If you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our editorial policy.

Play Half-Life: Alyx as a more traditional shooter in this VR-free mod

Follow Freeman's floating arms

Since the moment Half-Life: Alyx launched in VR, folks have been trying to detach it from its headset requirements. To be fair, I get it - that the first Half-Life game in a decade would be restricted to expensive tech felt a little demoralising. But this weekend, one modder brought that dream closer to reality by quietly releasing Pancake Base, a mod that aims to make Alyx play just like its older siblings by giving our leading lady the sturdy, first-person arms of Half-Life 2's Gordon Freeman.

Goutrial (the indie developer and YouTuber who purportedly put the whole thing together) posted a brief clip of Half-Life: Alyx that looked a little closer to its older predecessors - an alternate world where Half-Life's long-awaited return didn't require shelling out for expensive plastic headsets.

Unlike an earlier attempt at VR-free Alyx, this mod doesn't try to simulate floating virtual hands on a keyboard and mouse. Instead, the developer has traded them out for Gordon Freeman's sturdier, time-tested first-person arms. Using prettied-up viewmodels from artist Jun Choi and animations ported over from Half-Life 2's MMod, Pancake Base lets you play Alyx like it were any other Half-Life.

(Pancake, as I understand, is a term VR spaces have come up with to describe non-VR gaming. Sounds tasty.)

A few UI effects are missing, sure, and there are some strange visual artefacts - but it works. That's Half-Life: Alyx as an old-fashioned run n' gun. Thing is, Alyx wasn't built as a traditional shooter. Hallways and corridors are tighter, built for the slower, stumbling pace of a real human moving their real human body through them. Tense firefights with a handful of Combine goons become trivial when you can just point n' click your way through like any past Half-Life.

What's really exciting is the momentum something like this could inject into the Half-Life modding scene. Released earlier this month, Half-Life: Alyx's modding tools look proper impressive, with this Twitter rundown from indie developer Joe Wintergreen showing some shockingly thoughtful touches for oft-neglected level designers. Opening that kit up to modders who can't access VR could bring about some brilliant, headset-free stuff.

The Half-Life 2 modding scene opened the floodgates to phenomenal singleplayer mods like Minerva: Metastasis, Research And Development and half of the then-emergent "walking simulator" genre. Naturally, there's already an attempt to bring the entirety of Half-Life 2 into the Half-Life: Alyx engine. Let's hope it doesn't take Black Mesa's 15 entire years to come to completion, eh?

If you want to give the mod a shot yourself, it can be downloaded from GitHub. Pop those folders into your Half-Life Alyx game directory, enable "-novr" in the console, and you should be good to go.

More News

Latest Articles

Rock Paper Shotgun logo

We've been talking, and we think that you should wear clothes

Total coincidence, but we sell some clothes

Rock Paper Shotgun Merch