The First Descendant feature-2

The First Descendant has the most underwhelming Ray Tracing effects we’ve ever seen

NEXON has just launched its latest free-to-play third-person looter shooter, The First Descendant, on PC. The game is powered by Unreal Engine 5, and supports Ray Tracing, as well as DLSS 3 and FSR 3.0. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at its Ray Tracing effects. And, as the title implies, they are the most underwhelming RT effects we’ve ever seen in any game.

For these benchmarks and screenshot comparisons, we used an AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D, 32GB of DDR5 at 6000Mhz, and NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 4090. I also used Windows 10 64-bit, and the GeForce 556.12 WHQL driver. Moreover, I’ve disabled the second CCD on our 7950X3D.

According to the in-game setting, the Ray Tracing in The First Descendant aims to enhance its lighting.

The First Descendant PC graphics settings-1

So, in theory, there should be a big difference between RT On and Off, right? Well, actually no. Below you can find some comparison screenshots between RT On (left) and RT Off (right).

Ray Tracing On-1Ray Tracing Off-1 Ray Tracing On-2Ray Tracing Off-2 Ray Tracing On-3Ray Tracing Off-3 Ray Tracing On-4Ray Tracing Off-4 Ray Tracing On-5Ray Tracing Off-5 Ray Tracing On-6Ray Tracing Off-6 Ray Tracing On-7Ray Tracing Off-7 Ray Tracing On-9Ray Tracing Off-9 Ray Tracing On-8Ray Tracing Off-8 Ray Tracing On-10Ray Tracing Off-10

Even when using NVIDIA’s ICAT, it’s pretty hard to notice the lighting improvements that Ray Tracing brings to this title. The only comparisons that show some differences are the last two. However, the visual differences are minimal. And no, they do not justify the enormous performance hit.

Seriously, I don’t really know why the devs bothered adding Ray Tracing in this game. Ray Tracing can make a huge difference in some games. However, The First Descendant is the perfect example of why RT can be completely useless in other games.

As such, we suggest completely disabling Ray Tracing in The First Descendant. And, as you can see in the following graph, there is a big performance difference between RT On and RT Off.

With Ray Tracing, our NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 was able to push framerates between 43fps and 64fps. Without Ray Tracing, we were getting framerates between 63fps and 89fps.

The First Descendant Ray Tracing benchmarks

And yes, as I said, the game supports DLSS 3. As such, owners of an RTX40 series GPU can use DLSS 3 Super Resolution and Frame Generation to get close to 100fps. But why do this when there are no noticeable image improvements? Without RT, you can push even higher framerates with DLSS 3 SR and FG.

Stay tuned for our next article, in which we’ll be comparing DLSS 3 with FSR 3.0!