Approaching two years from the release of Half-Life: Alyx, we’ve compiled a list of the best Half-Life: Alyx mods and how to install them.
Shortly after Alyx launched in March 2020 a modding scene started to emerge adding whole new maps and areas as custom content. What started as a few custom maps cobbled together in unofficial tools has become a much larger selection of content offering new Alyx levels and other custom games. With Steam Workshop support, it’s easy to install and play through Half-Life: Alyx mods.
Here’s our selection of the best custom content for Alyx and how to install it.
How To Install Half-Life: Alyx Mods and Maps
Almost everything on the list can be found in the Steam Workshop. This is an online library where mod and map creators can upload their work and other plays can ‘subscribe’ to that content to have it added to their game and updated as the mod receives patches or new content.
The install process for Alyx mods and maps through Steam Workshop is very simple — all you have to do is click the green ‘Subscribe’ button on a mod or map listing, which will then download and install into your copy of Alyx automatically.
To enable mods, there’s an ‘Add-Ons’ option in the Alyx main menu while in-game. Here, you can turn on and off mods that add new elements or alter the main campaign or simply turn on any custom maps you’ve downloaded.
If you’re playing a mod or add-on for the main campaign, it should take effect automatically after turning on. If not, check the Steam Workshop listing description for any mod-specific instructions.
You can start custom maps by going to start a new game — instead of selecting the main campaign, choose the custom map of your choice. This will take up a save slot in your profile, allowing you to save you progress through the custom map just like the normal game.
For more detail, check out our guide specifically for installing mods here.
Some mods aren’t available on Steam Workshop — we’ve noted those and left links for each one describing how to install those mods specifically.
Best Half-Life: Alyx Custom Mods and Maps
One of the more recent releases on this list, Loco-Motive is a super detailed, polished and engaging Half-Life: Alyx map. It should last around 45 minutes and offers similar gameplay to what you became acquainted with in the game’s main campaign. There’s nothing particularly new or groundbreaking about the map, it’s just very good — at times, you would be forgiven for mistaking the custom environments as the same ones from the main Alyx campaign. There’s even a few custom Russell voicelines thanks to a very good Rhys Darby impression that sounds eerily similar to the real thing.
Gunman Contracts: Chapter 1 – The Extraction
This mod overhauls Alyx’s visuals to turn it into a mobster shooter that is almost unrecognizable from the game it started as. You play as a hired gun sent to rescue a woman from a human trafficking operating which is run out of a nearby bar. Gunman Contracts’ biggest pull is a selection of custom assets, such as the 1920s mobster types replacing Combine soldiers.
The map is not without its faults, but it’s an astonishingly impressive change in visual theme compared to the original game.
Return To Rapture
One of the best available mods for Alyx fuses together the worlds of Half-Life and Bioshock in Return to Rapture. The map uses a mixture of new and repurposed assets to create 25 minutes of gameplay that retains some of Bioshock’s core elements and iconic opening sequence and brings them into the Alyx engine, playable in VR. It’s not a full 1-to-1 translation, but it does a pretty good job.
The experience is split into eight maps, which will transition smoothly through each other if you download all of them via Steam Workshop. The now eight-person strong dev team also recently announced a planned second part, releasing later this year, which will add around 20 more levels. You can check out the latest trailer here.
This maps moves the focus away from Alyx and instead puts you in the shoes of the enemy — in Goon Squad, you’ll be playing as one of three Combine soldiers tasked with clearing out and escaping a quarantined facility.
While it’s a nice narrative switch-up, the Combine solider aspect doesn’t change too much from a gameplay perspective. Nonetheless, the map feel very high quality and well-designed. If you’ve played through Alyx’s main campaign, you’ll recognize a familiar foe who appears halfway through the map and adds on a new level of complexity to one of Alyx’s most tense gameplay mechanics.
ApertureVR – Thinking Without Portals
One for Valve fans, ApertureVR brings the iconic Aperture test chambers from the Portal franchise into VR for a set of newly-designed puzzles that let you use Alyx’s gravity gloves to solve puzzles without a Portal gun. There’s four chambers available, all of which use various Aperture cubes and gameplay elements from the Portal series, minus the titular device.
This custom map takes Half-Life: Alyx and turns it into a wave-based shooter. Stuck in an enclosed space with limited weapons and ammo, you’ll have to fight off increasingly large and difficult waves of enemies threatening to overwhelm you. In between waves, you can use money you’ve earned in previous waves to buy ammo and health from vending machines spread about the map. It’s essentially a whole new game mode set in a custom environment.
This mod brings the first level of the classic shooter into VR, complete with Alyx’s established set of mechanics. You’ll still be using the same weapons and fighting the same enemies from the core game, but classic textures and enemy placements remain the same.
This map isn’t available on Steam Workshop, but you can find details on how to install it here.
This fantastic custom mini campaign, split over two parts, puts you in a completely different environment to most of the Alyx campaign. In Mine Break, you’re underground surrounded by mine carts and ravaged corpses of ex-miners. Headcrab zombies are everywhere, as is dynamite — you’ll have to use the latter to unlock new areas of the map as you progress through.
In Overcharge, you’ll explore a residential block that is currently occupied by Combine soldiers. You play as a rebel sent in to stop the Combine from resuming work on their substation. This mod was one of the earlier mods made for Alyx, won 1st place in a Alyx Modding Discord server competition and, at the time of writing, is the most popular and most subscribed Alyx mod available on the Steam Workshop.
You can check it out here.
This mod takes two levels, Dam and Facility, from the N64 James Bond classic Goldeneye and brings them into VR through Half-Life: Alyx. While the mod still feels unquestionably like Alyx, the layouts do a good job of replicating the feel of the original Goldeneye maps.
Those are our picks for best Half-Life: Alyx custom mods. Which are you favorites? Let us know in the comments below.
Note: This list was first published in May 2020 and later significantly edited updated in October 2021.