Alien: Isolation (2014) is a survival horror game that’s rich detail, atmosphere, and tense moments make it a great candidate for terrifying VR experience. A new mod has been released which adds VR support to the game for the consumer version of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.

Update (8/27/17): Version 0.3.0 of the MotherVR mod has added SteamVR support, allowing Vive users to play Alien: Isolation in VR; you can find the latest version of the mod here. The article below has been updated to reflect this.

For those interested in playing the game who don’t already own it, the developer of the mod notes that you can get it for less than $10 right now via the Humble Spooky Horror Bundle, as long as you pay more than the average bundle price (currently $7.53), and the money goes to charity. That’s a steep discount compared to the current $40 asking price on Steam.

Original Article (7/30/17): 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 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.

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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 Despite one petition with nearly 3,000 signatures, the game’s VR mode has remained outdated and unplayable with the consumer Rift headset. But one fan decided to take action into their own hands.

An alpha version of the so-called ‘MotherVR’ mod has been released, adding Rift support to Alien: Isolation. The creator, Zack Fannon, who goes by the alias Nibre, plans to continue developing the mod to add additional features (including Vive support Vive support has been added), but says he wanted to launch the mod in its early state so that people could start playing sooner rather than later.

For now he warns the game is designed for seated play only, and works with an Xbox gamepad or keyboard and mouse. In the future, Fannon tells me that he hopes to add support for VR controllers like Touch.

Fannon is not only making the game’s old VR mode compatible with the latest version of the Rift SDK, he also plans to improve upon the original VR implementation, bringing it in line with more modern understandings of VR comfort design.

“Mandatory smooth turning, head-locked aiming, broken re-centering that doesn’t correctly align the game horizon with the real world horizon (that was terrible before I fixed it), body positioning in VR (objects way too close), forced head animation etc.,” are all issues in Alien: Isolation which VR developers today steer clear of, Fannon said. “To be fair to the developers though, in 2014 we really didn’t know as much regarding VR methodologies as we do now. So with that in mind, their VR support was actually pretty good for the time.”

He explained that the game’s use of a (now) old Oculus SDK is the reason why it doesn’t support the consumer version of the Rift without the MotherVR mod.

“[The SDK is] so old in fact, that it doesn’t even use any external files at all, all of the SDK gets statically compiled directly into the game itself. It’s locked in there, and can’t be easily changed. This limitation, is the main reason why support has been restricted to the DK2 and older legacy runtimes for so long,” Fannon told me. “How I’ve been able to circumvent that is by patching every SDK call in the game when it launches, to redirect it to my own ‘fake’ SDK code. I then take these requests from the game, and reinterpret them to the current Oculus SDK, translating and fixing things along the way.”

Alien: Isolation in VR is Beautiful and Terrifying

Because Fannon doesn’t have access to the game’s source code, he can’t peer directly into the game’s makeup, meaning that some of the tweaks need to be done at a much lower level.

“[…] the rest of what I’m fixing is accomplished at an assembly level, hooking from non-SDK game code and reading raw memory, making small patches to fix what I can.”

You can download and try the alpha version of the MotherVR mod yourself (of course you’ll need a copy of Alien: Isolation). Fannon says that if you’d like to keep abreast of updates, the best place to keep an eye on development is at his twitter account.

If you’d like to support the work he’s doing, you can do so via this PayPal link, but Fannon says he’s gaining much from the development of the mod even without any compensation.

“For the most part, I’m self taught with technology-related things, just learning and figuring out whatever I can when presented with an obstacle or interesting challenge. This project has been a great opportunity to expand my knowledge. Sometimes you just don’t know how well you understand the ins and outs of a concept until you’ve implemented it from scratch yourself,” he said. “Two years ago I would have been the person begging for someone else to release such a mod, so it’s very cool for me to be that person. No needing to wait around, just go see if you can learn something new, and make some progress on accomplishing something cool.”

Making Alien: Isolation work in VR so that a bunch of people to scare the pants off of themselves? I’d call that pretty cool indeed.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • nargorn

    Wow! Finally! Great! I will impatienly wait until it supports standing and touch Controllers. Thank you man!!

  • adrian meyer

    Yeah so glad someone has the know how to please a lot of VR users, I’ve just got to wait for the Vive support now.

  • Firestorm185

    Just another example of SEGA fans doing more after-the-fact work to make games they love even better. ^^

    • kool

      They should just hire all these guys.

      • Firestorm185

        SO. VERY. TRUE.

