Halo Reach (2010), the final Halo game from the series’ original developer, Bungie, launched on PC in December, and could now wind up with a VR support through an unofficial mod. Zack “Nibre” Fannon, the creator of the Alien: Isolation VR mod, is now working on ‘ReclaimerVR’, a mod to add VR support to Halo Reach.
Update (January 27th, 2020): ReclaimerVR creator Zack “Nibre” Fannon shared more progress on his Halo Reach VR mod after the release of Halo Reach on PC last month. A video posted to twitter shows full 6DOF weapon control with VR motion controllers.
While Fannon had previously shared a teaser video showing experimental headtracking in Halo Reach, he’s now signaling more clearly that he intends to bring the mod to a release-ready state under the name ‘ReclaimerVR’.
Fannon was profiled recently by 343 Industries, the developer now in charge of the Halo franchise, where he said his goal is to add VR support to all Halo games released on PC under the Master Chief Collection. That’s an ambitious goal—considering MCC includes Halo 1–4, as well as Reach and ODST—but Fannon has more than proven his skills with his ‘MotherVR’ mod for Alien: Isolation.
Interestingly, while Fannon had first dreamed of playing a Halo game in VR well before he created the Alien: Isolation mod, he says the experience of creating that mod was instrumental in being able to bring VR to Halo Reach.
“If I could expand my programming chops by getting [Alien: Isolation] working in VR again, without the game’s source code, could that somehow help me on my quest towards getting Halo working in VR? Long story short, it turns out that it honestly did. Reverse engineering a game from absolute scratch helped me see the Halo games in a new light when I’d come back to them, and revisiting MotherVR again afterward really helped me push my understanding of code at an assembly level further and further.
The original article—which talks about Fannon’s early teases of the ‘ReclaimerVR’ mod and the background of the Alien: Isolation mod—continues below.
As a massively popular franchise, calls for a Halo VR game have been heard plenty over the years, but with the latest incarnation of the games stuck on Xbox, Halo has still not gotten the VR treatment (unless you count that tease which Microsoft never followed up on).
With Halo Reach making the leap to PC on December 3rd, however, we just might get a taste of a full Halo game on modern VR headsets, albeit unofficially.
Zack “Nibre” Fannon, creator of the Alien: Isolation VR mod and self-described “Halo addict,” today posted clips on Twitter showing they were experimenting with adding some VR functionality to Halo Reach.
Some more pic.twitter.com/gGBXGkn2tD
— Nibre (@nibre_) November 14, 2019
Apparently working with a version of the game from public beta tests earlier this year, the clips show they have managed to bring rotational and positional tracking from the Rift into Halo Reach. This is a minor (but essential) achievement compared with the complexity of getting the game to render with proper distortion and stereoscopy. If it were anyone else we might just say “neat,” and move along with our day, but Nibre’s work with Alien: Isolation shows they may have the skills to deliver a fully functional Halo Reach VR mod.
Prior to its 2014 launch, Alien: Isolation was briefly demoed with a VR mode running on the second Rift development kit (DK2). It proved to be a terrifying experience, though with only tens of thousands of Rift DK2s out in the wild, the developers of the game didn’t bother to implement the VR mode for the launch of the game. It turns out though that the game’s files shipped with the VR mode hidden, and some intrepid folks figured out how to activate it so they could play the game on the DK2.
But between the DK2 and the launch of the consumer Rift in 2016, the Oculus SDK (which interfaces with the game to make it work inside the headset) changed drastically, meaning that the hidden Alien: Isolation VR mode wasn’t compatible with the consumer Rift.
But that didn’t stop people from clamoring to play the game in VR. Their desire spawned multiple petitions to try to get publisher Sega to update the game with modern VR support. Despite one petition with more than 2,500 signatures, the game’s VR mode remained outdated and unplayable with the consumer Rift headset.
That’s when Nibre decided to take action into their own hands and released the so-called ‘MotherVR’ mod which not only enabled VR support but also improved upon the original implementation, bringing it in line with a more modern application of VR comfort design and even adding support for VR controllers.
As for Halo Reach in VR, Nibre hasn’t committed to creating a full blown mod just yet, but they are clearly experimenting. “Now that [Halo Reach] is finally coming to PC, it opens a lot of doors…,” they teased on Twitter.