An update for the original Doom added ray-tracing — yes, really

Time to play Doom again.


Image via Nintendo

The original Doom is one of the classics that never goes away, continually ported to new platforms and updated with quality of life features. The most recent update to the 1993 shooter adds ray-tracing on PC, which might be the excuse you needed for another playthrough.

A modder by the name of Sultim Tsyrendashiev released the ray-tracing mod on PC on April 1 through Github, leading many to pass it off as some joke. As it turns out, it’s real and it’s available right now. After properly configuring your game files, you can play the first three episodes of the nearly 30-year-old shooter with a ray-traced lighting pipeline.

This ray-traced lighting begins with the skybox, which is now a fully emissive light source that influences the level’s outdoor lighting. This emissive skybox can also seep into interiors, casting light and shadows in spots that didn’t have them.

Emissive lighting and global illumination extends to several other aspects of the presentation from barrels to polygonal lights. The various explosive barrels scattered throughout Doom now act as a light source, casting light from the exposed top, with that light bouncing around the scene. This mod also pays special attention to muzzle flashes and projectiles, such as the Imp’s fireballs, all being included within the ray-tracing pipeline.

Because the original artwork did not have any real material properties, many of its assets have been updated to work with the ray-tracing while keeping the original intent of the spritework intact, simply at a higher resolution.

Certain materials, such as blood, appear radically different, but most assets maintain the original artwork. Due to the nature of reworking so much of the game’s old technology to incorporate a modern lighting solution, however, not every scene successfully translates the original mood. Certain areas can appear much moodier, whereas others are less atmospheric.