF) September 20, 2023

The PC platform has been riddled with bad ports and unoptimized games for the entirety of 2023. The CDPR folks have showcased what a labor of love can achieve with their Phantom Liberty and Update 2.0. The game is a visual masterpiece, and I want you all to know that this time, Night City is truly looking breathtaking!

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