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Resident Evil just got proper ray tracing, and it looks amazing

Following the discovery of a path tracing renderer in the RE Engine, modders have enabled it in Resident Evil games with dramatic results.

A path traced screenshot of Jill Valentine from Resident Evil 3

Gorgeous as the RE Engine may be, its support for ray tracing leaves much to be desired, as keenly highlighted in recent Resident Evil remakes. Thankfully, those searching for improved ray traced effects are in luck as modders are finally doing the series justice with proper ray tracing rendering that Capcom had hidden away. Better still, Dragon’s Dogma 2 players stand to benefit too.

Ray tracing is no longer a feature exclusive to the best graphics cards but powerful pixel pushers are a must here with this mod for RE Engine Resident Evil games. Should you have a capable GPU at your disposal, though, every entry from Resident Evil 7 up to Resident Evil 4 Remake stands to benefit from this new mod.

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This path tracing mod, authored by NexusMods user EXXXcellent, was initially intended for Dragon’s Dogma 2. However, given that Capcom’s RPG and some of its Resident Evil games use the RE Engine, experiments with the likes of Resident Evil 7, 8, and recent remakes quickly ensued. Suffice to say, the results are stunning, albeit imperfect.

Images shared by Reddit user JoHien are excellent showcases of how path tracing benefits RE Engine Resident Evil games. The most illuminating examples (pun intended), to my eye, are the screenshots of Claire Redfield in the Racoon City Police Department and basically every shot of Jill Valentine in Resident Evil 3.

A comparison between ray tracing and path tracing in Resident Evil 2

Starting with the shot of Jill in the 2nd Floor East Hallway, the path traced renderer accurately captures the light and shadows cast from the window to her right. Not only does this make the scene feel more realistic, but it also creates a new source of dread in the environment, making you anxious of what shadowed figure (be it a zombie or a licker) might cross it. This is not forgetting how Jill’s character model benefits from the rejigged lighting, with the game’s native ray tracing settings making her appear oddly lit by comparison.

Meanwhile, Jill Valentine’s character model benefits greatly from the introduction of path tracing, with her hair in particular appearing more full with the addition of accurately shadowed strands. The game’s environments also feel better realized, with the blue hues of the Surveillance Room and dark shadows of Racoon City feeling decidedly more pronounced.

A comparison of ray tracing and path tracing in Resident Evil 3

For all its positives, though, this mod does come with some serious flaws. The lack of a denoiser leaves some parts of the game with an appearance akin to static on a CRT television, which is severe enough to understandably put some off the mod entirely. Then there are some instances where path tracing sadly makes the image worse, as demonstrated by the screenshot of Resident Evil 8 below, once again captured by JoHien. That’s not forgetting the performance hit that comes with all forms of path tracing.

It’s unclear whether these issues can be resolved but the potential here seems far too good to waste. Given that Capcom seemingly has no interest in bringing quality ray traced effects to its RE Engine games, let alone path traced ones, modders like EXXXcellent are our best shot at seeing the Resident Evil series and Dragon’s Dogma 2 in their best light.

A comparison between ray tracing and path tracing in Resident Evil: Village

In the meantime, give our Dragon’s Dogma 2 settings guide a look if you’re looking for the ideal balance of performance and eye candy. We’ve also got some Resident Evil 4 remake settings recommendations too, for those inspired to revisit Capcom’s most recent RE Engine horror foray.