My first VR experience was playing Half-Life 2 in the first Oculus Rift development kit.
It was scruffy as heck and playing with a gamepad felt awkward, but it was an undeniably fascinating glimpse of the future. Six years on, trying the original Half-Life on the far-superior Oculus Quest hardware is a similar kind of experience.
This fan conversion from developer Simon Brown, named Lambda1VR, is releasing on Monday as a sideloaded app. It uses the Xash3D-FWGS engine, which essentially gets the game running on Android. Brown has crowbarred-in six degree of freedom (6DOF) head and hand-tracking support into the mix. I’ve run through the game’s comically exhaustive tutorial to test it out and, well, it’s Half-Life… in VR!
Black Mesa’s Hazard Course is front-loaded with all the bits you don’t really care about. Jumping over gaps, ducking under pipes and mastering the long-jump (which I’d honestly forgotten even existed) is forgivably janky, but perfectly doable thanks to some smart button mapping. Locomotion is partly controller-oriented, which makes actions like climbing ladders and pushing boxes a little slippery.
More importantly, though, Brown has done a good job getting the feel of the weapons down. Madly swinging away with the crowbar at a pile of unsuspecting boxes is manic fun, as is taking out targets with an assault rifle. The best weapon in the demo is the single-handed pistol (which you can only gain by insidiously shooting a security guard).
Again, this is a port of the original and not a grander conversion; Brown isn’t changing the rules of Half-Life so much as how you abide by them. You can tell that swinging a crowbar can really be done with a casual flick of the wrist, for example, but there wouldn’t be much fun in doing that. Still, I shudder to think about taming the unwieldy controls in the game’s more demanding moments.
There’s also some quibbles to iron out. The port has a slightly disorientating warping effect when you move your head, for example. No doubt there will be other issues to discover when we’re let loose on the main campaign, but for a one-man enthusiast port this is really good stuff.
Lambda1VR releases at 8pm UTC on July 29th. You’ll need to own the original version of the game on PC in order to run it. You’ll also need to sideload the APK, which you can do using our handy guide.