One of the most interesting releases of the year isn’t a modern game at all — it’s a refreshed look at a 22 year-old title. Quake II probably isn’t a game a lot of modern players are even familiar with, which adds to some of the interest around the work Nvidia has done to refresh this decidedly ancient game with a massive facelift.
According to NV, the RTX-enabled version of Quake II will play on a GeForce RTX graphics card “or other capable hardware,” which likely means this release is essentially an NV exclusive. It is, however, a smart idea to allow people to experience ray tracing on older GPUs. Virtually any NV GPU that supports RTX ray tracing (and Nvidia has enabled the capability on its Pascal family of GPUs) should be able to handle Quake II, given the game’s absolutely anemic requirements in every other category. We’ve already seen how games with modest GPU requirements can be upgraded to stunning effect with a recent mod that added path tracing to Minecraft.
- The upcoming release will be additionally enhanced with the following:
- Improved Global Illumination rendering, with three selectable quality presets, including two-bounce GI
- Multiplayer support
- Time of day options that radically change the appearance of some levelsNew weapon models & textures
- New dynamic environments (Stroggos surface, and space)
- Better physically based atmospheric scattering, including settings for Stroggos sky
- Real-time reflectivity of the player and weapon model on water and glass surfaces, and player model shadows, for owners of the complete game (the original Shareware release does not include player models)
- Improved ray tracing denoising technology
- All 3,000+ original game textures have been updated with a mix of Q2XP mod-pack textures and our own enhancements
- Updated effects with new sprites and particle animations
- Dynamic lighting for items such as blinking lights, signs, switches, elevators and moving objects
- Caustics approximation to improve water lighting effects
- High-quality screenshot mode that makes your screenshots look even betterSupport for the old OpenGL renderer, enabling you to switch between RTX ON and RTX OFF
Cylindrical projection mode for wide-angle field of view on widescreen displays
An explanation of how ray tracing works in Quake II is below. If you just want to see some gameplay footage, NV’s launch video is also embedded below:
According to Nvidia, at least an RTX 2060 is recommended, but Nvidia has a strong interest in pumping up their own GPU line. We would hope the company sensibly paid some attention to making sure the game will run well on Pascal, even if it isn’t emphasizing that fact in its own marketing.
The Quake II chaingun remains my favorite chaingun implementation of any title ever, and I’m looking forward to seeing what NV has done with one of the seminal FPS titles ever published. Quake II was id’s first attempt to write a game with a real story, and I wouldn’t recommend anyone go into it expecting a thrilling, nuanced tale of derring-do — it’s going to be a bit primitive by modern gaming standards. But I suspect it’ll hold up remarkably well and I’m looking forward to taking it for a test drive.
This release will be limited to the first three levels of the game unless you have the full version installed on your system, in which case you’ll be able to play the entire release. Nvidia will also release the source code for their own mod, allowing it to be made compatible with the other QII mods that have been developed over the game’s life.
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