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Half Life 2: VR Mod releasing on the 16th

iMight404
Oculus Support
Oculus Support

Probably just a short post, but it baffles me how we aren't all going crazy about Half Life 2: VR finally coming out after all this time! Now I don't know about y'all, but I'm pretty excited for this, as HL2 was one of the first games I played on Steam. Being able to relive the experience but in a true first-person virtual reality setting is going to be amazing! I definitely love the attention to detail - for example, the first person hands change once you get the Hazard Suit, which is a nice little touch.
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There have been workarounds to play Half Life, and even Half Life 2 in VR in the past. The most notable that comes to mind is the Garry's Mod addon, VRMod, although the methods they use to display the image onto the headset leaves a lot to be desired; the outer edges of the display seem to be distorted when using it. 

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It definitely looks to be as if we'll get manual reloading, which in of itself is a reason to get excited. Something about emptying the magazine, then inserting another clip and chambering the round in one quick, fluid motion is super satisfying. What's even more interesting, is that it also appears some weapons are going to have proper ADS. Counting my quickscope attempts on two hands...

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The UI is as expected - completely redone and looking lovely. When I say I really like the honeycomb design they chose to go with, it's an understatement. Fingers crossed all of this will one day result in us getting third party VR support for something like Black Mesa, or for VRMod to update their method of displaying the image on the headset.

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All in all, this is looking like a really solid VR port that I'm excited about. I can't wait for the day where porting games to VR is commonplace and I can finally enjoy Halo: Reach in VR. 

Take your destiny into your own hands. Sand cannot keep a shape by itself, but add water and it becomes malleable. Fate can be such, if you add the right element.
12 REPLIES 12

RuneSR2
Level 15

I'm wondering about the texture quality. HL2 is very old (from 2004 - 18 years), but devs said that high-res texture packs should work in VR too. Would much prefer if the mod contains new high-res textures - but I doubt that... Weapons seem to have new models and (high-res) textures... 

Valve Index & Oculus Rift CV1, Asus Strix OC RTX™ 3090, i9-10900K (5.3Ghz), 32GB 3200MHz, 8TB
"Ask not what VR can do for you, but what you can do for VR"

The graphics seem upscaled slightly at the very least, but Half Life 2 graphics aren't the worst for a game that's 18 years old. I think it's safe to assume that high-res textures aren't packaged with the mod but then again, they also could be. Hard to tell until the mod fully releases based on screenshots alone.

Take your destiny into your own hands. Sand cannot keep a shape by itself, but add water and it becomes malleable. Fate can be such, if you add the right element.

RuneSR2
Level 15

There's a nice review here:

 

 

Graphics are the original from 2004 - I have completed the game long ago, I doubt I'll be doing that again, have too many other games in my backlog - but will probably install the mod just to see it. 

Valve Index & Oculus Rift CV1, Asus Strix OC RTX™ 3090, i9-10900K (5.3Ghz), 32GB 3200MHz, 8TB
"Ask not what VR can do for you, but what you can do for VR"

RuneSR2
Level 15

The mod has just launched on Steam! 🙂

Valve Index & Oculus Rift CV1, Asus Strix OC RTX™ 3090, i9-10900K (5.3Ghz), 32GB 3200MHz, 8TB
"Ask not what VR can do for you, but what you can do for VR"

RoastPork
Oculus Support
Oculus Support

This sorta reminds me of back when Black Mesa (Half-Life 1 remake) was released on Steam. This is really, really cool to see and I hope y'all enjoy it! Me, I could never stand the Barnacles so imma leave y'all to them. 😅

Now you're playing with power...SUPER power!

RuneSR2
Level 15

Half-Life 2 VR does look much like a Quest 2 standalone game - that is, it's very low-poly and textures are often horribly low-res, but the old king of PC games being from 2004 and now 18 years old still goes beyond what you'd see even in a Quest 2 standalone game like Red Matter 2. This is due to the use of dynamic shadows and proper volumetric lightning. And you can use 120+ fps and extreme amounts of super sampling. 

 

Thus, the game being made for what's now potato PCs means you can use extreme res in VR - or run it just fine using a GTX 970 😉 Like in many Quest ports, I could max out SteamVR res at an jaw-dropping 500% (45 mill pixels per frame) and add 4xMSAA on top of that, lol. Did try 8xMSAA, but that was slightly too much (started getting dips below 90 fps). 

 

Due to the extreme res and the lighting + shadows, the game still looks nice - or okay-ish. I took some shots (no spoilers, Index res 500% + 4xMSAA) - note that the game is not remastered (yet), all textures apart from your own weapons are the originals from 2004:

 

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Had some strange déjà vu experience right here - has it really been nearly 18 years? 🙂

 

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Finger tracking works!

 

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Volumetric lights still shine better than in Red Matter 2, see how my hand gets illuminated as I approach the light source? That does not work with the fake light in Red Matter 2. In this mod, you have hands like in Half-life: Alyx and can interacts with many objects

 

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Say "cheese" - and note the nice dynamic shadow on the ground

 

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Still looking good, or maybe more like okay-ish 😉

 

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Would be nice with a high-res texture pack, not all textures aged well

 

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Alyx still looks good, I like her hair

 

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Maybe a better shot of Alyx...

