Half-Life 2: Episode 2 VR mod arrives today with more improvements
More comfort features for driving available, graphical improvements still on the wayBy Daniel Sims
Highly anticipated: After a decade of development, a mod is making the entire Half-Life 2 story playable in VR, including the two expansion episodes. While still technically in beta, the mod has received frequent updates and lots of praise. The developers are extensively focusing on comfort features to accommodate various VR gameplay styles.
Half-Life 2's highly-rated VR mod supports Episode Two as of Thursday, making the complete story playable in VR. When adding the two episodes this spring, the modders introduced various bug fixes and other improvements.
For those who haven't tried it yet, the mod enables room-scale VR gameplay with tracked controllers. Despite being a mod of an old non-VR game, it includes many features players associate with made-for-VR titles.
Gamers can dual-wield weapons, manually reload with motion controls by reaching over their shoulders, and line their eyes up with the in-game iron sights. The mod also supports bHaptics vests, delivering force feedback across players' torsos.
Those with VR comfort issues or who prefer to play sitting down also have options for an easier experience, like quick reloading and in-development teleportation-based movement. The latest patch includes alternate controls and a non-VR option for the driving sections (which are important for Episode Two). Previous updates added an optional third-person driving camera with multiple comfort options. The comfort features are all accessible in a first-time setup wizard.
The mod supports every VR headset that SteamVR recognizes, including the Valve Index, HTCs headsets, Meta Quest, and others. The developers recommend users have 10GB of available storage space, 16 GB of RAM, a GeForce GTX 1080 or Radeon RX 5700, and an 8th-gen Intel or Ryzen 3000 CPU. It's free for anyone who owns Episode Two (family sharing doesn't count).
While the current public beta retains Half-Life 2's original 2004 graphics, the modders intend to improve them after finishing work on the comfort features. They don't plan to make it look like a modern game, but they want to improve the textures, lighting, and collision to hold up better in VR. The modders will use a combination of AI upscaling and manual touch-ups to keep the new art assets faithful to the original presentation.
Those who want to play the entire Half-Life saga in VR (including Valve's made-for-VR Half-Life: Alyx) can also try one of the multiple VR mods available for the original 1998 title.