A mere six months after the release of their Half-Life 2 VR mod (opens in new tab), the devs over at the Source VR Mod Team are gearing up for the release of Half-Life 2: VR Mod – Episode 1 (opens in new tab) later today. Oh, and the Episode 2 version (opens in new tab) releases on April 6, a couple weeks from now. I'm beginning to think they're just stunting on Valve's development times at this point.
A goggles-based reimplementation of the first game in the Half-Life 2 Episodes trilogy (any day now!), the VR mod for HL2 Episode 1 is a "community-made adaptation of Valve's episodic continuation of Half-Life 2, transformed into a fully roomscale Virtual Reality experience". It'll work on any VR headset that SteamVR supports. If, like me, you have no idea what headsets that means, here's a list of the most prominent ones:
- Valve Index (naturally)
- HTC Vive
- Oculus Rift (and Quest 2)
- Windows Mixed Reality headsets
You can find a full list of SteamVR-compatible headsets here (opens in new tab), but I'd venture to say that the ones above are what most users are gonna be playing on. If you also happen to own a bHaptics vest, the Episode 1 VR mod has new support for that too, so you can truly live the experience of dying in a hail of Combine gunfire.
Besides all that, it looks like the Episode 1 mod will play similarly to the one for the original HL2. The weapons have been tweaked to make sense in VR—you'll have to pump the shotgun and steady the SMG with both hands, for example—and you won't be able to teleport around Half-Life: Alyx-style. Doing so would run the risk of generating some truly gnarly physics glitches. You'll just have to run around like some sort of caveman playing a normal, non-VR videogame.
That could lead to issues with motion sickness for some, particularly in that one sequence where Gordon and Alyx plunge several hundred feet in the rusted carcass of an old van, but it's probably downright comfortable compared to the horrors you'd endure if you accidentally teleported in a way the Source Engine physics system didn't like.
So if you've been sitting around in your headset and haptics vest just waiting for something decent to play, you can pick up Half-Life 2: VR Mod – Episode 1 (opens in new tab) over on Steam for free when it releases in about six hours from the time this was published. You'll need to own the original Half-Life 2: Episode 1, of course, but I'm pretty sure nearly all of us do by now.