The GeForce RTX cards are able to tackle real-time ray tracing thanks to their dedicated hardware RT and Tensor cores, and also support Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS). All of that processing power is put to good use in Quake II RTX, which NVIDIA says is the world's first game that is fully path-traced, which means that lighting effects like shadows, reflections, and refractions are all combined into a single ray-tracing algorithm.
“We are giving Quake II back to gamers with a bold new look, as Quake II RTX,” said GeForce marketing head Matt Wuebbling. “Ray tracing is the technology that is defining the next generation of PC games, and it’s fitting that Quake II is a part of that.”
Quake II RTX is based on the work of Ph.D. student -- and former NVIDIA employee -- Christoph Schied, who originally debuted his Quake II Pathtraced (Q2VKPT) proof-of-concept shortly after CES 2019. NVIDIA's "shipping" Quake II RTX requires that you have Windows 10 Version 1903 (May 2019 Update) installed and that you have Game Ready Driver 430.86 (or newer) installed.
You will of course also need a GeForce RTX card, although Turing-based GeForce GTX cards can still run them game with limited ray-tracing effects enabled and greatly reduced performance. NVIDIA says that RTX effects are enabled by default, but that you can toggle the effects on/off by hitting ESC, navigating to Video, and then cycling through the rendering modes.
NVIDIA is making Quake II RTX available in one of two ways: you can either get it from Steam, or download it directly from NVIDIA.com. If you don't already own Quake II, Quake II RTX gives you the first three single-player levels only in full ray-tracing glory to play. If you already own the full game (now priced at $4.99), Quake II RTX will let you experience the full ray-tracing experience across the whole single-player campaign, deathmatch and co-op multiplayer modes.