  • Andrew Jakobs

    Great, now you don’t have to deal with the old SDK anymore.
    But I recall the developers of AI saying something (not even a year ago) that a VR version might come in the not so future distance..
    Keep your eye on Bundlestars/humblebundlestore and site like kinguin for a cheap version of the complete game. I bought mine for 10 euro’s (all content).

  • Walextheone

    Nice! But I don’t know if I’ve the stomach for this game.

    • I tried it on the DK2 and just ended up cowering in a locker a minute or so into it…

  • bud

    Just tested it as one of the original dk2 guys that did it first time around.

    the text is just out side of vision to the left and right, other than that its good.

    Felt a little sea sick from it, because of the movement motion but also because this game has such strong immersion or presence, you do lose yourself in there.

    great audio,
    its a must try, to have in your library,

    I think it was lone survivor which really had some impact on my gaming experience bench mark, running through the halls singing a song towards the end of that map / task was quite scary because by that stage you are fully involved.

    Great work from the team that made this, you did well guys!! Edit: its an important part of gaming history imo.

    worth a purchase if you have an Oculus, its an experience.

    (When you start the game head full straight, no re-centre with keyboard, else you have close it and open it again)..

  • Eric Owens

    So how do I run this? All his readme said was drag and drop the DLL file. But I have no idea how to launch this.

    • Ragbone

      Hi mate, just run it as normal with the normal exe after you have copied the file in the same directory as the exe (root of installation folder).
      Once you have run it it should run in VR. If not leave a comment so we can try and sort it.

  • Zerofool

    That’s awesome! Many thanks to Zack Fannon for this! Anxiously looking forward to Vive support and the other general improvements planned.

  • Arv

    Got killed by a Xenomorph for the first time and got gripped by genuine panic bordering on fear. This game is incredible in VR. Incredible.

    • Ragbone

      I need to play this game with a Nappy.

  • Ragbone

    This game is amazing in VR, i played on the DK2 then when it no longer worked i waited, and thanks to this guy it is working again and he is applying bug fixes as time goes on.
    Surprised the game companies don’t realise that this work should be done, or don’t bother to do it…
    This is probably the best VR gaming experience I have had so far, recently also enjoyed the VR mods for Dying light and Doom 3. Waiting for Fallout 4 :D
    Wish they would add VR support for tons of old games, all the famous RTS etc, other 1ps too.

  • realtrisk

    This is awesome news. I played the game beginning to end on the DK2 back in the day, and I’d say it was the best VR experience I ever had up to the launch of the consumer headsets. It’s an amazing game in VR.

  • AndyP

    Played it last night for over two hours – it’s absolutely brilliant (noting that I found it a bit boring in 2d when it first came out, I wasn’t a fan of stealth games, but it is gripping atmospheric, and terrifying in VR). A few quirks but the mod (mother 2.0) works very well indeed. Great job!

  • Glaubenskrieger

    I’ve had a chance to try this and it is absolutely amazing!
    This is just alpha too!


  • “the rest of what I’m fixing is accomplished at an assembly level, hooking from non-SDK game code and reading raw memory, making small patches to fix what I can.” — Well done and good luck, only a handful of devs can pull this off, that stuff is hard!

  • Andrew Jakobs

    The version mentioned in the bundle for $10 is the bare version, it doesn’t have all the DLC (just look around and you can get it complete for that price).

  • Jean-Sebastien Perron

    This guy is my new personal God. Thank you so much I will try it soon. There is a reason why Sega is dead and Nintendont are irrelevant now, they don’t deliver what their client want.

  • Jean-Sebastien Perron

    I completed Alien Isolation on PS4 2 years ago. Today I just bought the collection edition on steam and installed the patch. This game in VR is way better than I was expecting. In fact it probably is the best VR game to date. There is only a small problem : computer monitor are too close to your face but you can still read the text perfectly. Otherwise it’s difficult to tell that this game is not an official VR game. The graphics are probably the best in the VR library and I did not experience any motion sickness. Bonus I bought it and installed it with steam, started the rift application then started the game in steam without steam-vr. After playing the game I noticed that the oculus application automatically placed a button with the alien isolation logo in my library. I then just updated the images files with the one provided with the patch. Bam! it’s like I bought the game on the oculus store. Do yourself a favor and just try it, thank me later. If one day I meet the guy who made the patch, I will suck his d…

  • Sam Illingworth

    So if I read this correctly he’s fixed it’s rendering in VR, but movement is still purely controller based? Hmm, wish his updates weren’t just using Twitter – I’d love to know when he gets proper VR movement and aiming working.

  • NonPCwhitey

    The problem is, at least on my install is that when you try to turn sideways it becomes a slideshow .

  • Shawn Colton

    Game over, man! Game over!