Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora will feature real-time ray tracing to accompany a completely new lighting system which Ubisoft built using its Snowdrop engine. Notably though, ray tracing will be a mandatory part of the game and not something players will be able to disable for improved performance.
According to a roughly translated statement issued to GameStar by technical director Nikolay Stefanov earlier today, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora “will only appear with ray tracing” but Ubisoft has been working to ensure that “the quality and performance will be scalable.”
The statement was in response to whether players will be able to disable ray tracing as they are able to in Cyberpunk 2077. Hence, making it easier for older hardware to run the game using traditional rendering methods.
Ubisoft has however said no. Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora will be using ray tracing as its only rendering technique for everything. That includes global illumination, as well as shadows and reflections.
Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora appears to be a true next-generation experience and a visual masterpiece based on its trailers. Running that with ray tracing enabled will be cumbersome even for the most expensive of systems. Ubisoft will naturally have to infuse a lot of optimizations but at the same time will make sure players can tone down ray tracing effects as low as they want.
It is possible that Ubisoft is doing what developer 4A Games did with Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition. The ray tracing of Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition gets enabled for only the immediate surroundings. Hence, removing light sources not in view of the player. Walking into a room for example activates ray tracing effects. Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora might be following the same model, at least to some degree.
Elsewhere, Ubisoft released a technical preview of the game to show how the open world of James Cameron is different to anything undertaken by Ubisoft in the past. The game actually required the developer to make additional improvements and upgrades to its Snowdrop engine.
Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora has been slated for release somewhere in 2022 for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, and PC. There will be no previous-generation versions.