German developer Holger Frydrych gave a presentation on how his team successfully brought Half-Life 2 to virtual reality.
The VR mod, which was created and released with Valve’s blessing, was released in the fall of 2022, followed by Episodes 1 and 2 in March and April 2023. To date, it has received more than 4,500 “overwhelmingly positive” reviews on Steam, and fellow MIXED editor Max wrote that the VR port is better than the original after playtesting it.
In a presentation at Big Techday 2023 in Munich, lead developer Holger Frydrych talked about the long history of the VR port, which goes back ten years and experienced several long breaks. It wasn’t until 2021 that the development gained momentum again. With the participation of Frydrych and other community modders and developers like DrBeef and WormSlayer, work on the VR mod was brought to a successful conclusion.
An exemplary VR port
In the talk, Frydrych explains in detail how Half-Life 2 was adapted to the technical and gameplay requirements of virtual reality. For example, the 3D models of the weapons had to be completed, since in the classic version you only see them from one side and the other side was not modeled at all by Valve.
A lot of work went into interface adjustments. A new weapon selection menu has been developed for Half-Life 2 VR (modeled after the one in Half-Life: Alyx) that allows for a quick and easy selection of weapons. Frydrych’s team even went so far as to include weapon interactions: You can manually reload the pistol and use Gordon Freeman’s crowbar to smash crates and other objects.
Another important topic is the implementation of artificial locomotion. The mod allows for smooth locomotion and teleportation. For the vehicle passages where players travel at high speed, additional modes have been developed to eliminate nausea.
Half-Life 2 VR: A labour of love
Half-Life 2 VR is a master class in VR modding and one of the best VR ports ever made. Frydrych wrote the code in his spare time, spending many weekends and evenings working on it. He estimates that he spent between 250 and 300 hours in the VR mod just for testing.
His work on Half-Life 2 VR is largely finished, Frydrch, who also goes by the online name Cabalistic, writes to me on Discord.
He is not involved with the graphics remaster of Half-Life 2 VR, which is still in development. Those who want to can already test it, but bugs and issues are still to be expected, says Frydrych. To try it, you just have to choose a different branch (“3.0”) on Steam. More details an be found on the official website of the Half-Life 2 VR mod.
Below are the individual Half-Life 2 VR mods on Steam. You must own Half-Life 2 to play the (free) mods.