Nvidia forges ahead with DLSS 3.5, new game support, and… Half-Life?!

 Half-Life 2 key art featuring Gordon Freeman and Alyx Vance.
Half-Life 2 key art featuring Gordon Freeman and Alyx Vance.

Nvidia has announced a new iteration of its powerful game upscaling technology DLSS – though it’s not a fully-fledged DLSS 4. The new version, inventively named DLSS 3.5, is specifically geared towards ray-tracing in games, using a feature called Ray Reconstruction to improve image quality.

It’s not a vast upgrade, but it does serve as an important stepping stone toward true next-gen DLSS (something we likely won’t see until Nvidia releases its RTX 5000 GPUs). The Ray Reconstruction feature replaces hand-tuned denoisers with AI-powered pixel generation, helping to create better image sharpness and detail when using ray-traced graphics.

Since ray tracing is arguably still in its infancy, this is a valuable feature; since its inception with the RTX 2000 generation, ray tracing has always come with a tradeoff in frame rate for the enhanced visual effects it offers – even on some of the best graphics cards out there.

Although DLSS has helped massively (making game graphics presets like Cyberpunk 2077’s infamous ‘Psycho RT’ mode actually playable), gamers often find themselves needing to dial down graphical fidelity in order to use ray-traced graphics. Although DLSS 3.5 doesn’t provide a fresh boost to frame rates, the improved image quality does make using RT graphics presets more appealing. DLSS 3.5 will be initially available in Alan Wake 2, Cyberpunk 2077, and Portal with RTX, with Nvidia promising support for more games coming soon.

Forget about DLSS for a moment – let's talk Half-Life

Now that I’ve got the technical stuff out of the way, let’s talk about the reason you probably clicked this headline in the first place. That’s right – we’re getting a new Half-Life game! Well, kind of. No, it’s not Half-Life 3.

As you might have already guessed, it’s going to be a remaster of the beloved Half-Life 2 using Nvidia’s RTX Remix software, announced last year alongside the RTX 4090. At the time, I was pretty down on Remix, though even I had to admit that seeing The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind reimagined in loving next-gen graphics felt good.

The project, Half-Life 2 RTX: An RTX Remix Project, might have a truly terrible name, but it looks to inject some new life into a now almost 20-year-old game that I personally believe every PC gamer should play at some point. The Remix version is being developed by the Half-Life community, as opposed to the official Portal with RTX free upgrade, which was made in-house by Nvidia’s Lightspeed Studios.

While no release date has been announced yet, Half-Life 2 RTX does have a slick trailer on YouTube and an official page on Nvidia’s blog, so hopefully this won’t be a case of development progress petering out after a few months – something that happens with a lot of community-made content. Needless to say, I’ll probably be booting up the game again once it arrives!

You might also like