When you have more time to talk about games, than actually play them.
Ray tracing is the new buzz phrase in the world of gaming graphics. Even the newer consoles have the technology to show off those pretty graphics. For the uninformed, the technology revolves around calculating the path that rays of light take in a scene to give an accurate representation of the light path in the real world.
This can apply to how they reflect off of shiny surfaces, how objects block light for accurate shadows and how colored light illuminates everything in the scene. It is very performance intensive for even modern GPUs to handle the calculations for moving game scenes.
To help reduce the heavy workload the calculations require, GPUs like the Nvidia RTX cards utilize artificial intelligence. The rays to be traced are rendered at a lower resolution than the scene, then algorithms upscale back to the original resolution. The AI gets it close enough to the way the light paths would take, that most humans cannot tell the difference.
The game Control was the go to game for all the ray tracing goodies. Reflections look accurate, lighting is close to real world and shadows are the most accurate of most games this decade. The game runs very well with all those great graphics too.
Cyberpunk 2077 is set to be the next showpiece for the technology, despite the bugs. The neon signs of Night City cast a beautifully ray traced glow on objects around it. Shadows match the shapes and movement of the items blocking the light. Reflections are accurate and crisp, well except your character seem to not reflect like the V stands for Vampire.
Not all games that include ray tracing are as impressive as those 2 games right now, but the real secret future of ray tracing is in the time it could save developers from having to fake light. They could spend more time developing more complicated logic and AI, rather than worrying about how the lights or shadows will look.