Bottom line: The ray-traced release trailer showcases a version of Half-Life with enhanced visuals that add a new dimension of depth to the nearly 25-year-old game. Basically everything is the same, just with the mod everything looks much better.
The long-awaited unofficial ray tracing mod for Half-Life has been released.
A little over a year ago, modder Sultim “sultim_t” Tsyrendashiev shared on YouTube a teaser of a new project that adds real-time path tracing with hardware acceleration to the original first-person shooter from Valve. The mod, a redesigned version of an earlier work, promised improvements such as reflections, global lighting, refraction and soft shadows.
sultim_t said that the playable build and its accompanying source code will be released on GitHub when it is ready. “These things take time,” the modder warned.
Fast forward a little more than a year, and sultim_t delivered.
sultim_t quickly gained a solid reputation in the modder community. Previous projects include ray tracing mods for Serious Sam, Quake and Doom, as well as official mods such as Quake II RTX from Nvidia and Bethesda. Digital Foundry described the sultim_t Quake project as not so much a mod as a complete ray tracing remaster.
Everything you need to install and work with the Half-Life ray tracing mod (with the exception of the game itself) has been uploaded to GitHub along with instructions for installing it and a list of known problems. sultim_t warns that some users may encounter incompatibility issues with AMD GPUs, and notes that Hazard Course is not yet supported.
Of course, you’ll need a copy of Half-Life. sultim_t recommends the Steam version, which can currently be purchased for $9.99 via the digital distribution platform.
Half-Life has been the source of several modifications and remakes since its debut back in 1998. Among the best is Black Mesa, a fan reinterpretation of the original, which eventually received the blessing of Valve and was launched on Steam in 2020. priced at $19.99 and has over 85,000 reviews, of which 95 percent are positive.