Half-Life 2 will soon be available in virtual reality.

After years being developed, and heaps of highs and lows en route, the designers of a computer-generated simulation mod for the first Half-Life 2 have declared a public beta that will start off the following month.

Half-Life 2: VR has been under development for so long that it was first included in Steam’s Greenlight program in 2017 and has been worked on by people engaged in the project since 2013. The poor progress has been caused mostly by the fact that, unlike Alyx, the game was not meant to be played in VR, and so there are various areas that have proven difficult, if not impossible, to translate to a headset.

Motivated by “overwhelmingly good feedback from our private beta testers” in recent weeks, the creators have fortified themselves and now think “that the game as it is presently can not only be fully played from start to end, but it’s also incredibly pleasurable to do so.”

As a consequence, they’ve announced that a public beta will be held next month, demonstrating everything that’s up and operating thus far. Which, based on the trailer below (which includes car scenes), is a lot:

You’ve undoubtedly got some queries by now, especially concerning mobility and vehicles, to which the developer’s FAQ section gives answers:

What types of movement are available?

The patch includes smooth locomotion, with the direction of motion configurable to follow your head or either of the two controllers. Turning can be set to be smooth or at predetermined intervals (snap turns).
There is presently no teleport mobility available, and it is uncertain when it will become accessible.

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 seems excellent for anyone who suffers from motion sickness! On the project’s website, you can learn more about it and discover which topics they’re currently working on.

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