Valve’s Half-Life looks amazing with Ray Tracing Mod

Gif: Valve / Sultim-t / Kotaku

Half-Life from 1998 is one of the best games of all time. And now, thanks to a new mod releasing today, you can play this classic PC shooter with modern ray tracing. It’s another classic PC game that’s got a cute looking upgrade thanks to community modders.

First released in November 1998, Half-Life was the debut game, along with a slew of other great games, from a small video game studio you may have heard of: Valve Software. The shooter starred the silent protagonist Gordon Freeman, who is going through the worst day of his life at the Black Mesa underground research facility. After an alien invasion, a lot of shooty shoot stuff happens and Freeman has to try to save the day. Now you can play (or probably repeat) this popular PC shooter with modern, sleek and stunning ray-traced lighting, giving the game a whole new look and feel that I really, really like.

This new mod for Half-Life comes courtesy of Sultim-t, who has been teasing him for over a year. And today, after all the teasing and hype, the mod is in the wild, ready to download and install. You can also check out a new trailer for the mod below:


Setting up this mod is not too difficult. Once you’ve downloaded and installed Half-Life, simply grab the mod from this GitHub link, unzip the two folders and place them in the correct location in your game’s files. And then play Half-Life with Xash3D, a pre-existing open-source port of Valve’s classic PC shooter bundled with the mod. Presto! Just like that, you’ll slay headcrabs and dodge military ambushes like it’s 1998, but with real-time specular reflections and snazzy looking shadows. What a world we live in!

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Other classic PC games with ray tracing mods

In the meantime, don’t worry if Half-Life isn’t quite your thing. Many other classic PC games including Max Payne and Doom have recently received similar ray tracing overhauls via community mods. All of this is part of a larger trend to add ray tracing to older games. Valve even partnered with Nvidia last year to officially add RT effects to Portal.

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Personally, I’m excited that all of these classic games are getting ray tracing mods and features. I still feel like most PCs and consoles aren’t really ready to run huge modern games with ray tracing, which is very resource intensive and can get even expensive graphics cards in trouble – especially since so many modern games seem to launch in a poorly optimized state. But older games like Doom and Quake run incredibly well on modern PCs, and it’s a lot easier to play these titles with ray tracing enabled without melting your rig, allowing more people to see all the cool benefits that these stunning lighting effects bring to a video game can add.