Hitman could become the first big DirectX 12 game

IO Interactive and AMD team up for a big performance boost on Radeon graphics cards.

Hitman (2016)

DirectX 12 may soon appear in a big-budget game with next month’s launch of Hitman.

AMD says it’s collaborating with Hitman developer IO Interactive to enable the next-generation graphics tech. It sounds like this will be the first game to take advantage of DirectX 12’s Asynchonous Shaders feature, which spreads different tasks (such as lighting, physics, and memory) across the GPU’s individual computing units, letting them all work at the same time. This should allow for big gains in image quality without a performance hit.

Indeed, Hitman might be the first DirectX 12 game on the market from a major publisher. The stealth action thriller is set to launch on March 11, long before other confirmed DirectX titles such as Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and Fable Legends. It’s possible that Gears of War: Ultimate Edition could sneak in sooner with an early 2016 launch, but so far Microsoft hasn’t given a specific release date.

Aside from those new releases, some existing games such as Just Cause 3 and The Elder Scrolls Online are also in the works. Some smaller games such as Descent: Underground added experimental DirectX 12 support last year.

To take advantage of DirectX 12, players will need to be running Windows 10—Microsoft has no plans to bring the tech to older versions—and AMD cards will need to run the company’s Graphics Core Next Architecture, covering nearly every card released since 2012.

Why this matters: DirectX 12 is a major step forward for PC graphics, providing game makers with the type of low-level hardware access that is traditionally found only on dedicated game consoles. And for AMD in particular, it marks the first time the company’s asynchronous compute engines can really shine. Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that AMD is pushing to support one of the first DirectX 12 games out the gate.

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