Nothing sells new graphics technologies like old games. That's partly attributable to the nostalgia factor, sure, but having a reference point also makes it easier to demonstrate the benefits of whatever a company wants to sell. Which is why Nvidia's Lightspeed Studios today released Quake II RTX.
Quake II RTX was announced during Computex 2019 by Nvidia senior vice president Jeff Fisher. The first three levels of the game are available for free; access to the entire single-player campaign as well as the game's multiplayer requires a copy of the original Quake II. The game's Steam page says that in addition to enabling real-time ray tracing, Quake II RTX boasts improves textures and "dozens of other changes and improvements."
Unfortunately, those improvements require a bit of finagling to get working. People who already own Quake II can download the Quake II RTX installer and enable the release's offerings easily enough. Going the other way around can be a bit tricky. Nvidia explained the process in an FAQ.
The company also made a few caveats regarding the quality of Quake II RTX's multiplayer gameplay. It said in the FAQ article:
Due to the fact we have limited resources to support multiplayer server, we may not be able to address all issues.Gameplay experience may vary on multiplayer.Rockets and other items may disappear in certain pools of water, which were opaque in the original Quake II;Flare gun will not be available;Gameplay mods or custom maps may be incompatible with Q2RTX.
Those concessions are to be expected. This isn't supposed to be a blockbuster remaster of a classic game, it's just a way for Nvidia to offer a mostly free game that RTX graphics card owners can use to justify their purchase until other developers start to support the lineup's defining feature. The company's struggled to sell RTX products; the last thing it needs is RTX owners regretting their purchase because ray tracing isn't popular yet.
You can download Quake II RTX from Nvidia's website or Steam. Anyone who wants to experience more of the remastered version of the game can also purchase the original from Steam for just $5. That's an admittedly solid deal for anyone looking for a better-looking take on a classic title.
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Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.