It’s strange to think now, but so many amazing and popular games were created out of mods for the original Half-Life. Without this game, which on its own has influenced the FPS genre in many ways, we wouldn’t have games like Counter Strike or Team Fortress that start off as fan mods. Half-Life 2 introduced the Source engine and even more amazing mods, so it would only stand to reason that the next title would also open the doors for a new slew of mods.
While many were hoping the next official game would be the infamous Half-Life 3, what we got instead was the virtual reality (VR) exclusive Half-Life: Alyx. Being one of, if not the best, made-for-VR games released, the potential for mods is nearly limitless. The game itself is only a year old, but already we have more than enough fan mods worth highlighting to recommend for anyone who can’t get enough VR goodness. Strap on your headset and try out the best Half-Life: Alyx mods.
What’s the only objectively negative aspect about Half-Life: Alyx? That would have to be the fact that you need to own a rather expensive piece of hardware in order to play it. Yes, this game was designed fully for VR and fully takes advantage of everything that perspective and immersion offer to create an outstanding game, but that doesn’t mean much to all the Half-Life fans out there who just aren’t able to play it. Well, with the FakeVR Mod, you can at least play the game. You’ll be missing out on all the cool interactions only possible in VR, and the mod doesn’t allow you to get through the entire game but is by far better than just not being able to play it at all.
Even before the new wave of home VR headsets came, we were waiting for a game to actually let us swing around a lightsaber. We thought this would happen with the Wii, but that opportunity never materialized. The wait might just be worth it to experience the one-to-one motion controls and VR perspective of wielding a lightsaber with the Jedi Alyx mod. You can cut through waves of zombies in a custom map using your choice of the standard lightsaber or the double-sided and long variants. The feeling of using the gravity gloves to call a lightsaber to your hand and flip it on is worth it alone. To fully complete the Jedi fantasy, you can also perform a force-push move to knock away foes.
The first in a series of custom maps, we have the Xen Thug Warehouse. Fans of the series will know the Xen name, but this map doesn’t take place in that alien world. Rather, it’s set in a dark warehouse that swarms with waves of enemies. This is a full-on survival game where you face off against more difficult enemies the longer you survive. Between rounds, you are rewarded with resin you can spend in vending machines to buy more health and ammo, plus extra areas you can unlock and discover to upgrade your arsenal. The goal here is just to survive as long as you can and set the highest score possible. This is a great mod you can sink a lot of time into if you really got into the combat of Alyx and just want more of it.
Mine Break is one of the more ambitious mods on this list, along with a few others we’ll get to, that creates an entirely new campaign. The setup is that the police found that the building you live in is full of resistance members, and you need to find a new base of operations. You need to follow a lead on a warehouse that potentially holds supplies you can fight off the Combine with, but you must navigate through an abandoned mine in order to reach it. This extra story, which has two parts at the time of writing, has unique scripted scenes and puzzles and is all around a very polished introduction to an expanding campaign. This is very reminiscent of the expansions the original Half-Life got, only with a stronger horror tinge to it.
Have you ever wanted to combine Half-Life with Minecraft? No? Well, one modder did, and the result is one of the most unique custom campaigns, to say the least. The story, if you can even call it that, is that the Combine have stolen Alyx’s diamonds, and she wants to get them back. Before you get too excited, the Minecraft aspect of this mod is purely aesthetic. You aren’t actually going to be crafting or moving and placing blocks or anything. Still, running around the Minecraft world, shooting enemies, and exploring the different environments is something you won’t get anywhere else.
The only mod on this list, to our knowledge, to win first prize in a modding competition hosted by the Half-Life: Alyx discord is another custom campaign. The setup this time is that the Combine are building a sub-station in a residential area that is assaulted by a rebel group. In the aftermath, you take over one of the few surviving rebels tasked with making sure they aren’t able to finish their plans. What makes this mod even more impressive is the fact that it was completed in only two weeks. This is another bite-sized expansion that is an absolute blast from start to finish.
Half-Life has always dabbled in horror. The first game had long sections of isolation in dark, sterile environments where headcrabs could jump out from anywhere, and the sequel had the infamous Ravenholm level. While Half-Life: Alyx itself stayed true to incorporating horror elements as well, even beyond anything before it, the Belomorskaya Station mod is a true survival horror experience from start to finish. This is not a mod for the faint of heart, either, since the VR perspective of navigating your way through an abandoned subway station full of zombies with only your wits and a limited supply of ammo will certainly push you to the limits. Thankfully, this is a relatively short experience, but it uses that time to make a tight, horrifying experience.
Speaking of horror experiences, it was only a matter of time before someone recreated the horror masterpiece P.T in Half-Life: Alyx. It is still being worked on, so more will be added, but the most important parts are already in place, such as the looping corridor, radio, changing lights, Lisa audio, the talking paper bag, and more. What is still to come includes more triggers for scares, better textures and props, a flashlight, Easter eggs, and endings. If the original teaser was too scary for you, maybe stay away from this one. Even in a work-in-progress state, just going back to that corridor again in VR is almost enough to trigger PTSD … I’ll see myself out.
Why not unwind with something a little lighter after those more stressful mod experiences with some nice, friendly minigolf? What started off as just a single hole and a weird club that looked like it was made out of bread is now a full seven-hole course with an actual putter. There’s really not much else to say about it. You walk from hole to hole yourself for even more immersion, and the game tracks your shots, holes in one, and time, and is everything you would expect from a minigolf game. But, you know what, sometimes that’s exactly what you need, so we’re glad to have this mod to scratch that itch.
Essentially the lightsaber of the Half-Life universe, it is almost criminal that the base game didn’t have any crowbar weapon included. Yes, melee weapons using motion controls in VR don’t typically work all that well, but come on. This is the crowbar we’re talking about. Add this mod in, and you can pick up your old faithful friend and use it to bash objects and enemies through the entire Half-Life: Alyx campaign. It has its own unique sounds and particle effects on hits, and the creator even challenges players to try and beat the entire game only using the crowbar. Whether you accept that challenge or not, make Gordon proud by at least giving this mod a swing.
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