Here’s Another Reason To Replay Quake 2

Here’s Another Reason To Replay Quake 2

Earlier this year NVIDIA unveiled a cheeky project – an attempt to bring ray-tracing, with all its bells and whistles, to Quake 2. It was a venture called Q2VKPT, courtesy of NVIDIA intern Christoph Schied.

The efforts of that were shown off earlier at the start of the year. But Schied and NVIDIA have continued developing the concept further further. And at GDC this year, the GPU maker showed off how far they’d come with Quake 2 RTX.

The game builds off the progress made by Schied’s Q2VKPT, but instead of relying on path tracing to create a single ray tracing algorithm to unify all lighting in a game, Q2RTX uses ray-tracing alongside Vulkan, which is no small feat for a game released in the late ’90s.

Unlike QV2KPT, the RTX-powered version of Quake 2 now has procedurally generated environment maps for clouds, skies and mountains; particle and laser effects for guns; a flare gun for highlighting darker elements of the map; support for SLI (in Quake 2!); optional smoke, fire and particle effects; real time-of-day lighting, along with indirect and direct illumination; and higher-res textures, models and weapons implemented from the Quake 2 XP open source project.

As a comparison, here’s what Q2VKPT looked like:

The whole game is also using a special Vulkan extension that allows devs to add ray tracing effects to their games. How difficult it is to implement ray tracing post or pre-release is another matter entirely, but the option’s there for any devs that want to play around with it.

Here’s a before/after comparison with the RTX effects:

More still shots and comparisons are available on the NVIDIA blog post here.


  • I saw this discussed on a different site and I’m torn. Some of the shots look much, much better. But others I find disappointing. The window one to me looks ugly. I feel like they need to dial back some of the effects. The corridors with sun streaming in on the other hand, look very nice. Even then though, the final screenshots look a little over-bright. I like the effect, but again feel like they need to dial it back a little.

    • You have to factor in the heavy compression required (on our CMS’s end) for GIFs as well, and the fact that screen-space reflections just *do not* exist in the Quake engine as is. We’re talking tech that has only become common place in the last five years, being retrofitted into a game from 1997.

      That’s bonkers when you think about it. The sad thing is that it’s very Vulkan-specific, which means it’s going to take a bit of work to retrofit this older games, and for most devs that’s just 1000% not worth the time.

      But it’s the kind of technique that studios who do a lot of remasters – see Night Dive Studios – might look at. And the fact that it’s possible at all is very cool.

      • I looked at the high quality screen caps on another site, and a couple of them still didn’t “work” for me. I’m not saying they shouldn’t do it, because there are a couple shots that look terrific. I just think that it’s something that you couldn’t just “slap on” and walk away. It needs a lot of tuning to get the effects looking right.

        So yeah, you’re spot on, for a lot of old games it wouldn’t be cost effective to retrofit them. It is an interesting proof of concept though.

        • Something like AvP could be real neat with a touch-up and some effects like this. Doubt that’ll happen this side of ever, but games that take you indoors then outdoors a lot – Jedi Knight does it a chunk as well – could benefit quite a bit. One can dream, though.

  • Has anyone else noticed that when bullets hit enemies, there is no blood or smoke? In normal Quake 2 you can always tell when you hit an enemy, but with this, for some reason, there’s no feedback (other than the enemy animating a stumble or something).

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