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Half-Life 2 Will Soon Have Ray-Tracing

GPU manufacturer Nvidia announced its plans to remaster, with full ray-tracing, Valve’s 2004 first-person shooter Half-Life 2 on August 22. Development will be handled by myriad Half-Life 2 mod teams, including those that made Half-Life 2: VR, united under new studio Orbifold, and it’ll be released for free.

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Half-Life 2 RTX, which “is early in development,” a blog Nvidia posted to its site says, does not yet have a release date, but it relies on the tech company’s also unreleased, free modding platform RTX Remix. Through its “latest version,” Nvidia says, Orbifold is “rebuilding materials with Physically Based Rendering (PBR) properties, adding extra geometric detail via Valve’s Hammer editor, and leveraging NVIDIA technologies including full ray-tracing, DLSS 3, Reflex, and RTX IO to deliver a fantastic experience for GeForce RTX gamers.”

A trailer showcasing stunning improvements to environments indicates as much. But before any diehard fans get giddy about their favorite game’s makeover, it seems likely that, when Half-Life 2 RTX releases, it’ll be hard to find a PC that can handle it.

Nvidia’s free-to-play modding project from earlier this summer, Portal: Prelude RTX, currently has a “mostly negative” review rating on Steam because of frequent crashes (and bad puzzles).

“I figured I would give this a shot,” says a top-voted review. “I have a 13900K, a 4090 [GPU], 64 gigs of RAM, and the most recent drivers and patches. Nope, the game lasted about 10 seconds before it froze with stuttering audio.”

But, you know, we’re talking about free mods. There are few meaningful setbacks to trying out Half-Life 2 RTX once it’s out, especially as its source material, as Riley MacLeod says with Delphic pronunciation in a 2016 Kotaku review, is “a place more than a game.”

“It creates a player who is in control,” he writes, “who can effortlessly navigate the game world to do what they want to do, who feels confident and empowered and all the words games trip over themselves to promise us now.”

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