1998’s Half-Life is one the best games ever made. And now, thanks to a new mod out today, you can play this classic PC shooter with modern ray tracing. It’s yet another classic PC game that has received a sweet-looking upgrade thanks to community modders.
First released in November 1998, alongside a bunch of other great games, Half-Life was the debut game of a little video game studio you might have heard of: Valve Software. The shooter starred silent protag Gordon Freeman as he goes through the worst day of his life in underground research facility Black Mesa. A lot of shooty-shooty stuff happens after aliens invade and Freeman has to try to save the day. Now you can play (or likely replay) this beloved PC shooter with modern, sleek, and impressive 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 it for over a year now. And today, after all the teasing and hype, the mod is out in the wild, ready to be downloaded and installed. You can also check out a new trailer for the mod below:
Setting up this mod isn’t too tricky. After downloading and installing Half-Life, just grab the mod via this GitHub link and then unzip the two folders and plop them in the right spot inside your game’s files. And then play Half-Life using Xash3D, a previously existing open-source port of Valve’s classic PC shooter bundled with the mod. Presto! Just like that, you’ll be killing headcrabs and dodging military ambushes like it’s 1998, but with real-time mirror reflections and fancy-looking shadows. What a world we live in!
Meanwhile, if Half-Life isn’t quite your thing, don’t worry. Plenty of 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 to officially add RT effects to Portal last year.
Personally, I’m excited about all of these classic games 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 super resource-heavy and can make even expensive video cards struggle—especially as 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 much easier to play these titles with ray tracing turned on without melting your rig, letting more people see all the cool benefits these stunning lighting effects can add to a video game.