Just about all the news from Gamescom 2018 was overshadowed earlier today when CD Projekt finally released Cyberpunk 2077 gameplay footage. But let’s not entirely forget about last week. Europe’s massive gaming show brought us a huge hardware announcement, new gameplay videos, hands-on previews, and even a story about poop that didn’t really happen.
You can read all our coverage of Gamescom 2018 here, and there’s more to come throughout this week. For now, we’re reflecting on the best stories that emerged from the sea of bodies that overtook Cologne last week. What was your favorite Gamescom announcement or news story? Let us know in the comments!
Jarred Walton: The RTX cards, of course
Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2080 announcement was pretty awesome (aside from the part about the prices of RTX series cards). There was all sorts of speculation on how many cores would be in the new Turing GPUs, and how fast they would be, and then Nvidia dropped the ray tracing bomb on us, opening what is likely a new chapter in real-time graphics.
There’s a lot more going on in Turing than anyone expected, including Tensor cores that can be put to use for enhancing graphics and not just AI—or AI-enhanced graphics if you prefer. The reworked GPU pipeline and architecture on its own would have been a nice upgrade from the GTX 10-series.
Nvidia is calling the RTX 20-series the biggest jump in graphics performance and features since it first introduced CUDA cores ten years ago. I’m inclined to agree, and I can’t wait to get hardware and put these bad boys through the wringer. If you’ve been thinking about upgrading to a new GPU, you should probably wait until September 20 before buying anything.
Wes Fenlon: Hitman 2, retroactive
This is such a cool idea. Last week IO Interactive announced that all of the changes they’ve made to Hitman 2, like new ways to hide, new weapons, improved AI, will be incorporated into the missions from the previous Hitman game as DLC. And if you already own Hitman, you’ll be able to replay the game with all those new elements in place for free. For a systems-driven sim like Hitman, that could dramatically change how you approach assassinations in those older missions, giving you new ways to play through levels you’d previously mastered. Just the AI changing alone could make old strategies obsolete. Even though Hitman 2 isn’t episodic, this feels like a clever extension of the episodic development, to me. Those older missions take on new dimensions as they continue to iterate on new ideas for Hitman 2. What a great bonus for Hitman fans.
Christopher Livingston: Coffee break
I do three things in this life: use a PC, stop using my PC so I can get up and make coffee, and drink coffee. If I could have this PC from Gamescom that has a coffee maker built into it, I could shear all that pointless walking back and forth out of my life and have more time to use my PC and drink my coffee.
James Davenport: Ray tracing
Ray tracing as a concept wasn’t announced at Gamescom, obviously, but we got to see how it’ll look in some big games. I don’t think the average person cares much about ‘true’ lighting and I don’t know how long it’ll take until the average PC can even handle ray tracing at decent framerates and resolutions, but I’m excited about the possibilities, subtle as they might be.
For one, natural lighting will change how developers conceive of scenes. Artificial and hidden lights do the trick now, but ray tracing will allow devs to light scenes naturally, thinking of them like they might a movie set. Based on my understanding of the tech, it’s going to one day save a ton of time and make lighting scenes far more accessible. But as a player, I’m mostly excited about what it means for horror. During the Metro: Exodus demo, a monster was completely hidden in the rafters above a dimly lit room. Without the need for soft ambient lighting cast across an entire scene, ray tracing will allow for darkness where it naturally occurs. If light wouldn’t bounce into a dark corner, it won’t with ray tracing either. Imagine a scene where the only light is a tiny flame. A monster could be feet from your face and you wouldn’t know it. It’s going to be awful.
Evan Lahti: Shortest Trip to Earth
About time we got some proper follow-ups on FTL that adds granularity and complexity to its ideas instead of simply selectively picking from them. Interestingly, Shortest Trip to Earth was being designed before FTL came out, but it’s surely taken some inspiration from Subset’s classic, and it looks promising. Crew members have customizable loadouts, and they board enemy vessels in shuttles rather than teleporting. Sam describes some random events that sound wonderfully Dwarf Fortressy in his story from Gamescom: “You’ll discover one planet with strange mushrooms, and if you bring them back to your ship, they’ll release spores that grow into living humans.”
Tyler Wilde: There was no poop
There was a lot to digest at Gamescom, but the first story to pass through our work chat on Friday required the most research of all of them. We had to know: Did someone really poop in a bag in the Fortnite line, and then leave the bag on the floor, causing people to step in it, spreading poop all over Gamescom? I spoke to some people I knew who were at the convention, and they told me that while conditions were indeed smelly, they had not heard about any poop. There were also no photos on social media. Eventually, Epic stated that no bag pooping occurred. That’s one urban legend debunked. I’m glad we were able to get this one right, and I appreciate Andy Chalk for being willing to email an Epic representative to ask them about a bag of crap. I am also thankful that no one at Gamescom actually had to suffer through this made-up poop crime.