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You Can Play Half-Life: Alyx Without VR

Half-Life: Alyx has proven to be a worthy addition to the Half-Life franchise. Telling a side-story involving the character Alyx Vance from Half-Life 2, this new VR game has been huge for its developers at Valve. Despite the fact that it was designed specifically as a VR gameplay experience, however, some modders have taken it upon themselves to bring Half-Life: Alyx to a more traditional gaming set-up.


It was reported last month that Valve had actually included a non-VR mode within the code for Half-Life: Alyx. This existed specifically so that the developers could go into the game and tweak it more easily, making adjustments and updates on the fly without having to navigate with the VR controls. It should come as no surprise that folks poking around in the game's code discovered this mode and started fiddling around with it. Though not every mechanic was fully functional within this mode (for instance, the game's Gravity Gloves couldn't be operated with a standard keyboard), it was only a matter of time before someone figured out how to make it all play normally.

That's what's happened with a new mod for Half-Life: Alyx that aims to make the entire game playable without a VR headset or motion controls. As reported by PC Gamer, the mod isn't without its issues, but players should be able to complete the entire game on a traditional gaming PC.


According to PC Gamer, the mod has an accompanying seven-minute tutorial video that explains to users how to set up the mod and play it for themselves. This makes sense, considering bringing this game into a completely new playing style and perspective would require more than most traditional mods. In addition, the modders have included lengthy trouble-shooting instructions and a guide on how to make your way through the game with the updated controls. There are a lot of moving parts to making this work, but it seems to be much more playable than it was just a few weeks ago.

This is great news for gamers who have been waiting for a new Half-Life game for years but aren't too jazzed on playing things in virtual reality. Considering the fact that Valve seems to be very on board with continuing the franchise after Alyx, it might be the best way for some people to at least experience the game's story before the next sequel.

The Half-Life series has a rich history of modders making the game series into whatever they desire. This has mostly sprang from the fact that the series has been dormant for so long, which has led to fan remakes like Black Mesa being created. What began as a mod for Half-Life 2 became a full-fledged remake of  Half-Life that was 16 years in the making. It's received rave reviews from critics and fans alike, proving that sometimes fan ingenuity can make all the difference in the longevity of a franchise.


As for this non-VR conversion, it was probably always going to happen. Robin Walker of Valve has already gone on record as expecting modders to create something like this. 

In an interview with Polygon, Walker said, "Yes, it's going to happen. I'm fine with [non-VR mods], for the sake of the other members of the team I don't want to say I encourage you to do it, but it's going to happen."

In fact, Walker admitted to being somewhat interested in how people would react to playing a non-VR version of Half-Life: Alyx. According to Walker, it could be something of a learning experience for the team that worked on Alyx. As Walker explained to Polygon, "It will clearly demonstrate to people why we did this in VR ... [But] if If people play [a modded version on a standard display] and say this is is just as good, that will teach me a lot. I will realize I'm wrong, and we didn't get as much as we thought, and I love to know whenever I'm wrong."

Now, we're definitely not saying that this is why the new mod was created. Obviously, this was made for folks who are craving something ever so slightly closer to a traditional Half-Life experience. Still, it would be interesting to see what the development team for Half-Life: Alyx makes of this version of the game. In the meantime, it's likely that the folks who created this mod will continue to make improvements to it in the coming weeks. Still, it's one heck of an accomplishment to have changed the format of a high profile game so completely.