Home Video Games Half-Life 2’s Excellent PC VR Mod Is Almost Too Good To Be True

Half-Life 2’s Excellent PC VR Mod Is Almost Too Good To Be True

Half-Life 2’s Excellent PC VR Mod Is Almost Too Good To Be True


Gif: Valve / Source VR Mod Team / Kotaku

As of final week, a long-held dream of enjoying Valve’s landmark 2004 shooter Half-Life 2 in digital actuality has lastly come to fruition. The journey started almost 10 years in the past, when a person named Nathan Andrews managed to hack collectively a functioning model of the all-time basic in VR. This was earlier than any Vives, Indexes, Quests, or Oculi. With a primitive Sony HMZ-T1 and specialised motion-tracking gear, Andrews risked a resonance cascade situation to splice collectively a working basis for a full Half-Life 2 VR mod. Over the following decade, dozens of volunteers would contribute to the off-then-on-again challenge, all in hopes of at some point bashing enemies with a crowbar in semi-lifelike digital actuality.

And now Half Life 2: VR Mod is able to play, due to the onerous work of the Source VR Mod Team and their free, open beta out there on Steam. There’s extra work to be carried out for positive—a public roadmap exhibits what’s to come back—however your complete foremost marketing campaign is already up and operating, and fairly surreal to expertise. Sharp corners and all, Half-Life 2: VR Mod is effectively price testing proper now when you can.

The variations are fairly speedy. The G-Man’s opening scene grants an entire different sense of scale since you may have lively depth notion. Images flash and seem inside him as totally realized 3D areas, which you’ll be able to truly peer inside and see with higher depth and dimension. This new presentation grants extra weight to the entire scene.

Gif: Valve / Source VR Mod Team / Kotaku

As a online game graphics expertise in VR, it’s tremendous cool. Your eyes can observe flying particles and exploding barrels with the benefit and pace of simply turning your head. The violence and practical physics of Half-Life 2 are not simply simulations showing on a display screen in entrance of you; they’re taking place in a 3D area you are feeling a way of presence and dimension in. It all feels so pure that it’s simple to overlook that is the top results of a decade of hacked tech created by enthusiastic followers.

And whereas there’s nonetheless extra work to be carried out on the weapons, it’s a thrill to have the ability to nearly maintain, study, and combat with these basic online game armaments. Smashing the aggressive, flying manhacks with a crowbar in VR is so obscenely enjoyable that I desire a mini spin-off mod of this alone. And my Fitbit tells me I’m incomes “Zone Minutes” by whacking this stuff. The 9mm pistol feels enjoyable to purpose and shoot (and sure, I’m solely aiming with one hand). More fashionable VR video games are likely to have smoother reload mechanics, so this mod’s really feel a bit clunky typically, however the motion stays simply as hectic and enjoyable.

Half-Life 2 VR Mod Brings City 17 To Life

In a approach it seems like Half-Life 2 was all the time alleged to be this manner. It may be very simple to lose your self on this mod, each as a VR expertise and a Half-Life one. It simply pushes previous the standing of “tech demo” or “mod,” feeling prefer it’s shaping as much as be a stable VR recreation in its personal proper.

The Half-Life 2: VR Mod challenge is at present being labored on by customers from the Flatscreen to VR Discord server, led by WormSlayer, whose involvement goes again to the earliest days of the challenge. Back then, WormSlayer caught sight of Andrews’ early prototypes and provided his abilities, beginning with work on the gun fashions.

WormSlayer’s description of the mod’s early days feels like one thing you’d must slap collectively to outlive City 17 itself. The assemblage of tech included a “Sony head-mounted TV, a gun controller for a console, and a professional 3D tracking system [Andrews] had access to,” WormSlayer informed Kotaku. That headset in query was the Sony HMZ-T1, which sported “an eye-watering resolution of 640×720 per eye, and a 45-degree field of view,” WormSlayer stated. That headset can be left behind in favor of the Oculus DK1, the primary {hardware} the just-incorporated Oculus (now Meta) ever launched. You can see footage from these early days in a 2013 YouTube video.

