As of last week, an old dream of playing Valve’s historical shooter from 2004 half life 2 in virtual reality has finally come true. The journey began almost 10 years ago, when a man named Nathan Andrews managed to hack a working version of the all-time classic in virtual reality. This was before any Vives, Indexes, Quests or Oculi. With a primitive Sony HMZ-T1 and specialized motion-tracking equipment, Andrews risked a resonance cascade scenario to splice a working foundation for a complete half life 2 Virtual reality mode. Over the next decade, dozens of volunteers would contribute to the intermittent project, all in the hope of one day beating enemies with a crowbar in near-real virtual reality.
And now Half Life 2: Virtual Reality Mode is ready to play, thanks to the hard work of the Source VR modding team and them Free open beta available on Steam. I’m sure there’s more work to be done—a public roadmap It shows what’s to come, but the entire main campaign is already underway and it’s pretty surreal to experience. Sharp corners and all, Half-Life 2: Virtual Reality Mode It’s worth checking out right now if you can.
The differences are quite immediate. The G-Man opening scene gives a completely different sense of scale as you have active depth perception. Images flicker and appear within it as fully realized 3D spaces, in which you can look inside and see with greater depth and dimension. This new presentation gives more weight to the whole scene.
As a VR gaming graphics experience, it’s great. Your eyes can track flying debris and exploding barrels with the ease and speed of turning your head. The violence and realistic physics of half life 2 They are no longer just simulations that appear on a screen in front of you; they are happening in a 3D space where you feel a sense of presence and dimension. It all feels so natural that it’s easy to forget that this is the end result of a decade of hacked technology created by enthusiastic fans.
And while there’s still a lot of work to be done on weapons, it’s exciting to be able to virtually hold, examine, and fight with these classic video game weaponry. breaking the aggressive and flying manhacks using a joystick in VR is so obscenely fun that I want a mini mod derived from this alone. And my Fitbit tells me I’m earning “Zone Minutes” by hitting these things. The 9mm pistol feels fun to point and shoot (and yes, I’m only aiming with one hand). Newer VR games tend to have smoother reload mechanics, so this mod feels a bit clunky at times, but the action is still just as frenetic and fun.
Somehow it feels like half life 2 it was always supposed to be that way. It’s very easy to get lost in this mod, both as a VR experience and as a Half life a. It easily gets past “tech demo” or “mod” status, and feels like it’s shaping up to be a solid VR game in its own right.
the Half-Life 2: Virtual Reality Mode The project is currently being worked on by users of the Flatscreen to VR Discord server, led by WormSlayer, whose involvement dates back to the early days of the project. Back then, WormSlayer saw Andrews prototyped early and offered his talents, beginning with work on model weapons.
WormSlayer’s description from the early days of the mod sounds like something you’d need to put together to survive City 17. The tech suite included a “head-mounted TV from Sony, a gun controller for a console, and a 3D tracking system.” professional. [Andrews] had access,” WormSlayer said. Kotaku. That headset in question was the Sony HMZ-T1, which had “a stunning 640×720 resolution per eye and a 45-degree field of view,” WormSlayer said. That headset would be left behind in favor of oculus dk1, the first hardware released by the newly incorporated Oculus (now Meta). You can see footage of those early days in a YouTube video from 2013.
As one of the first consumer virtual reality experiments, the project was bound to hit some hurdles as new technology hit the scene, quickly outpacing existing standards. “Valve and Oculus have abandoned the idea of treating VR headsets as just another monitor,” said WormSlayer. “This was a good idea for many reasons, but it effectively broke VR support in half life 2.”
After that change, the team gave up for a while. Andrews withdrew from the project entirely. However, anxious members of the VR community persuaded WormSlayer to reconsider leaving it all together. “[They] they were confident that they could hack OpenVR support in the previous project,” said WormSlayer. And so the project sprang to life again, making great progress before once again resuming its dormancy as essential contributors moved on.
Fortunately, the nascent Half-Life 2: Virtual Reality Mode in fact it would see a second resurgence when the Flatscreen to VR community got together a new team. Now that the public beta is out and playable, they are focusing their efforts on bringing the project to a fully polished and finalized state.
As playable and fun as it is now, Half-Life 2: Virtual Reality Mode it still has some issues, mainly regarding performance. “The old engine is single threaded and only supports DirectX 9, so even with our hacked DXVK implementation, we’ve been struggling to hit FPS targets in some places,” said WormSlayer. While I have yet to get to some of the more chaotic scenes in the second half of the game, I have found the performance to be quite good so far. However, since there is no teleporter-style movement option, this mod can be hard on the stomach if you are new to VR.
Ultimately, the physics and technology of half life 2 they are still a joy to play with 18 years later. VR only amplifies the physicality of your world, with the ability to virtually pick up and manipulate objects. Half-Life 2: Virtual Reality Mode It is not Half Life: Alyx in terms of the sheer number of interactive objects, but it fits in well as a worthy VR prequel. And with the addition of the joystick and a head-mounted flashlight, it has more than a few features and conveniences of its own. Being able to virtually manipulate objects in the world is a refreshing way to revisit many of the game’s puzzles.
What was most surprising to me, however, was how this experience is affecting my perception of the game’s characters, especially the silent protagonist himself.
Gordon Freeman is a quiet guy, even when he’s frantically destroying things. But even being able to nod at an NPC marks a 100% increase in interaction between characters. Playing half life 2 and be able to greet Dr. Kleiner as he screams with excitement at the sight of you it makes me wonder: is Gordon Freeman even a dither? Does he give you a thumbs up to indicate that he understands? Does he nod or nod his head when people talk to him? How have I never thought about this for all these years?
The NPCs also look at you at eye level in a very creepy way. This feeling exists in other more modern VR games, but it’s surprising to find it so present in a 2004 game. . game out of the uncanny valley into something that starts to feel realistic.
I’m not saying that nodding, gesturing, and looking people in the eye are the salient features you list on the back of the box (that’s reserved for viciously beating men with a crowbar and watching this classic game in true 3D). ), but it sure changes the tone of half life 2. One detail here: it’s a shame you can’t see your hands while piloting the airboat. Not only did my eyes never leave the G-Man as I sped past him escaping from the Combine, but I would have loved to stare at him and point my finger at him, as if to say “I see you son of a bitch. I see you.”
I really want to play the rest of Half-Life 2: Virtual Reality Mode, detecting the unique changes that the new format adds and inspires. WormSlayer and the team still have work to do, including more weapon improvements, tweaks to make the game a bit easier for people prone to motion sickness, and even some AI-enhanced textures to give the older looks of the graphics. a little facelift. Those changes will be very welcome, but for now this first playable version is a great way to get back to this classic game. If you like Half life and you have a PCVR headset, you should download it yesterday.