At the risk of spawning another #puddlegate scandal, Insomniac’s Community Director James Stevenson has revealed that Spider-Man: Miles Morales will feature ray-traced reflections in the game’s puddles, making use of one of the key new features of the PlayStation 5.
They are ray-traced now
— James Stevenson (@JamesStevenson) June 12, 2020
Of course, it’s all a tongue in cheek response to a wisecrack about the original #puddlegate, in which Insomniac were accused of downgrading the visuals from its reveal trailer.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales is a standalone new entry in Insomniac’s take on the Marvel universe – despite misinformation that it would be an expansion and remaster from a Sony VP. However, it’s not a full sequel, with speculation that the game is built on the foundations of the original and will come with a shorter main adventure and a budget price point, similar to Uncharted: Lost Legacy and inFamous First Light. Of course, that doesn’t mean that Insmoniac will stuff the game with flashy new graphical techniques and higher quality game assets.
How widespread the use of ray-tracing will be in next-gen games remains to be seen, with the first generation of ray-tracing GPUs on PC coming with hefty performance penalties. Ray-tracing is extremely complex to calculate, tracking individual rays of light or sound, how they bounce around the world, refracting and reflecting as they go. Current examples of this, with games like Battlefield V and Wolfenstein: Youngblood using it as an additive effect, throwing some more realistic reflections in certain parts of the game alongside traditional lighting methods.
It’s entirely plausible that developers would eschew the use of ray-tracing to help keep game performance high. Many of the games announced for Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 are able to target 4K60 or 120Hz gameplay partly because they’re not using ray tracing. Others like Capcom’s Pragmata seems to be using clever hybrid approaches, using screen-space reflections where they make sense, but augmenting edge cases with ray tracing to avoid telling visual quirks of this approach from obscurance and offset viewing angles.
Digital Foundry’s analysis from the PlayStation 5 reveal event has concluded that Sony’s first party games are typically targeting a native 4K resolution, but pushing the graphical fidelity with elements like ray-tracing leading to 30fps gaming.
Insomniac already talked about using ray-tracing for their in-game reflections, including on Clank’s chrome-like metal body. Puddles and windows are areas where reflections are most obvious and directly visible.
Puddles are, as we all know, a vital feature for video games to get right. Here’s eight of the best puddles you can find in video games to date.