Nathan Andrews

As such an early client VR experiment, the challenge was destined for some roadbumps as new tech hit the scene, rapidly growing older out current requirements. “Valve and Oculus both abandoned the idea of treating a VR headset as just another monitor,” WormSlayer stated. “This was a sound idea for many reasons, but it effectively broke VR support in Half-Life 2.”

After that swap up, the crew gave up for some time. Andrews retired from the challenge solely. Eager VR neighborhood members, nevertheless, persuaded WormSlayer to rethink dropping all of it collectively. “[They] were confident they could hack OpenVR support into the old project,” WormSlayer stated. And so the challenge sparked to life once more, making nice progress earlier than as soon as once more resuming its slumber as important contributors moved on.

Thankfully, the nascent Half-Life 2: VR Mod would certainly see a second resurgence when the Flatscreen to VR neighborhood mustered up a brand new crew. Now that the general public beta is out and playable, they’re focusing their efforts on bringing the challenge to a totally polished and finalized state.

As playable and enjoyable as it’s proper now, Half-Life 2: VR Mod nonetheless has some points, primarily relating to efficiency. “The old engine is very single-threaded and only supports DirectX 9, so even with our hacked-together DXVK implementation, we’ve been fighting to hit FPS targets in some places,” WormSlayer stated. While I’ve but to get to a number of the extra chaotic scenes of the sport’s latter half, I’ve discovered efficiency up to now to be fairly good. Given that there’s no teleport-style motion possibility, nevertheless, this mod could be powerful on the abdomen when you’re new to VR.

Ultimately, the physics and tech of Half-Life 2 are nonetheless a pleasure to play with 18 years later. VR solely amplifies the physicality of its world, with the flexibility to nearly decide up and manipulate objects. Half-Life 2: VR Mod is not any Half-Life: Alyx when it comes to the sheer quantity of interactable objects, however it suits in effectively as a VR-worthy prequel. And with the addition of the crowbar and a head-mounted flashlight, it has various options and comforts of its personal. Being capable of nearly manipulate objects on this planet is a refreshing approach to revisit lots of the recreation’s puzzles.

The most shocking factor for me, nevertheless, was how this expertise is affecting my notion of the sport’s characters, particularly the silent protagonist himself.

Gif: Valve / Source VR Mod Team / Kotaku

Gordon Freeman is a quiet man even when he’s frantically destroying shit. But even simply having the ability to nod at an NPC marks a 100% enhance in inter-character interplay. Playing Half-Life 2 and having the ability to wave at Dr. Kleiner as he shouts with pleasure upon seeing you makes me surprise: Is Gordon Freeman even a waver? Does he give a thumbs as much as point out he understands? Does he shake or nod his head when individuals speak to him? How have I by no means considered this for all these years?

NPCs additionally take a look at you at eye stage in a really eerie approach. This feeling exists in different, extra fashionable VR video games, however it’s shocking to seek out it so current in a recreation from 2004. The simplicity of the fashions, with mild head animations and eyes that give a touch of persona and consciousness, simply barely inches the sport out of the uncanny valley into one thing that begins to really feel practical.

I’m not saying nodding, gesturing, and searching individuals within the eyes are the recent options you checklist on the again of the field (that’s saved for viciously beating the shit out of steel manhacks with a crowbar and seeing this basic recreation in true 3D), however it positive does change the tone of Half-Life 2. One nitpick right here: It’s a disgrace you may’t see your fingers whereas piloting the airboat. Not solely did my eyes by no means depart the G-Man as I blazed previous him in my escape from the Combine, I’d’ve beloved to stare and level lifeless at him, as if to say “I see you motherfucker. I see you.”

I’m trying ahead to enjoying by the remainder of Half-Life 2: VR Mod, recognizing the distinctive modifications the brand new format provides and conjures up. There’s nonetheless work to be carried out by WormSlayer and the crew, together with extra enhancements to the weapons, tweaks to make the sport a bit simpler for people liable to movement illness, and even some AI-upscaled textures to offer the extra aged elements of the graphics a little bit of a facelift. Those modifications can be very welcome, however for now this primary playable model makes for a good way to leap again into this basic recreation. If you want Half-Life and personal a PCVR headset, you must obtain this yesterday.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here