Portal 2: Desolation is giving the classic puzzle game a major graphical overhaul

Portal 2: Desolation is a fan project that is currently in development, a new singleplayer campaign in the Portal setting. It’s basically a community-made Portal 3, or at least Portal 2.5, being made “in honor of Valve’s iconic series”, as Emberspark Games puts it. Developers spent the past year making Desolation’s graphics slick, which meant completely replacing the Source Engine’s rendering and lighting pipeline.

While Portal 2 already looked good, its lighting was incorporated via a separate editor once the levels were set, and the results could only be seen after the maps were compiled. Any changes to light sources meant recompiling again, which is a time consuming process, especially as maps get larger and compilation times expand.

The Desolation team added a real-time lighting system so the lighting can be edited as they go. It looks prettier too. I think the most impressive part of the whole display, which you can watch above, is when the red lights from the towers illuminate pipes and other surfaces as they flash over them.

The Desolation team also worked hard to improve surface rendering, reflections, and more. Their goal was to ask, “What would Aperture Science look like if it received the same treatment that City 17 did for its updated representation in Half-Life: Alyx?” I would love a Portal game even if it didn’t look brilliant, but this work is still pretty impressive and certainly answers the question they set out to ask.

Desolation’s campaign will feature original characters and locations, and will take place years after the events of Portal 2. Apparently, it will feature “hours of fast-paced puzzle solving driven by an epic new narrative.” That’s quite a promise, but let’s cross our fingers and hope that the Desolation team can deliver. Check your web site for more information.

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