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Quake II gets free real-time raytracing updates on June 6

While Quake II‘s fast-paced first-person shooter gameplay might be timeless, the 22 years since the game’s release have not been kind to its muddy textures, pointy polygons, and extremely basic light modeling. Nvidia is looking to fix that with an updated, real-time ray-traced version of the game, dubbed Quake II RTX.

Windows and Linux users will be able to download the first three levels of the graphically updated game as shareware starting at 6am Pacific Time on June 6. You can play the remaining levels and multiplayer if you point the installer to a legit copy of the full game on your hard drive. The source code for the Vulkan-based update will be posted on Github as well, though Quake II expansion packs will not be supported without extra effort from the community.

“It’s rare that a PC game has the impact and longevity of Quake II, and seeing it reimagined with ray tracing 20 years later is something special for me,” id Software Studio Director Tim Willits wrote in an announcement post.

While lone modders have worked to add raytracing to Quake II in the recent past, Nvidia is putting significantly more work into this professional effort, which was previously shown as a demo at this year’s Game Developers Conference. The company is touting features including “two-bounce” global illumination, player reflections off water and glass, variable “time of day” lighting options, and 3,000+ enhanced textures (built on top of the existing Q2XP mod-pack).

Nvidia’s development effort is all in service of promoting its RTX line of graphics cards, which the company has been pushing for months as the consumer-level entry point for real-time ray-tracing. Unlike the pre-baked lighting systems used in the past, ray-tracing simulates the actual path of multiple rays of light off different surfaces to create more accurate color and brightness data for each object. You can see the difference in the trailers embedded in this post or by using this Nvidia-provided comparison tool.

Such lighting detail doesn’t come cheap for the moment, though. The lowest-end RTX cards that Nvidia recommends for real-time ray-tracing current start at a $339 MSRP.

Nvidia recommends the following minimum system specs to run Quake II RTX

  • OS: Windows 7 64-bit or Ubuntu 16.04 LTS 64-bit
  • Processor: Intel Core i3-3220, or AMD equivalent
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 or higher
  • Storage: 2GB available space

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