Ray traced Half-Life mod is finally here and looks incredible
It's a momentous day, my friends, because we can finally answer the most controversial question in videogaming: Does Gordon Freeman wear a helmet? It's all thanks to a fan-made ray tracing mod for the original Half-Life that increases the game's moody lighting quotient by a factor of ten, and finally, finally lets you get a look in those bathroom mirrors. It comes from a creator called sultim_t, who's been teasing this project for a while, and you can download it for free over at their GitHub page.
For whatever reason, I always seem to be more impressed by ray tracing when it shows up in golden oldies than when it's applied to modern releases, and that's no different here. Half-Life looks astounding draped in the latest lighting tech: Zombies seem much more foreboding when they're lit from below and smattered in shadows, and watching Vortigaunts become subsumed by green light as they charge their attacks is genuinely intimidating. No amount of ray tracing will stop them from going down in one revolver blast, though.
The author doesn't go into much detail about how they made the mod or what kind of machine you'll need to use to get it working. But naturally, you're gonna need a card that can handle ray tracing tech, meaning a 20-series Nvidia card or 6000-series AMD card at least. Beyond that, you just need to download the two .zip files on the GitHub page into your Half-Life folder, run xash3d.exe, and voilà, ray traced Gordons as far as the eye can see.
You can even grab optional DLSS functionality from the same page as the ray tracing mod, if you're keen to see Half-Life with all the modern bells and whistles. Installing that one's no trouble either, you just need to drop it into the ray tracing mod's folder and let it overwrite what it needs to overwrite.
Like I said, I'm a sucker for this kind of stuff, and still sometimes slip into daydreams about what Deus Ex's Hong Kong would look like if its neon-slick streets were fully ray traced. So if someone smarter than me fancies getting on that, go ahead. For now, I'll just have to content myself with going goo-goo eyed over ray traced Quake and Doom.
* This article was originally published here