Half-Life: Alyx mod lets you play without VR but at a virtual cost

JC Torres - Jun 1, 2020, 5:13am CDT
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Half-Life: Alyx mod lets you play without VR but at a virtual cost

Half-Life Alyx is the first major game in the franchise to come out in years but its high requirements made it a no-go for many fans of the franchise. Valve may have boosted sales of its Index VR system and perhaps other compatible VR gear but that is still a small number compared to Half-Life fans still left hanging. Unsurprisingly, there have been a few attempts at getting Alyx to run on screens that are flat as pancakes but this Pancake FPS Starter Kit looks to be one of the most promising and slightly more confusing ones.

Right off the bat, the developer of this PFSK software warns users that it’s not intended to be used to play Half-Life: Alyx outside of a VR environment. That, of course, hasn’t stopped people from actually doing exactly that. And while the mod isn’t made for that purpose, its ability to support such a use case is almost a testament to the mod’s abilities.

The Pancake FPS Starter Kit, a reference to what the VR elite call mere non-VR monitors, is designed more to create addons that work in both VR and non-VR games running on Valve’s Source 2 game engine, precisely the same engine that Alyx uses. As an example of that capability. modder Goutrial brought Gordon Freeman’s hands and weapons from Half-Life 2 to Alyx, allowing the game to be played outside of virtual reality.

It’s not a perfect translation, of course, and the game is impossible to complete without cheats. After all, the world, its pacing, and its interface were made to be used with two virtual hands. It’s definitely easier to shoot down baddies but everything else will be a chore.

If anything, this mod is a testament to how Valve has been very generous in making its games and engines very mod-friendly. It has recently released Steam Workshop tools for that purpose and it might just be a matter of time before some enterprising developers figure out a way to flatten Half-Life: Alyx like a pancake.


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