I guess I'd just like a really good engineering solution, something that you can say "ok, this works for everything everywhere all the time" and you don't need X to back it up.
I think path tracing meets that criteria.
It is sort of like Heisenberg's uncertainty principle in a way. You can't have a general solution that works well for all scenarios and is computationally cheap at the same time.
Virtualized textures is pretty much all anyone could ever ask for in terms of textures But, yes reflections are a lot harder. I doubt that it's even mathematically possible for a "computationally cheap" way to do reflections or even worse actual (lightbounce) GI in general without a lot of precomputation/screenspace type hacks. Ohwell, I can dream.