Half-Life 2 Will Soon Have Ray-Tracing

GPU manufacturer Nvidia announced its plans to remaster, with full ray-tracing, Valve’s 2004 first-person shooter Half-Life 2 on August 22. Development will be handled by myriad Half-Life 2 mod teams, including those that made Half-Life 2: VR, united under new studio Orbifold, and it’ll be released for free.

Half-Life 2 RTX, which “is early in development,” a blog Nvidia posted to its site says, does not yet have a release date, but it relies on the tech company’s also unreleased, free modding platform RTX Remix. Through its “latest version,” Nvidia says, Orbifold is “rebuilding materials with Physically Based Rendering (PBR) properties, adding extra geometric detail via Valve’s Hammer editor, and leveraging NVIDIA technologies including full ray-tracing, DLSS 3, Reflex, and RTX IO to deliver a fantastic experience for GeForce RTX gamers.”

A trailer showcasing stunning improvements to environments indicates as much. But before any diehard fans get giddy about their favorite game’s makeover, it seems likely that, when Half-Life 2 RTX releases, it’ll be hard to find a PC that can handle it.

Nvidia’s free-to-play modding project from earlier this summer, Portal: Prelude RTX, currently has a “mostly negative” review rating on Steam because of frequent crashes (and bad puzzles).

“I figured I would give this a shot,” says a top-voted review. “I have a 13900K, a 4090 [GPU], 64 gigs of RAM, and the most recent drivers and patches. Nope, the game lasted about 10 seconds before it froze with stuttering audio.”

But, you know, we’re talking about free mods. There are few meaningful setbacks to trying out Half-Life 2 RTX once it’s out, especially as its source material, as Riley MacLeod says with Delphic pronunciation in a 2016 Kotaku review, is “a place more than a game.”

“It creates a player who is in control,” he writes, “who can effortlessly navigate the game world to do what they want to do, who feels confident and empowered and all the words games trip over themselves to promise us now.”


Brilliant Mash-Up Puts Ron Swanson In Half-Life 2

Park and Recs own Ronald Ulysses “Ron” Swanson, the internet’s favorite small-government libertarian, is the latest television character to visit a video game in a new video from talented YouTube creator eli_handle_b․wav.

While Ron Swanson, played by Nick Offerman, isn’t the main character in NBC’s critically acclaimed Parks and Rec TV series, he has arguably become the show’s most famous and popular character. His popularity online comes from his gruff but kind attitude, his deadpan humor, and his love of breakfast foods. But Swanson does hate some things. For example, he can’t stand the “miserable socialist terrain” of Europe. Hey, quick question: Where is Half-Life 2 set? Oh no!

Ron Swanson’s trip across 2004’s Half-Life 2 is another excellent video from mash-up legend eli_handle_b․wav. The video was uploaded on August 20 and cruelly hidden from me by YouTube’s algorithm until today. But now that I’ve seen it I feel compelled to share it with you all.

eli_handle_b․wav. / Valve / NBC

In the video, Ron Swanson goes on a scavenger hunt set up by his co-worker and friend, Leslie Knope. Of course, Half-Life 2’s City 17 being set in Europe means this isn’t a fun trip for Swanson, who has to put up with disappointing towers, zombie attacks, and the annoyingly smug Wallace Breen, aka the human face of the alien invaders. But don’t worry, in one of the best moments of the video, Swanson does what we all wanted to do and punches Breen right in the face.

I shouldn’t be surprised by how great this latest eli_handle_b․wav. video is as the creator has become well known for their video game mash-ups. Earlier this year they blended John Wick with Resident Evil 4 in an equally fantastic video. And before that, they created comedy gold by tossing Michael Scott from The Office in with Mass Effect’s politics and aliens.

eli_handle_b․wav. / Bioware / EA / NBC

But I’ll admit that this Ron Swanson mash-up might be my favorite yet as it brings together two things I love very much—Parks and Rec and Half-Life 2—into one tightly edited and perfectly crafted YouTube video that I’ve already watched like six times.

I can’t wait to see if Ron Swanson will visit more of Half-Life 2 or even, perhaps, Half-Life: Alyx! I think Ron would actually get along with Russel.

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