Watch Half-Life: Alyx being played without VR

Half-Life: Alyx is excellent, by all reports, but it's also VR-only, which means that a lot of Half-Life fans won't be able to actually play it. Unless, that is, someone figures out how to make it work with standard mouse-and-keyboard setups, like a conventional FPS. It would be a different sort of experience under those conditions—you would not, for instance, be able to make headcrabs kiss—but it would at least open the doors to everyone who wanted to experience Alyx's new adventures first-hand.

Yesterday, Valve's Robin Walker said he's "looking forward" to mods that remove the VR requirement, and while it may have seemed like kind of a distant prospect at the time, it might not feel so far off now. In the clip above, taken from a datamining livestream that's still underway, Valve News Network founder Tyler McVicker can be seen moving around in Alyx freely, and without having a VR headset strapped to his eyeballs. It's janky, but it works, and his viewers appear suitably impressed. They seem to get really excited a few seconds later, though, when he uses the console command "vr_enable_fake_vr_test," at which point Alyx's hands pop up—again, without the benefit of any VR kit.

It's a big find, because the presence of the "vr_enable_fake_vr_test" flag implies that the tools needed to play Half-Life: Alyx without VR are already in place, which should dramatically lighten the load for modders. In the same datamining session, McVicker also found that a standard Half-Life 2 HUD and some HL2 weapons can be enabled, and some HL2 props can be spawned.

This is all a long way from a playable game, and Walker's prediction that a non-VR Alyx will inevitably be disappointing may well prove accurate. But for Half-Lifers who want to play Alyx but don't want to blow a couple months' rent on a VR setup they'll never use again, it's a very promising development. I've reached out to McVicker for more information on what he's found, and will update if I receive a reply.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.