Quake II RTX shows what NVIDIA's ray-tracing tech can do for old games

When showing off new graphics tech, you'd usually be treated to glorious photorealistic visuals that hint at the complex calculations that both software and hardware go through. In that context, NVIDIA's decision to use id Software's popular Quake II shooter is an odd one. At the same time, however, it is the perfect example of even an old game like Quake II can feel new and modern with NVIDIA's to new fully path-traced ray-tracing technology.

Launched in 1997, Quake II easily became one of id Software's most popular franchises, second only to Doom. Unlike Doom, however, Quake grew more rapidly, releasing game after game covering various FPS genres. Part of what set Quake apart from Doom was the use of a full real-time 3D rendering which may not look that impressive in modern eyes.

Enter NVIDIA and its new ray-tracing tech and RTX graphics cards. The Quake II RTX mod seemingly pulls the title to the 21st century with a few new models and textures but while preserving the exact same gameplay. It's like seeing the game in a totally different light, and NVIDIA means that literally.

Quake II RTX isn't just a simple mod, though. As the name implies, it's really a demo of NVIDIA's latest hyped graphics technology. Ray-tracing has been one of the holy grails of computer graphics but has been limited to offline rendering using extremely expensive graphics hardware. NVIDIA's spiel here is that you can get all of that, too, with just an NVIDIA RTX card.

Of course, that means you'll need a PC that has at least an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 and 8 GB of RAM. Curiously, the game supports both Windows 7 and Ubuntu 16.04 or later. The first three levels of Quake II RTX is available for free on Steam and from NVIDIA directly but if you already own the full game, you can get an installer from NVIDIA that will unlock the changes for the entire game as well.