PS4 and controller charging dockSource: Android Central

Best answer: Ray tracing will render light in environments more realistically on PlayStation 5, and should benefit players with more accurate audio sources.

Build your library: PlayStation Store Gift Card (From $10 at Amazon)

What is ray tracing?

Ray tracing is a rendering technique that improves visual fidelity by modeling how light interacts with and travels through virtual objects in a 3D environment. If you want the most realistic-looking environment possible, ray tracing is the way to do it. Usually, this is a technique that only big-budget Hollywood movies would employ, and also Nvidia GPUs on computers, but it hasn't made its way to consoles yet. That is set to change with the PlayStation 5.

How will it benefit PlayStation 5 games?

Ray tracing will obviously benefit PS5 games by offering better graphics than ever, especially when it comes to lighting and shadows. According to lead PlayStation console architect Mark Cerny, however, it should also improve audio sources.

"If you wanted to run tests to see if the player can hear certain audio sources or if the enemies can hear the players' footsteps, ray tracing is useful for that," he said. "It's all the same thing as taking a ray through the environment."

Since we're still in the dark surrounding a lot of PS5 details, it remains to be seen just how PlayStation intends to get true ray tracing to work as it requires a significant amount of power to do so.

What technique do video games usually use to render lighting?

Video games typically use a technique called rasterization. With rasterization, any object you see on-screen is made up of millions of triangular polygons to create a 3D image. Where these polygons intersect are called vertices, which store information on how to display the pixel, such as which direction is it facing and what color it should be assigned. From this, a shading process is employed that dictates how each color changes based on the environment's lighting.

How is ray tracing better?

Ray tracing can more reliably track the way light interacts with 3D objects, where and when it refracts, what surfaces it bounces between, and how it reflects off of another surface. Because of this, the overall image that you are seeing is better and more realistic than that of one rendered using rasterization.

Our pick

PlayStation Store Gift Card

So many choices

You may not able to use a PlayStation 5 just yet, but you can hop onto your PlayStation 4 and start playing some of the very best games that the industry has to offer today.

PlayStation accessories you'll love

Every one of these quality accessories is guaranteed to enhance your PlayStation experience.

EasySMX VIP002S RGB Gaming Headset ($36 at Amazon)

Good headsets tend to get expensive, but the EasySMX VIP002S headset gives you the best of both worlds: affordability and quality.

HyperX ChargePlay Duo ($20 at Amazon)

Charge up your controllers without taking up that precious USB space on your console. The HyperX ChargePlay Duo can charge two at once in two hours through an AC adapter.

PDP Bluetooth Media Remote ($20 at Amazon)

PlayStation is good for much more than gaming. When you want to browse the web or navigate your favorite apps, a DualShock 4 controller just doesn't cut it.

We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.