How to Play Half Life 1 in VR – Complete Guide with FAQs, Tips, & More

Half-Life: Alyx may not quite be half-life 3, but it might as well be for anyone owning a VR headset. It’s half-life 2.5 to some, half-life 1.5 to others, pointing out that it’s a prequel to half-life 2, but everyone can agree that it’s almost definitely going to be full fledge half-life VR experience.

But the prospect of having a headcrab latch onto your face in VR is pretty terrifying. So we decided that one of the best ways to prepare yourself for that experience psychologically is by first experiencing them in VR through modded games.

We’ll show you how to play them in VR. So, without further ado, let’s get started.

How to Play Half-Life 1 in VR?

German modder Max Volmer has created an amazing Half-Life VR environment. It includes everything from teleportation to proper gun handling.

Install Half-Life on your Quest

You can either copy over the Half-Life game files to your Quest by using Steam or by downloading them from Valve directly.

If you want to keep working on your quest, you can either stay inside SideQuest and use its own file explorer (which works well) or you can open up Windows Explorer and navigate to where you saved your quest. We’ll be using Windows Explorer here.

  1. Once your Oculus Quest is connected to your PC, navigate to its root directory (the one containing the “Oculus” subdirectory). You’ll see a bunch of directories there, including “Alarms”, “Android”, “DCIM”, “Download”, “Oculus”, “Screenshots”, etc. For Macs, you may need to open SideQuest or something similar to access these files.
  2. Create a new folder named xash inside the Half-Life directory. You will copy the Half-life game into this folder in a future stage.
  3. In order to locate the Half-Life directory, you must start by finding out what version of Half-Life you’re running.
    • You can do so by opening the game’s main executable file (in Windows) or double clicking on the.exe file (on Mac).
    • Once opened, you’ll see a small box asking if you’d like to update the game. Select “Yes” and wait until the download finishes.
    • When finished, close the application and launch Steam. Navigate to the Half-Life directory inside Steam. Inside that directory, you’ll find the Half-Life directory.
  4. Copy the “Valves/Source” directory. On both systems, this directory contains a lot of different files. You do not need them all to be transferred to your Quest. Simply find the Source directory within the Valves directory and copy it.
  5. Paste the “Valves” directory. With the Valves directory now copied, return to your Quest root directory.
    • Open the “Xash” directory you created in Step 2 and paste the “Valves/” directory inside.
    • This may require a little patience to transfer across to your system. NOTE: You only need to paste the “Values” directory into the Xash directory.
    • The structure should look something like Quest\Xash\Valves\ when finished, with all of the following files within the valves directory.
  6. Start again.

Setup Half-Life 1

  1. After downloading the archived version of Half-Life 1 VR, extract it into your Steam folder (C:\Steam\ by default)
  2. After extracting the files, a ‘VR’ folder will be created inside the Half-Life installation directory. Double-clicking ‘HLVRLaunch­er’ will launch the Half-Life VR Launcher.
  3. To activate the VR mode, go to ‘Patch Game’, then select ‘Half-Life: VR.’ You’ll be able to play the game using the Oculus Rift headset.

As the mod is still in development, there are some things you need to tweak manually.

  1. To start, go into the SteamVR configuration settings by pressing the left system/left touch buttons simultaneously.
  2. After that, go to Controller Bindings, and choose one of the community-created bindings for ‘Max Vollmer HL2 VR Mod’.

Users sometimes report that the sound doesn’t play when they start playing the game for the first time. This can be resolved by simply pressing “Save” and then “Reload.”

You can load any mod for Half-Life 2 into Half-Life VR, including textures and graphics.

You can use Cyril Paulus’ ERSGAN textures for the game by enabling them in the Mod Configuration screen.

half life alyx

How to Play Half-Life 2 in Virtual Reality?

It may be difficult to play Half-Life 2 in a full 3D mode in virtual reality, but there’s an ingenious way to get around that problem by playing Half-Life 2 in the silly sandbox game Garry’s Mode.

You can’t save or load the current version of the app, but you can respawn instead. Once you’re in, though, it’s an impressively immersive VR experience.

  1. You must first install Half-Life 2 and then Garry’s Mod before playing Half-Life 2 in virtual reality.
  2. After that, go to the Steam workshop for Garry’s Mod, and look for and subscribe to the add-on named “VRMod – Experimental Virtual Reality.”
  3. You’ll also need the following files: vrm_mod_master.zip, which contains the mod itself, and vrm_mod_data.zip, which contains some additional files. These two archives must be copied into your main Steam Games directory (C:\Steam by default), replacing any files already there.
  4. If your monitor is only 1080 pixels wide, you’ll want to turn on Dynamic Super Resolution, or DSR (NVIDIA graphics card), or Virtual Super Resolution, or VSR (AMD graphics card). This will effectively unlock additional resolution options for you so that you don’t get a blurry image when using your VR headset.
  5. To activate DSR on an NVIDIA card, open the Nvidia Control Panel and click “Nvidia X Server Settings”. Then select “X Server Display Configuration” from the left pane. Click “Display”, then “Virtual Super Resolution”.
    • On an AMD card, launch the Radeon Adrenalin application by clicking the cog button at the top right, then choose “Radeon Settings”.
    • Select “Display” from the left pane, then “Virtual Super Resolution.”
  6. Next, open Garry’s Mod.
  7. When playing Garry’s Mod, first open the options menu, then video settings, and change the display mode to something comfortable at least at 4K (3840 x 2160) and preferably at 5K (5120 x 2880). You may need to turn on DSR or Virtual super resolutio­n to get higher resolutions. How high you set the display mode depends on the performance of your graphics card, but if you’re having trouble running the game smoothly, just lower the display mode until you reach one that works well.
  8. Clicking the Half-Life 2 icon opens up the list of all the levels in Half-Life 2. They aren’t in any particular sequence, so if you’d rather play through them in chronological (or reverse chronological) fashion, just click d1_trainStation_01.
  9. If you don’t want to play the original version of the video game, then be sure to check the “give weapon on spawn” box on the right side of the screen.
  10. When the game begins, press Q on your keyboard, go to the utility menu, then select VR Mod Utility.
  11. Click the ‘Start VR’ button and select the ‘Automatically start VR after maps load’ option.

Now that you’ve read this guide, you’re ready to play Half-Life: Alyx in full immersion. Practice that crowbar swing because the headcrab enemies are even scarier than before.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can’t start a new game? What to do?

Make sure you read through the instructions and copied the game directory from your Steam installation. Make sure all folders have been copied correctly. Remove the game directory and re-install it. Use the SideQuestExploiter tool to get into the game directory.

How do I reload my weapon?

To see the controller mapping or picture, go to r/lambda1vr.com. Its thumb sticks up/down and quickly taps the right grip buttons.

How do I climb ladders?

Approach the ladders and briefly press A. Hold the off-hand joystick straight, and don’t move it. Use the thumbstick to go up and down.

Conclusion

We hope you found this article helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us in the comments below.

Author

  • Victor Marquez

    Victor is the Editor in Chief at Techtyche. He tests the performance and quality of new VR boxes, headsets, pedals, etc. He got promoted to the Senior Game Tester position in 2021. His past experience makes him very qualified to review gadgets, speakers, VR, games, Xbox, laptops, and more. Feel free to check out his posts.

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