After years in development, and loads of ups and downs along the way, the developers of a virtual reality mod for the original Half-Life 2 have announced a public beta that’ll be kicking off next month.
Half-Life 2: VR has been in development for so long that it was originally part of Steam’s Greenlight program back in 2017, and indeed has been worked on by some involved in the project since 2013. The slow going has been mostly due to the fact that, unlike Alyx, the game simply wasn’t designed to be played in VR, and so there are numerous sections that have been difficult if not impossible to port to a headset.
Buoyed by “overwhelmingly positive feedback from our private beta testers” in recent weeks, however, the developers have steeled themselves and now believe “that the game as it is now can not only be fully completed from start to finish, but it’s also very enjoyable to do so”.
As a result they’ve announced that next month they’ll be holding a public beta showcasing everything that’s up and running so far. Which, judging by the trailer below—that includes vehicle sections—is a lot:
By now you’ve probably got some questions, particularly about movement and vehicles, which the developer’s FAQ section has answers for:
What movement options are available?
The mod features smooth locomotion, where the direction of motion can be configured to either follow your head or any of the two controllers. Turning can be configured to be either smooth or in fixed intervals (snap turns).
There is currently no teleport movement available, and it is unclear if it will become a viable option in the future.
How will you handle the vehicle sections? I don’t think I can stomach them in VR.
Right now, the vehicle rides do indeed require strong VR legs. However, there are some comfort options available to help you survive them. A classic movement vignette is available and can be activated for the vehicle rides. While riding the vehicles, the borders of your screen will be blackened, reducing your field of view and reducing the impact of the motion sickness. Additionally, you can choose to experience the vehicle rides from a 3rd person camera perspective. In this mode, the camera is following the vehicle at a distance and is not directly subjected to the vehicle’s rapid movements and turns, which should reduce motion sickness dramatically. It does, however, make controlling the vehicles a little more awkward.
In the future, we may implement an additional mode where the vehicle rides are put on a virtual 2D screen in front of the user, so that everyone has a chance to get through the vehicle sections in the game. This mode would of course be less immersive than the current ones as it’d remove any 3D effect from the experience.
That virtual 2D screen option sounds ideal for anyone who gets queasy! You can read more about the project, and see which areas they’re still tackling, at its website.