Half-Life: Alyx demonstrated that Valve’s first-person shooter series could work in virtual reality, but who knows when Valve will release another one. Thankfully some modders have stepped in to fill the void. There’s now a publicly playable beta of Half-Life 2: VR Mod available on Steam that makes the nearly 20-year-old shooter playable with a headset and motion controllers.
The mod, which is free for anyone who owns Half-Life 2, makes the game playable from beginning to end. You can use your hands to swing your crowbar, to climb ladders, and to play catch with Dog. When you bend over to pick up the can a Combine soldier knocked to the floor, you’ll see a 3D hand floating in front of you as grab it, and even without Alyx’s gravity gloves there’s a generous ‘pickup’ distance for grabbing spilled weapons and ammo from the floor.
The mod makes other tweaks to support virtual reality. Switching weapons can now be done via a floating radial menu, for example. You can also reload weapons manually just as you do in Half-Life: Alyx, so that grabbing stored ammo from over your shoulder, inserting a new magazine. and sliding back to chamber a bullet are all physical actions (although this can be turned off).
Right now the mod is designed to be played as a room-scale experience, in which you walk around your real space to navigate the game world. While there are comfort features for those who feel motion sickness in VR, including “motion vignette”, there’s currently no teleport-to-walk option so you’ll have to rely on the analogue stick. There is, thankfully, a third-person vehicle camera option, which feels essential given the long hoverboat and car segments.
I haven’t had a chance to get my headset out and try the mod yet, but it sounds like a really impressive package. It’s worth noting that it is in beta however, so you may encounter bugs.
If you want to give it a try, you can download the mod from Steam now.