Something to look forward to: Developers and modders have been trying to make Valve’s seminal Half-Life 2 playable in VR for almost a decade. The latest attempt, long-dormant, still has a ways to go before full completion, but will hit a major development milestone next month.
This week, a team of modders announced they’re releasing a VR mod for Half-Life 2 into public beta in September. The primary aspects of the mod seem to be complete but the team still wants to improve it.
The beta will let Half-Life 2 owners play the main story from start to finish in VR. All the weapons will support VR functions like reloading by hand, dual wielding, and optional laser sights. Players will also have room-scale movement, head or controller-oriented movement, snap turning, smooth turning, and an optional vignette to prevent motion sickness.
Half-life 2 VR should work on any headset that supports Steam VR, including the Index, Quest, Vive, and Pimax. However, the beta might not come to Steam. The modders plan to offer an independent installer that will require an existing Half-Life 2 installation. Hopefully, the final release will have a Steam page from which users can easily add it to their libraries like many other Half-Life 2 mods.
After the beta, the modders plan to add the Half-Life 2 episodes, which require a different build to fix some bugs. They also want to improve the hand animations, movement controls, textures, lighting, and other details. The team promises the visual upgrades – using AI upscaling and manual touch-ups – will be faithful to the look of the original 2004 classic.
Half-Life 2 VR will eventually be open-source if nothing legally prevents the modders from doing so. Any other Half-Life 2 mod that doesn’t use custom DLLs should be playable in VR, which could include some custom campaigns.
The first Half-Life 2 VR mod launched in 2013, but lapsed Source engine VR support made it incompatible with more recent VR headsets. The current effort, which started development in 2017, seeks to correct this by moving frames from the DirectX 9 game into modern headsets that require DirectX 10 or 11.
The mod disappeared after getting stuck in development hell, but new team members revived the project last year and have since provided regular progress updates.
It’s unclear if Half-Life 2 VR will borrow ideas from Valve’s official Half-Life VR title, Half-Life: Alyx, but that wouldn’t be surprising. Alyx will also receive a mod later this year in the form of Levitation, a new custom campaign.