Back in October 2013 Road to VR’s Ben Lang described HL2VR, a Half-Life 2 mod specially crafted to make playing in VR as cool as possible, as “The best way to experience Half-Life 2.” The new version (1.4) is out and brings Oculus Rift DK2 support and the ability to play through both Episode 1 and 2 of Half-Life 2.

HL2VR 1.4 – Not Your Average Mod

half life 2 oculus rift virtual reality hl2vrLike many successful game mods, HL2VR is a pure passion project for the team behind it. After the Oculus Rift DK1 finally found its way into developer’s hands, the desire and appetite to play classic games on the VR Headset was immense – and among all classic first person shooters, Half-Life 2 was probably on the most wanted in VR list.

Even before Valve’s pioneering work adding Oculus Rift virtual reality headset to it’s Source game engine, HL2VR team Nathan Andrews and ‘WormSlayer’ set about getting the game working themselves. Originally requiring a slightly cumbersome set of steps, the original HL2VR release nevertheless gave gamers with a Rift a glimpse at what might be possible with virtual reality and gaming in the near future.

Once Valve released Oculus Rift support for HL2 and the team added support for the Razer Hydra motion controllers, HL2VR really came into its own. The mod allowed users 1:1 control over their in-game weaponry and in later releases even went so far as to add context specific HUD elements to the weapons themselves.

Ben Lang had this to say about the mode in his hands-on review last year:

In my book, the HL2VR mod is the best way to play Half-Life 2, thanks to a number of smart additions made by the folks behind HL2VR.

The Next Generation

half life 2 virtual reality health and shields hl2vrNow of course, not only has Oculus’ next generation of VR Headset, the DK2, been released to developers, Valve have also released official support for the device for HL2 and its sequels.

Video Offers a Glimpse of Vision Pro Hand-tracking & Occlusion Performance

The latest version of the HL2VR mod, version 1.4,  takes the new DK2 support, positional head-tracking and all. but keeps the customised 1:1 control schema made possible by the Razer Hydra motion controllers. Anyone who’s played HL2 on both the DK1 and the DK2 knows what a significant upgrade the DKs positional head tracking and low persistence of vision makes to playing the game. That plus HL2VRs excellent motion control schema and you have a pretty compelling case for stating this combination is probably the best way to play this classic series right now.

Now only that, but 1.4 brings with it a series of big fixes and includes some intriguing gameplay enhancements which extend the motion controls to add gestures for reloading your weapons and naturalistic throwing of grenades. The below video demonstrates some of these enhancements.

The full list of fixes and changes are below and you can grab HL2VR 1.4 right here:

  • Episode 1 and Episode 2 are now playable start to finish
  • Adjusted the calibration positions due to the interference between the DK2 and the controllers
  • Bigger + higher magnification on crossbow scope since you can’t get it right up to your eye before things start to jump around.
  • Fixed Ladders
  • Fixed Laser sight
  • Fixed Errant RPG tracking
  • You can now sprint during the intro since people kept thinking this was broken. Given how much slower the walk speed is it helps quite a bit on the rooftop chase scene.
  • Pistol clip ejection isn’t sideways

Nathan and WormSlayer deserve enormous praise for bringing the VR community such a complete and polished mod, completely for free. As VR Input devices and headsets evolve, we look forward to watching HL2VR evolve with them.

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Based in the UK, Paul has been immersed in interactive entertainment for the best part of 27 years and has followed advances in gaming with a passionate fervour. His obsession with graphical fidelity over the years has had him branded a ‘graphics whore’ (which he views as the highest compliment) more than once and he holds a particular candle for the dream of the ultimate immersive gaming experience. Having followed and been disappointed by the original VR explosion of the 90s, he then founded to follow the new and exciting prospect of the rebirth of VR in products like the Oculus Rift. Paul joined forces with Ben to help build the new Road to VR in preparation for what he sees as VR’s coming of age over the next few years.