Portal with RTX might be overkill, but at least it’s free DLC on Steam
September 20, 20222 min read
New ray-traced version coming in November
Whenever someone goes back to refresh the visuals of an iconic video game with a very established and well-remembered look, things can get a bit funky. So while I understand the appeal of something like Portal with RTX, a "reimagined" Portal kitted out with ray tracing, that doesn't mean it's strictly better. It's different! And you may or may not dig it.
Alongside (pricey!) GeForce RTX 40 series GPUs, Nvidia announced Portal with RTX as free DLC coming to Steam in November for Portal owners. 15 years later, if you can believe it.
"Every light is ray-traced and casts shadows, global illumination indirect lighting naturally illuminates and darkens rooms, volumetric ray-traced lighting scatters through fog and smoke, and shadows are pixel perfect," according to Nvidia's announcement.
While the detailed surfaces are immediately noticeable, some comparison screenshots are more flattering than others, so it's best to watch the trailer to get a comprehensive view before you start messing with sliders on Nvidia's lengthy blog post that breaks down Portal with RTX. It's not just lighting — there's also "new art evocative of the original."
As the game's Steam page notes, "Portal with RTX is compatible with all ray-tracing capable GPUs." It's a sparse listing, but there are screenshots (and you can wishlist).
I like that this is DLC, rather than a forced update. We're not always that fortunate.
[caption id="attachment_345318" align="alignnone" width="1920"] The Companion Cube has a new glow.[/caption]
Portal is only the beginning (if you're into mods)
This flashy project came to fruition at Nvidia Lightspeed Studios, following earlier RTX upgrades for Quake II and Minecraft. There's more where that came from, too.
Nvidia will be releasing RTX Remix, a free modding platform for supported PC games that "can add ray tracing with just a few clicks." While Portal with RTX is the main showcase, Nvidia also showed off glossed-up scenes from 2002's The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind.
"RTX Remix Mods work alongside existing gameplay mods downloaded from Nexus Mods or other sites, giving games with rich modded content an instant ray-traced upgrade," the company said. It also noted that "previously unmoddable" games will be compatible with these tools, and "every RTX Mod also comes packaged with the RTX Remix Runtime editor, giving players a multitude of options to customize their experience in real-time."
Whether you're a modder or just a player, expect lots of new possibilities for supported DirectX 8 and DX9 games. No shade, but I'm curious to see fan creations that take a more nuanced, measured approach to upgrading outdated lighting. Less is more sometimes.