Portal with RTX updates the game with ray tracing

Portal fans will be able to see the testing rooms of Aperture Science in a whole new light this fall, when Nvidia releases Portal with RTX, an updated version of the classic first-person platformer that brings ray-traced graphics to the game.

Announced by Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang at his Nvidia GTC keynote on Tuesday, Portal with RTX “reimagines the graphics of the classic game with full ray tracing and all-new art reminiscent of the original,” Nvidia said in a blog post. In terms of exactly what “full ray tracing” means, Nvidia said the game will use ray tracing for every light and the shadows it casts, as well as indirect lighting and global lighting; light scattering by volumetric effects such as fog and smoke; and reflections based on materials such as metal surfaces. Much more details are available in the blog post.

Portal with RTX will be available as free downloadable content to people who already own the original Portal, Nvidia announced. Presumably this only refers to those who have a copy on Steam; Nvidia’s blog post links to a Steam entry for Portal with RTX. Nvidia refers to it as a mod for the original game; it’s unclear if it will be possible to purchase Portal separately with RTX, without owning a copy of Portal. It’s worth noting that while the add-on’s name includes “RTX” — a term Nvidia uses to market its ray-tracing graphics cards and associated technologies — the Steam page states that Portal will be “compatible with RTX.” are with all ray tracing compatible tracing from suitable GPUs.”

Everything in Portal with RTX emits more glow and reflects more light. Image: Lightspeed Studios/Nvidia and Image: Lightspeed Studios/Nvidia

Nvidia said the in-house Lightspeed Studios team created Portal with RTX by building on its experience adding ray tracing to Quake 2 and Minecraft. But Lightspeed developed Portal with RTX using a new tool, Nvidia RTX Remix, which Nvidia will release to the public for free. Nvidia described RTX Remix as a “modding platform” that “can add ray tracing in just a few clicks, giving modders the tools to make ambitious remasters even for games that couldn’t be modified before.”

Lightspeed has done a lot of work to reshape Portal with ray tracing, including the effort to add texture to walls so that the light responds to them more. “As for surfaces, if they’re flat, as most were in games in 2007, light won’t react realistically,” Nvidia said. “While recreating each of Portal’s surface materials, we introduced details such as bumps, grooves, and rivets, which allow light to pass over them accurately, reflecting the light, creating new shadows and generating accurate reflections.”

Portal with RTX was co-designed as a showcase for the new GeForce RTX 40 series graphics cards that Nvidia also announced Tuesday. As such, it launches with support for DLSS 3, the latest version of Nvidia’s proprietary image reconstruction technology, which requires the aforementioned GPUs to work. Portal with RTX is slated for release in November – 15 years after the original game debuted, and will launch the same month as the RTX 4080.

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