They say dead games tell no tales, but this one's code says a lot about the future. It seems like Valve is experimenting with ray-tracing in their Source 2 engine. But the interesting part is the clues pointing towards this are found in Valve's dead card game – Artifact.

Is Artifact getting ray-tracing?

According to two lines of code found by data miner Pavel Djundik, Artifact seems to be getting the ray-tracing treatment soon. While this is all just speculation, for now, the discovery of these two lines of code actually means more than it seems.

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Ray-tracing is a feature available to the latest graphics cards for PCs, which allows computers to accurately simulate the physical behavior of light. This gives games a much more realistic finish, with clearer reflections and accurate lighting. Of all graphics card manufacturers (of which there are just two), it's Nvidia that has mastered ray-tracing thus far. Their Nvidia GeForce RTX 30 series are ray-tracing compatible, which allows computers running with these graphics cards to turn on ray-tracing.

‘Ray-tracing On' for Dota 2 and Half-Life: Alyx?

Valve has two other big games that are built using the Source 2 engine, namely Dota 2 and Half-Life: Alyx. The presence of these two lines in Artifact's code may not mean anything for the card game itself. Instead, the two lines may be relics of code that are supposed to interact with the Source 2 engine. This means that there's a possibility that Valve is experimenting with ray-tracing for their other Source 2 games, such as Dota 2 and Half-Life: Alyx.

Between the two games, it's more plausible for Dota 2 to get the ray-tracing treatment. While its graphics have mostly held up over the past decade, Dota 2 still could use an upgraded look. Meanwhile, it's much more complicated to apply ray-tracing to Half-Life: Alyx, as it is a Virtual-Reality (VR) game. While ray-tracing in VR may sound like a match made in heaven, current technology just can't do that yet. So maybe this is just future-proofing on the side of Valve. Unless…


Ziggy Chavez ·

CS:GO upgrade at last?

CS:GO with ray-tracing, anyone?

Loyal fans of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) call the game “Valve's less-favored son”. Unlike Dota 2, Valve has given CS:GO less attention over the years. However, this new discovery may also point towards a long-overdue upgrade for CS:GO. While there's no confirmation yet, there are rumors that Valve will soon migrate CS:GO to Source 2, making it a better game than before. The timing would also be perfect for a 2021 release, as CS:GO Majors return after a two-year hiatus.

At the end of the day, it's best to temper expectations and not hope too much. There have been numerous times that lines of code that supposedly predicts the future of Valve's games turn out to be a red herring, and this could be just another one of those.