The inevitable Half-Life 2 RTX remix is being made without Valve

Half-Life 2: RTX Remix
(Image credit: Nvidia | Valve)

You can't tell me that as soon as Portal got the full path tracing experience you weren't sitting there jonesing for them to do the same thing with Half-Life 2. We all want it, and Nvidia has been working with, what it's calling four of the HL2 mod community's "top mod teams," to make it happen. It's called, obviously Half-Life 2: RTX.

But while Valve is aware of this Nvidia-backed project, the company behind one of the greatest PC games ever made has no formal involvement. Though, to be fair, that might actually mean it gets a release this side of the next ice age, such is the laggardly power of 'Valve Time'.

It must be said, however, that development has only just kicked off, with the current four mod teams—now going by the sobriquet, Orbifold Studios—actively looking for extra modding help to get the rather sizable task finished.

As a full RTX Remix project, you're getting the full Half-Life 2 game effectively remastered. You're getting new, high-res assets, fully ray traced lighting, and RTX IO support. That ought to bring the game right up to 2023 standards, and honestly, the project sizzle reel makes it look pretty incredible.

Nvidia has informed us that the mod teams which have joined forces to create Orbifold Studios have come from these projects:

  • Project 17: a mod recreating the first chapter of Half-Life 2 in VR, while also bringing the visual quality up to current-generation standard.
  • Half-Life 2 Remade Assets: a project setting out to recreate assets used across Half-Life 2 with high fidelity graphics and physically accurate properties.
  • Half-Life 2 VR: a mod that allows players to experience Valve's 2004 PC gaming classic in virtual reality.
  • Raising the Bar: Redux: a cut-content total conversion mod for Half-Life 2, bringing old-school ideas to life with a fresh art style and revitalized combat.

Nvidia also approached Igor Zdrowowicz, who was working on his own RTX Remix of Half-Life 2 using the Portal with RTX files. He's already shared some of his initial work via Twitter, but has now joined up with Orbifold Studios to help build this fully realised remaster of the further adventures of theoretical physicist, G Dawg Freeman. The original subtitle for Half-Life 2, in case anyone's wondering.

It's also not the first time the community has tried to get a full Half-Life 2 remaster project off the ground, indeed back in the hazy days of 2021 we reported on a SteamDB listing about a Half-Life 2: Remastered Collection. That was reportedly coming from the same Filip Viktor who created the Half-Life 2: Update mod, which added particle effects, improved lighting, and HDR support.

Half-Life 2: Remastered Collection is still being worked on, and the SteamDB page is still very much live, with listings of Review_Builds and public branches, presumably for wider testing. As far as I know this doesn't have anything to do with the new RTX Remix version, but it's possible the Remastered Collection could get in first.

Do we have space for two remasters of the classic Gordon Freeman romp? I mean, we've waited this long so might as well wait for them both to get released and pick the prettiest one, eh? That'll also give you time to go re-read the outstanding Concerned HL2 webcomic from our own Christopher Livingston. 

Dave James
Managing Editor, Hardware

Dave has been gaming since the days of Zaxxon and Lady Bug on the Colecovision, and code books for the Commodore Vic 20 (Death Race 2000!). He built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 16, and finally finished bug-fixing the Cyrix-based system around a year later. When he dropped it out of the window. He first started writing for Official PlayStation Magazine and Xbox World many decades ago, then moved onto PC Format full-time, then PC Gamer, TechRadar, and T3 among others. Now he's back, writing about the nightmarish graphics card market, CPUs with more cores than sense, gaming laptops hotter than the sun, and SSDs more capacious than a Cybertruck.