Could ray-tracing be on the way for Source 2 games like Half-Life: Alyx?

Code from a recent Artifact beta update suggests Valve may be playing around with ray-tracing and RTX rendering in the Source 2 engine.


Artifact isn’t really a game that makes waves, nor does it seem likely to anytime in the near future, but that doesn’t mean Valve isn’t updating it or that it doesn’t still have its uses. Artifact is a Source 2 game, and as Valve continues to update it, sometimes the code of the game includes curious tidbits that could hint at possibilities in other Source 2 games (like DOTA 2 or Half-Life: Alyx for instance). Such could be the case with bits of code in the latest Artifact update that suggests ray-tracing and Nvidia RTX rendering could be in the works in Source 2.

SteamDB founder Pavel Djundik discovered the interesting bits of code in Artifact’s new beta update, as posted on his personal Twitter. Djundik links to the GitHub code of the new update where it can be found that references to “RTX” and a “Raytracing Shader” can be found in the new update. Theoretically, it may suggest that Valve is playing with the graphical options in the Source 2 engine and Artifact is the testing ground for this effort.

As abysmal as Artifact has been, with Valve pulling back support for the game as late as 2019, it would make sense to use the game as a testing ground. Currently, Artifact, DOTA 2, DOTA Underlords, and the stellar Shacknews 2020 Game of the Year, Half-Life: Alyx, are the only games that run on the newer Source 2 engine, but continuing updates have also suggested as recently as October 2020 that Valve may be continuing to work on bringing other games over to Source 2 such as the hugely popular CSGO, as reported by Dexerto.

It remains to be seen what this amounts to. It could just simply be some lines of code left in absent-mindedly, it could be a purposeful misdirect, or it could mean Valve has some big plans for games running on the Source 2 engine in the near future. All we’re saying is that if Artifact gets ray-tracing so games like Half-Life: Alyx will get it later, then we might have to change our minds about the importance of Artifact in the grand scheme of things. Stay tuned as we continue to follow this topic for more concrete information and updates.

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

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