The NoVR project for Half-Life: Alyx is not yet complete, but it already looks like it offers a satisfactory way to experience the 2020 shooter without an expensive, bulky headset. Recent updates have added a full-on, custom viewmodel for the pistol and made NoVR compatible with other mods, and by god, I might finally drop some actual cash on this game I literally can't play in its intended form.
I don't want to seem too down on VR, but come on man, I've got neither the space nor the money for all that business, and I'm eyeing the more "walled garden" direction Meta is moving for Oculus with great suspicion. If I can't experience it in an old fashioned, god-fearing 16:9 aspect ratio (or 16:10 on the go), then it's just not for me.
Alyx has had a series of flat panel mods come out since its release, but it's been slow going making it into a polished non-VR shooter campaign you actually might want to play as opposed to an überjank retrofit. When we last checked in on Half-Life: Alyx NoVR in April, the team had finally gotten it playable from start to finish in its new configuration.
Among the changes since then, I think the pistol viewmodel really does a lot to make the game feel more like a proper FPS—no more stubby little floating VR hands tucked away at the bottom of the screen, I want that gun and a pair of arms superimposed in my view at all times! NoVR also now supports major mods for Alyx like the Levitation custom campaign, which we previously featured at the 2022 PC Gaming Show.
The NoVR mod still has some progress to go before its full 1.0 release—among other things, it still needs proper, full viewmodels for Alyx's other weapons like the shotgun, pulse rifle, and upgraded variants of that basic pistol. But as it stands, I'm already tempted to check out what's so far been a "lost" Half-Life experience for me, one comparable to the PS2 and co-op-only Decay campaign by Gearbox, which is also getting a new lease on life thanks to a mod.
As noted by GamingOnLinux, NoVR's latest update helpfully coincides with Half-Life: Alyx going on sale for as low as it's ever been as part of the Steam Summer Sale—usually a full $60, Alyx can be had for just $24 right now. The full changelog for NoVR's latest update is printed below:
- Added Alyx's pockets (not available on Steam Deck yet)
- Improved collision in various levels so players cannot skip areas
- Unsupported mods no longer crash the game when going back to the main menu
- Added new supported mods (see the next section of the article)
- Improved viewmodel sway and bob
- Improved interactions throughout all levels
- Easier to use ladders
- Crash fixes
- Steam Deck stability improvements
- And more!