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Nvidia is adding real-time ray tracing to Quake 2, and you can play it soon

Nvidia first showed off its remaster of Quake 2 at this year’s GDC, and you’ll be able to play it yourself June 6—provided your hardware is up to the task.

The announcement video above shows off the rocket jump forward ray tracing represents. Working with modder and Ph. D student Christoph Shied, Nvidia has replaced all the original effects in Quake 2 to create Quake 2 RTX, and it looks absolutely lovely.

Using real-time ray tracing for global illumination has meant that they’ve been able to add several new options, including the ability to select the time of day in a level. The team has also updated all of Quake 2s textures, some from the Q2XP mod pack and others they’ve enhanced themselves. 

Better yet, Nvidia will be posting the source code for Quake 2 RTX on GitHub to make it easy for modders to use this as a starting point either to enhance Quake 2 further or to use it in mods.

Nvidia says this version of Quake 2 uses path tracing to render just about everything you see on screen, which gives it “the highest workloads of any ray-traced game released to date.” Thus, the recommended system requirements are on the steep side: Nvidia recommends at least an RTX 2060 for this version of Quake 2.

Starting June 6, anyone will be able to download the first three levels of Quake 2 RTX, the same way id released the shareware version back in 1997. If you own the original Quake 2, you’ll be able to point Quake 2 RTX to your install folder and then play the full game with all the new ray-traced bells and whistles enabled.