clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Portal is getting a ray-traced upgrade this fall

Portal with RTX coming in November, free for existing owners

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

Portal fans will be able to see the test chambers 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 during his Nvidia GTC keynote on Tuesday, Portal with RTX “reimagines the classic game’s graphics with full ray tracing and entirely new art evocative of the original,” Nvidia said in a blog post. In terms of what exactly “full ray tracing” means, Nvidia said that the game will use ray tracing for every light and the shadows it casts, as well as for indirect lighting and global illumination; light scattering through volumetric effects such as fog and smoke; and reflections based on materials like metal surfaces. Many more details are available in the blog post.

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

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

Nvidia said that its in-house Lightspeed Studios team made 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, that Nvidia will release for free to the public. Nvidia described RTX Remix as a “modding platform” that “can add ray tracing with just a few clicks, and gives modders the tools to make ambitious remasters, even for games that were previously unmoddable.”

Lightspeed did extensive work to reimagine Portal with ray tracing, including the effort of adding texture to walls so that light interacts with them more. “As for surfaces, if they’re flat, as most were in games back in 2007, light won’t react realistically,” said Nvidia. “In the process of remaking each of Portal’s surface materials, we’ve introduced detail, such as bumps, divots and rivets, allowing light to fall across them accurately, bouncing light, creating new shadows, and generating accurate reflections.”

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