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9 Half-Life: Alyx Mods We'd Love to See – Road to VR

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    Half-Life: Alyx has only been out for a week now, but many who have finished the game are already itching for more. While we don’t expect to see any major post-release changes to the game from Valve itself, the company has committed to releasing tools so that the community can tweak the game with mods for Half-Life: Alyx. Though the modding tools aren’t available yet, here’s list of Alyx mods that we’d love to see.

    Valve hasn’t made clear when they intend to release Half-Life: Alyx mod tools just yet, but considering the popularity of the game we expect to see a lot of action when it does.

    From my own take on the game, and some suggestions from Twitter, below I’ve listed a handful of mods I’d love to see for Half-Life: Alyx. I’m splitting things up into ‘Practical’ and ‘Less Practical’ sections based on how complex they’d likely be to build.

    Practical Mods for Half-Life Alyx

    Detached Weapons and Holsters

    This was one of the things that struck me right away in Half-Life: Alyx; instead of acting like independent objects, weapons are stuck to your selected ‘Weapon Hand’. And rather than grabbing your weapons from a holster and returning them when done, you use a menu to equip and unequip your weapons into your hand. I find this approach wholly unimmersive compared to being able to grab my weapons with whichever hand I see fit, or even set them down.

    Though I’m quite certain Valve did this to avoid the clunk that can come from an iffy holster system, and to prevent users from dropping their weapons, we’ve seen several games that manage to do holsters and detached weapon interactions well. Stormland (2019) showed several smart solutions to these issues (like floating weapons in front of the player for a few seconds if they drop them) which modders could use as a basis for a holster mod in Half-Life: Alyx.

    Foot Tracking

    This one might seem silly but it could be a major immersion booster. I’m not the only one who became so immersed in Alyx that at one point I tried to kick something with my foot, only to remember that the game doesn’t know where my feet are!

    Some games already support the use of Vive Trackers for tracking more parts of the player’s body, and a mod for Half-Life: Alyx which would allow for foot tracking would be quite compelling even if it meant I could kick objects in the world for added embodiment. Bonus if I can Spartan-kick a Combine soldier out a window.

    Iconic Half-Life Weapons

    The Half-Life series is home to as many iconic weapons as it is enemies to shoot them with. Unfortunately Half-Life: Alyx’s weapon roster left much to be desired both in terms of number and diversity of weapons.

    A mod to bring some of Half-Life’s iconic weapons—like the crossbow, revolver, RPG, and pulse rifle secondary fire—to Half-Life: Alyx would spice up the combat for your next playthrough. It would also be nice to wield the heavy weapons used by the large Combine soldiers (which normally disappear when they die).

    And of course there’s the Gravity Gun itself, a weapon/tool which was foundational to Half-Life 2. It would be especially fun to be able to use the gravity gun in Half-Life: Alyx because in VR you’d get to wield it much more directly than its original incarnation which relied on keyboard and mouse.

    Gravity Glove Overdrive

    Speaking of the Gravity Gun, one of the most thrilling moments of Half-Life 2 was when the Gravity Gun becomes extra powerful at the end of the game. While Valve may have avoided doing the same for Alyx to avoid turning the mechanic into a trope, I have to say that I would love a powered-up version of the Gravity Gloves which could be used to pull and (and maybe even crush) Combine soldiers and other enemies. It would be especially fun to be able to pick up the game’s larger physical items and use them as devastating projectiles.

    In-game DSLR for Screenshots

    Half-Life: Alyx is one of the most detailed VR games ever made; with all the time Valve spent making the game look so good, it would be awesome to have an in-game DSLR camera that the player could use to take screenshots like a real photographer with zoom, focus, aperture, and exposure settings.

    As suggested by Andreas “Boll” Aronsson, this would pair nicely with a ‘stop time’ mode which would freeze everything else in the game so that the player could scout the perfect angle for their shot.

    Gameplay Adjustments

    Some extra gameplay options in Half-Life: Alyx would let players could tweak things to taste. Here’s a handful of suggestions from other players:

    • Infinite ammo (@BOLL7708)
    • More enemies
    • Slow motion
    • Load from any checkpoint
    • Harder difficulty with perma-death (@NathieVR)
    • Deactivation of hints (@IvanJamesVR)
    • Manual flashlight activation
    • Sprinting (@mastergamingvr)
    • FOV slider for spectator view (@vr_oasis)
    • Less Practical Mods for Half-Life: Alyx

      Melee

      You might be wondering why I put melee in the ‘less practical’ section… after all plenty of VR games use melee. Indeed, though in order to get melee to work how most VR players would hope, I think it would take quite a bit of modding work. That’s mostly because enemy AI in the game isn’t really designed to handle physics-based melee, which means a modder attempting to add satisfying melee to the game would need to do a bunch of work to figure out how the physics system would interact with the animation and damage systems in the game to create convincing collisions and

      I expect we’ll see some coarse melee mods early on that just do some damage and trigger a generic bullet-hit animation in enemies, but that likely won’t have the visceral feel of melee in VR games like Blade & Sorcery and Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners. But hey, if someone can give us that precious crowbar, I’m all for it.

      Co-op

      This is, unfortunately, perhaps the least practical mod in this list, despite being one of the most requested and most obviously desirable. Yes, it would be awesome to have co-op in Half-Life: Alyx, but unfortunately adding such a feature is much more complex than most people realize.

      Decisions made during a game’s development (especially the way in which the physics, AI, and resource management systems work) have major implications for how easy or hard it would be to add co-op to the game. Since Half-Life: Alyx was conceived as a single player game, Valve wouldn’t have architected any of its systems to be easily synchronized between players over the internet.

      It likely isn’t impossible to bring co-op to Half-Life: Alyx (after all, there’s been a co-op mod for Half-Life 2 for a long time), but it would take substantial work to create such a mod that offers a good experience for both players.

      Half-Life and Half-Life 2 Remade for VR

      It’s actually already possible to play the original Half-Life games in VR, but such mods are of course missing lots of VR-specific interactions that would be expected from a native VR game. Rebuilding any of the Half-Life games to really work well in VR would take nearly as much time as rebuilding Alyx to work well in non-VR.

      In fact, there’s been a long-running community project called HLVR which has shown some very impressive work on that front over the years but hasn’t reached a full release of the mod for the latest headsets.

      What mods would you like to see for Half-Life: Alyx?

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