‘Half-Life 2’ Enters A New Era With Full Ray-Tracing And DLSS Support

NVIDIA recently delighted classic gaming enthusiasts with the announcement of a remastered mod for Valve’s Half-Life 2 ahead of gamescom 2023. Dubbed Half-Life 2 RTX: An RTX Remix Project, this isn’t a complete overhaul but rather an enhanced version flaunting ray-traced graphics, revamped textures, and innovative lighting, granting the game a modern gleam.

Orbifold Studios, a collaboration of prominent Half-Life 2 modding teams (Project 17, Half-Life 2 Remade Assets, Half-Life 2 VR, Raising the Bar: Redux), is spearheading the development, leveraging on the RTX Remix software to elevate the gaming experience. Early footage presented by NVIDIA showcases marked improvements, especially in metallic textures, revealing lustrous reflections, intricate cloth details, and an enhanced realism for foes like the Headcrab.

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The remaster will utilise an early access toolkit from RTX Remix, leaning on Physically Based Rendering (PBR) materials, akin to those in Minecraft with RTX. Players can anticipate enhanced geometric details via the Valve Hammer Editor, alongside full ray-tracing and support for NVIDIA graphics features, including DLSS 3, Reflex, and RTX IO.

Historically, Half-Life 2 was a beacon of innovation, presenting groundbreaking physics simulations integrated into gameplay, epitomised by features like the Gravity Gun. The current remaster aims to do justice to the original by introducing cutting-edge visuals. However, fans eagerly awaiting the release in alignment with the game’s 20th anniversary in November 2024 might need to temper their expectations. NVIDIA’s official statement indicated that development “has just begun”.

The project bears similarities to the previously released Portal with RTX, crafted by NVIDIA’s Lightspeed Studios using RTX Remix, a modding platform that facilitates ray-traced remasters of classic games. NVIDIA, which unveiled RTX Remix in September 2022, granted early access to the modding teams now united under Orbifold Studios.

Indications suggest the endeavour is largely voluntary, spearheaded by modders rather than Lightspeed Studios or Valve. In a press release, NVIDIA even expressed a desire to enlist the broader modding community in this ambitious project.

Eager fans might need to practise patience, though. Given the early development stage, a launch might be distant. NVIDIA nonetheless encourages potential contributors to visit the newly launched RTX Remix website.

The finalised game will be freely accessible to existing Half-Life 2 owners, and enthusiasts can track developments on the dedicated Half-Life 2 RTX website.