It's been a long time coming, but ray tracing has finally been added to Elden Ring. Unfortunately, it looks like the feature hasn't been well received.
Available as part of Elden Ring's version 1.09 update, ray tracing has been added to the game's display options. Oddly, though, the feature wasn't listed in the update's official patch notes, which contains the usual list of gameplay adjustments and bug fixes.
Ray tracing hasn't just come to the PC version of the game, either. If you have Elden Ring on PS5 or Xbox Series X, you can check the feature out for yourself on console. Good luck being able to spot the differences, though, as Soulsborne fans on Twitter are reporting minimal changes to the experience. Others are saying that enabling ray tracing can also crash the game.
First image: ray tracing off. Second image: ray tracing on. Third image demonstrates how RTAO eliminates the glow around the cliff/rock edge in close areas (but not far ones). Basically, it's a very minimal difference. pic.twitter.com/cZ7tE1YJYdMarch 23, 2023
Popular Soulsborne creator Lance McDonald also notes that indoor shadows have "basically no improvement," and that enabling ray tracing is extremely taxing on PC. Ray tracing in Elden Ring appears to be limited to just ambient occlusion and shadows, meaning the game doesn't feature ray traced reflections and, perhaps worst of all, no DLSS support to help smooth out those performance hiccups.
Not worth the cost
Ray tracing is typically a demanding feature in any game, and it seems like it's been poorly optimized for Elden Ring. That's a huge shame, as I'd love to have seen The Lands Between really come alive with the help of the advanced lighting feature.
Conversely, Elden Ring is a huge open-world game. And as a result, ray tracing isn't the easiest thing to implement properly on such a broad scale. There are concessions developer From Software could've made to ease the burden, such as limiting the framerate to 30fps to compensate, but that's not going to be an ideal solution for everyone, especially those who prefer smoother action.
As it stands, I'd recommend leaving ray tracing disabled for Elden Ring, especially if you're playing on console. The minimal improvements paired with the performance tax just isn't worth it. The last thing you want is a drastic framerate hitch when you're dodging through Malenia's waterfowl dance.