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Half-Life: Alyx without a VR headset? It’s now possible

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A team of modders has figured out a way to bypass the need for a VR headset to play Half Life: Alex, Valve’s PC VR-exclusive game (via PC Gamer). Early access mod created by the GB_2 development team lets you thrill to the fullest half life 2 The prequel featured a mouse and keyboard, an input method preferred by many fans of the franchise.

You still need a copy of the game on Steam, as well as a relatively powerful gaming desktop or laptop to run it. But it’s great news for anyone who either can’t stomach VR, can’t play in VR for accessibility reasons, or who can’t justify buying a pricey VR headset just to play games.

I think it’s important to recognize how good it is before criticizing it. It’s both polished enough to try and easy to install (it’s an easy drag-and-drop file affair). However, given the VR controls made for the game and its tactile, hand-based interactivity, it’s not the one-to-one translation you might be hoping for — and it probably never will be. Yep, that means the game’s stunning liquid shaders are still the most convincing in VR.

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A vodka bottle is placed in front of the light and then shaken.

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Gif: Play Gamez via Valve

Valve’s Robin Walker predicted in 2020 that a mode that changes Half Life: Alex A “standard” non-VR version of the game will appear eventually, but it’s mostly “[…] Clearly demonstrate to people why we did this in VR.”

He’s still right, in a sense. Some core components of a VR game, such as using Alyx’s gravity glove to pick up or interact with objects with a satisfying flick of the wrist, are lost, as well as the game’s sense of scale and atmosphere. In the mod’s current state, you won’t be able to get 9 of the game’s 42 Steam achievements, which rely mostly on interacting with objects in the world with your hands.

But still, it’s not as bad as you might be fearing. After getting past the flimsy main menu (and starting a new game; it won’t work with in-progress saves), movement and shooting controls work well, and it’s a pleasure to see this game’s lush graphics on screen. Good that one is not inches away from my eyes. If you only care to see the beat of the story Half Life: AlexThis might be a cool way to play (side note: kudos if you managed to stay spoiler-free about the game’s killer, controversial ending).

The mod team is working on tweaking the interface, the game’s animations, and more to make it feel more like a standard PC FPS and less like a game tied to its VR roots. Before installing the mod on your PC, the developers suggest reading through their FAQ, which provides a description of the controls, essential launch commands to use in Steam, and some troubleshooting.

Let us know in the comments if you plan to try it.

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