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Half-Life 2 RTX mod brings ray tracing and DLSS to another Valve classic

Will join Portal in the RTX Remix remaster club

A close view of Gordon Freeman's HEV suit in Half-Life 2 RTX.
Image credit: Nvidia/Orbifold Studios

Nvidia are making an early start on their Gamescom announcements, which include the reveal of Half-Life 2 RTX. This incoming mod for the seminal 2004 FPS will, in the style of Portal with RTX, rejig the original game with modern technical goodies like ray tracing, updated environmental details, and Nvidia Reflex support. DLSS will also be on hand to absorb the inevitably mahoosive performance hit from bouncing all those rays around, and that includes DLSS 3, provided you have a compatible graphics card.

It’s being developed by a collective of experienced HL2 modders, Orbifold Studios, without direct input from Valve. No release date yet, as Half-Life 2 RTX – or to use its full name, Half-Life 2 RTX: An RTX Remix Project – is still in the early stages. There is a teaser trailer, though.

Watch on YouTube

Not gonna lie, I’m quite jazzed about this. Portal with RTX had its flaws, including a nearly complete lack of rapport with AMD Radeon GPUs, but both it and fellow RTX Remix project Portal Prelude RTX turned out as respectable (and respectful) remasters. Judging from both the trailer and the preview shots Nvidia have released, Half-Life 2 RTX will stay closer to the original’s aesthetic; you can’t look at those 'after' pics and tell me they aren’t still Source Engine-y as all get out, even with the addition of shinier floors and more three-dimensional keyboards. Straight out of Half-Life: Alyx, almost.

As it happens, the Half-Life series has form for quality ray tracing mods. Earlier this year, Alice0 rated Half-Life: Ray Traced (which was itself based on existing RT mods for the original Half-Life) for how it upgraded the lighting and reflections while still looking quintessentially like the source material. Half-Life 2 RTX arguably does lean more towards photorealism, but doesn’t seem overly glossy to my eyes. Kleiner’s lab still has that musky, abandoned Czech hospital vibe to it, and I’m liking the little added details, like the magnifying lamp being switched on and bathing the desk in white light.

Fingers crossed for this, then, just as they are for fellow Nvidia Gamescom announcement DLSS 3.5. I’m always up for a new reason to play though Half-Life 2 again, and maybe Katharine could be tempted at another Gravity Gun-only run through Ravenholm. Ray-venholme. Dammit, should have used that for the strapline.

For more of the latest news and previews from Gamescom 2023, head to our Gamescom 2023 hub. You can also find everything announced at Opening Night Live right here.

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