May 16, 2021

The Making of Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition

Metro Exodus's Enhanced Edition is a very important game - it's the first triple-A game we know of that's built on technology that demands the inclusion of hardware-accelerated ray tracing hardware. To be clear, the new Metro is not a fully path-traced game built entirely on RT, but rather a hybrid renderer where global illumination, lighting and shadows are handled by ray tracing, while other elements of the game still use traditional rasterisation techniques. The bottom line though is that this is the foundation for developer 4A Games going forward: its games will require a PC with hardware RT graphics capabilities, while their console versions will tap into the same acceleration features found on the ninth generation consoles. And while 4A is the first developer to push this far into next generation graphics features, it's clearly not going to be the last.

We've already reviewed the PC version of Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition and will be following up in due course with detailed analysis of the PS5, Xbox Series X and Series S renditions of the game. However, in putting together our initial coverage of the game, 4A Games were extremely helpful and collaborative in ensuring the depth and accuracy of our work. If you've seen our video breakdown of the title, you'll have seen the behind the scenes editor shots showing level design workflow before and after the transition to ray tracing - but that's just the tip of the iceberg. 4A were also very helpful in going deep - really deep - in explaining how their RT implementation works. On top of that, the developer gave us an excellent overview of the project: why it was time to move their engine to RT, how so many new technologies made their way into Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition, and why we need to wait a little while until the console versions are released.

It's a wealth of in-depth information we're going to be splitting into two deep-dive interviews. This week, we begin with a discussion with Metro Exodus executive producer, Jon Bloch, covering the general approach to developing the game and its new features. Next week, we're catering to the hardcore graphics audience as 4A's CTO Oles Shishkovstov and senior rendering programmer Ben Archard go into extreme depth on the development of the 4A Engine's brand new ray tracing features.

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