RTX Remix open beta will let modders add ray tracing to classic games later this month

Daniel Sims

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Something to look forward to: Some modders have been tinkering with pieces of Nvidia's upcoming ray tracing mod framework for months, but the entire toolset will be available publicly in a few weeks. The company hopes the community will use this new software to create fan remasters of PC classics – like Half-Life 2, which is receiving an extensive rework by over 50 modders.

Nvidia's RTX Remix enters open beta on January 22. All modders will gain free access to a toolchain for adding path tracing and other modern visual effects to some DirectX 8 and DirectX 9 games.

Users interested in the beta can sign up to receive notifications about the release on Nvidia's website. The beta includes an application containing tools to input, convert, and modify game assets and an updated version of the runtime the company released on GitHub last year.

RTX Remix enables modders to enhance DX8 and DX9 titles that use fixed-function pipelines. It adds features like path tracing, higher-quality art assets, physically-based materials required for ray tracing, AI-enhanced textures, DLSS, and more.

In 2022, Nvidia showcased the modding suite with an RTX enhanced version of Portal. Since then, users have been experimenting with the early RTX Remix files on classic games like SWAT 4, Max Payne, and Need for Speed Underground 2.

A group of modders is currently collaborating (presumably sponsored by Nvidia) to apply RTX Remix to Half-Life 2, significantly upgrading its lighting, models, textures, and other elements. Nvidia recently released new clips demonstrating the toolkit's impact on the game's famous Ravenholm chapter. The videos show darkened alleyways, zombies, and headcrabs. It's likely too soon to tell if the fan-made remaster will be available in time for the seminal classic's 20th anniversary later this year.

To facilitate access to more information, Nvidia is cooperating with ModDB, which will dedicate a section of its website to RTX Remix mods. Users can collaborate on a list of eligible games, share configurations, and upload mods with an unprecedented 50GB size limit. Nvidia also maintains a Discord server for showcasing projects.

Recent mods have shown the profound effect path tracing can have on classic PC games like Doom, Quake, the original Half-Life, Tomb Raider, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Tie Fighter, and others. Games compatible with RTX Remix include Call of Duty 2, Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, Freedom Fighters, and Source engine titles like Garry's Mod and Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines.

Ray-tracing mods might not be limited to old titles for long. Modders also aim to upgrade ReShade to introduce the technology to DirectX 10, 11, and 12 games.

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This looks exciting, though I personally was never a fan of the Ravenholm level in HL2 or the catacombs levels in RtCW. Something about fighting zombies in the dark with a flashlight and then not being able to sleep. ;)

In addition to Tie Fighter, I’d love to see an RTX mod for Dark Forces II:Jedi Knight or its sequel Jedi Outcast. Those were fantastic games. Before the dark times… before Kathleen Kennedy.

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Presumably the official release wont be until the 5000 series comes out, and even then, it doesn’t run very well on anything but the 5090…
 
Honestly the best way to play Half-life 2 is the VR Mod. This looks fancy and all but the gameplay and level design is what matters most.
 
Presumably the official release wont be until the 5000 series comes out, and even then, it doesn’t run very well on anything but the 5090…

I'd be with you if Nvidia was controlling the modding process. But from what I understand they're not, thankfully. They're just releasing the tools for the mod community to use. And modders are unsung heroes IMHO. They release some amazing stuff, for free with no expectations of praise. I've even had a couple of games that were pretty much rescued by community produced patches. OTOH there is a chance that Nvidia will try to gate keep access to the mods and charge a fee. It's not like someone hasn't tried it before...
 
For anyone wondering how much a difference mods make, they need to check out the Quake 2 RTX version. I loved the game in it's day, but hadn't played for a very long time. But the visual upgrade with the RTX version was good enough that I finished it again. It was almost like it was a brand new game.
 
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