Just yesterday, developer FromSoftware rolled out a new Elden Ring update that introduced ray tracing (RTX). It’s been a highly requested feature since the game’s February 25, 2022 launch. Unfortunately, just hours after patch 1.09 dropped, RTX is breaking the popular Soulslike in all kinds of ways, from crashing the game to tanking its frame rate, and folks aren’t too happy about it.
RTX is a technique that renders more realistic lighting. It also smoothes reflections, shadows, and textures to provide a more lifelike illustration of how real light interacts with digital objects. If you’ve played Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart or Spider-Man: Miles Morales on PS5, not to mention any number of fairly recent games on PC, then you’ve got a good idea of how RTX performs on modern hardware. It can sometimes seem negligible, especially if you’re blind like myself, but for those who can point it out, RTX produces some stunning visuals with regard to reflections and shadows that can make environments feel more immersive and believable. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, for instance, with its RTX update in December 2022, had more depth and felt moodier with the feature enabled, as shadows were darker and denser while light bounced off objects much more accurately. It looked nice. Elden Ring also looks nice the way that it is already, but any update that aims to make the pretty game prettier is welcomed. Sadly, however, beauty is pain, as players across the internet have reported copious issues when RTX was turned on.
RTX is enabled by default following patch 1.09's release, though it’s only available on PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X. To turn it off, you’ll have to navigate to Game Options (on console) or Graphics (on PC) in the settings menu, then change your preference from there. However, playing the game with the feature turned on apparently causes a host of problems on all platforms. From Reddit to Twitter, players have been posting about the issues they’ve encountered.
“LOL so they added ray tracing to Elden Ring and enable it with the highest setting by default,” said Twitter user EmKUltra64. “If you have an Nvidia RTX or AMD RX 6000 (or newer) GPU and you load up the game today and notice performance suddenly tanking, maybe go into settings and turn it off. It’s not worth it.”
“New RTX update for Elden Ring isn’t that good for the performance it takes, minimal change with no significant enhancement to the looks and view of the game,” wrote another tweeter named CowHourr.
“The ray tracing implementation is very bad,” said Twitter user VG_Shrine. “It destroys the game performance even on an RTX 4090, causing heavy stuttering and making the game to run at 40fps. I hope that FromSoftware can get the ray tracing reworked in a future patch.”
Things seem to be worse on Elden Ring’s subreddit. There are a plethora of posts from folks complaining about how RTX is either crashing their game or causing it to run at “a rock-solid 5fps” on Xbox Series X. Yeah, that’s a yikes.
“The game just feels horrible with it on console at least,” said redditor 17sbaucum. “I felt like I was actually lagging in [the] game. What was the point of putting ray tracing in the game? It makes the game feel worse to play and makes no difference in how the game actually looks. I couldn’t tell you what changed when I turned ray tracing on.”
“Game is unplayable with ray tracing on,” said another redditor named Cooper-da-trooper. “Frame drops and hard crashes even on a top-end PC (3090). The game now crashes whenever I try to load one of my characters that was in Stormveil, this update is...really bad.”
“I just updated and fired up the game,” said redditor cyrod1il. “I turned off ray tracing because I absolutely hate the way it got implemented into the game, and there’s no DLSS so it’s poorly optimized and makes me lose almost 15 frames in [Leyndell, Royal Capital]. My character is at the Morgott bonfire right after I killed him, and I absolutely cannot fast-travel anywhere. When I do, the game [crashes to desktop]. Tried repairing the game, didn’t work. Thoughts?”
My thoughts? Well, it appears ray tracing is busted. That’s not to say the feature is bad. Aside from Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, other examples of games with good RTX include Control, Cyberpunk 2077 (shocking, I know), Ghostwire: Tokyo, Red Dead Redemption 2, and many, many others. It just seems that Elden Ring’s implementation is poorly optimized, but that doesn’t mean it will always be that way. Give it some time. Things will probably improve. Or you could just, you know, play with RTX turned off. It’s not as if Elden Ring really needs it anyway since The Lands Between is already a beautiful if frightening place.