 

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You'll get to see old friends again

 

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- and you'll get to hold your weapons for the very first time!

 

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The city still looks nice

 

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I never get tired of watching the Citadel

 

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Environments are much more low-poly than Half-Life: Alyx, but get the job done - water reflections look great

 

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Some ground textures have aged well

 

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The volumetric lighting helps a lot bringing this nearly 20 years old game back to life - for those not having tried tried the game before, now is an excellent time!

 

Btw, according to Metacritic, Half-Life 2 is the best 3D PC game of all time (Disco Elysium is 2D):

 

https://www.metacritic.com/browse/games/score/metascore/all/pc/filtered

 

Even if Half-Life 2 is old, it's gaming history at its finest. It's something special finally being able to play the old king of pc games in VR. Using Index, the game controls are similar to Half-Life: Alyx, so you use the trackpad to select weapons etc. Climbing ladder can be cumbersome, but it works - I've seen many games made from the ground-up for VR working worse than this excellent mod. 

Valve Index & Oculus Rift CV1, Asus Strix OC RTX™ 3090, i9-10900K (5.3Ghz), 32GB 3200MHz, 8TB
"Ask not what VR can do for you, but what you can do for VR"

RuneSR2
Level 15

I was thinking the standalone Quest 2 might be able to handle this old game from 2004, but as I'm progressing some locations may be hard to handle for very slow mobile gpus - like the water shaders, dynamic shadows and the great view distance seen here (image taken using Index res 500%):

 

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On my rig, the game is still solid 90 fps using an insane res 500% and 4xMSAA. Some dude wrote that the game feels completely new and fresh - and I'm starting to think he's got a point. The fighting is intense, I've died more than a few times - I guess our old grandfathers knew how to make challenging games back in 2004, lol. 

 

Especially the water looks great when reflecting everything (these are original textures, I've not added anything):

 

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Drop-ship arriving with Combine soldiers - still feels totally awesome. Note how environments are reflected in the water

 

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Great water

 

The dynamic shadows are truly awesome too - but Half-Life 2 was ahead of its time in 2004:

 

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The crowbar is reflected on the wall. You turn on your headlight by flipping a finger near it

 

It feels much more natural whacking these flying menaces with the crowbar:

 

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- but love the machine gun too:

 

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Some have issues with the boat ride causing motion sickness, I felt nothing at all - but did love that boat ride, so far one of my favorite moments in the game:

 

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The boat ride was my personal highlight of the game so far

 

The mod is approaching 1,500 ratings on Steam in just a few days. Seems to be a great hit - and it is indeed fun to be back. It's been 17 years since I finished the game, I can't remember all details and using VR, the game does indeed feel fresh and new. Even the low-poly and badly textured graphics aren't looking that bad - as the above images may show. 

Valve Index & Oculus Rift CV1, Asus Strix OC RTX™ 3090, i9-10900K (5.3Ghz), 32GB 3200MHz, 8TB
"Ask not what VR can do for you, but what you can do for VR"

Well you've certainly sold me on giving this a shot now! Looks really cool and I'm getting excited just thinking about it. Can't wait to jump in!

What I like about Half-Life 2 VR is how unforgiving and "hardcore" the game is. Valve explained they were afraid of causing motion sickness among users in Alyx, and therefore completely gave up on Portal VR, lol. So Alyx has been designed to be gentle to persons new to VR - and to all prone to motion sickness (initially Alyx was just teleport, and you still need teleport to jump).

 

Now, Half-Life 2 VR never was designed for VR - it's not holding your hand in any way - it just throws you into some of the most demanding gun fights ever. In that way Half-Life 2 VR may be for VR veterans with solid VR legs - not for newcomers. You're simply thrown into the world with little help nor comfort and must do your best to survive.

 

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Last night I battled against some large helicopter, it was really intense - I doubt Valve would ever have allowed such intensity if they had designed that level for VR - because most players may not have the stomach for it. 

But I thought it was one of the best VR experiences in a very long time. I died several times, so not exactly a walk in the park, but needing to stay alert and move fast increase immersion too. I've completed Alyx, and while there is some intense fighting in Alyx, you don't fight fast moving heavily armed and shielded choppers in Alyx. Alyx also had few and relatively light weapons, while Half-Life 2 VR gives you the really heavy stuff 😉 

 

In short: welcome to Half-Life 2 VR - all gloves are off - enter at your own risk 🙂

 

PS. Steam now says that the Half-Life 2 VR Mod has an average rating of 10/10 - or 98% positive - this release may have a much larger impact on VR gaming than I anticipated. The game is kinda boring in the beginning, but it sure picks up the pace around the time when you get to sail the airboat. 

Valve Index & Oculus Rift CV1, Asus Strix OC RTX™ 3090, i9-10900K (5.3Ghz), 32GB 3200MHz, 8TB
"Ask not what VR can do for you, but what you can do for VR"