Quake 2 RTX with ray-traced graphics is now available, first 3 levels are free

For the past several months, Nvidia has been adding a fresh coat of ray-traced paint to Quake 2, which originally released way back in 1997. It is now available to download and play for free, in part or in whole, depending on whether you already own the original game or not.

Anyone who already owns Quake 2 can play the ray-traced remaster in its entirety at no cost. For everyone else, the first three levels are free. If you want to keep playing, you'll have to shell out a modest $4.99 to buy the original game, which then unlocks the complete RTX version.

Even though Quake 2 is more than two decades old, the official ray-traced version is taxing on graphics hardware. The RTX version uses path tracing to render almost everything on the screen, giving it "the highest workload of any ray-traced game released to date."

That means you can't play it with a GTX card, even though Nvidia adding ray tracing support to Turing and Pascal-based GTX variants. To play it, you will need a GeForce RTX 2060 or higher RTX graphics card, along with an Intel Core i3-3220 or AMD equivalent processor, 8GB of RAM, and 2GB of storage space.

Obviously a 22-year-old game with prettier visuals is the not the promised land for ray tracing, and for most people it's not reason alone to consider an RTX card. However, it's at least a nice bonus while we wait for more ray-traced games to appear. As it pertains to Quake 2 RTX, it's been upgraded with realistic reflections, refraction, shadows, and global illumination.

If you have the requisite hardware and want to check it out, you can grab Quake 2 RTX from Steam or download it directly from Nvidia.