New Half-Life: Alyx No VR Mod Removes The Best Thing About The Game

A new ‘NoVR’ mod from the GB_2 Development Team lets you play through Half-Life: Alyx without a VR headset… if you really want to. 

Following previous attempts at No VR mods for Half-Life: Alyx, GB_2 Development Team’s free mod lets you complete the story without a VR headset. “This is our biggest update yet, and we have no plans of slowing down,” the team announced, after initially launching this mod last month. “The entire game can now be played from start to finish, with the Gravity Gloves fully implemented along with combine fabricators providing weapon upgrades.” However, GB_2 states “bugs may still be present but a save reload will fix that,” and 9 out of 42 Steam Achievements cannot currently be earned.

As you can see in the video below (which contains major spoilers from the end of the campaign), the mod appears to technically work, although the conversion of some VR-specific interactions leaves parts of the game feeling pretty lifeless.

Regular UploadVR visitors don’t need to be told that Half-Life: Alyx is widely considered one of the best VR games of all-time, so news of a No VR mod may seem sacrilege. It cannot be understated how integral VR functionality is for Alyx, and many will understandably argue that removing VR dilutes the game. In our own Half-Life Alyx review back in 2020, we called it “a triumphant return; a stunningly produced, meticulously refined capping off of the past four years of VR learnings.”

Adapting Alyx into a more traditional FPS experience is a tricky ask, as the game is designed around the physicality and presence granted by playing with a headset. The enemy design and attack patterns, for example, were made for the slower pace of combat, manual reloading and aiming mechanics afforded by VR. Taken out of VR with automatic reloading and the precision of mouse aiming, Alyx’s combat would probably be quite boring.

It’s a sentiment shared by some of the development team too. In March 2020, Half-Life: Alyx project lead Robin Walker (via Polygon) said that while feelings varied across the team, he wasn’t personally worried about flatscreen mods:

“There are a set of people on the team that are concerned about that. Personally, I’m not concerned about it at all. The reason is pretty simple: The game just wouldn’t be much fun as a standard release. It will clearly demonstrate to people why we did this in VR … It will be a very crisp way of seeing all the stuff we got for the move into VR. If people play [a modded version on a standard display] and say this is just as good, that will teach me a lot. I will realize I’m wrong, and we didn’t get as much as we thought, and I love to know whenever I’m wrong.”

Beyond NoVR, there’s plenty of Half-Life: Alyx mods worth exploring. Between MonomythReturn To RaptureHalf-Life: Incursion and more, Alyx’s modding community continues adding renewed longevity to Valve’s first-person shooter. To learn more, check out our full interview from last April with CoreyLaddo and ANB_Seth, where we discussed their respective Levitation (also supported in NoVR) and Gunman Contracts mods.

Kill It With Fire VR Offers An Arachnophobia Nightmare Today On Quest, PC VR

Kill It With Fire VR is out now on Quest 2 and PC VR, offering an absolute nightmare immersive experience for anyone with arachnophobia.

Initially released for flatscreen platforms, this new Kill It With Fire port brings the indie spider-hunting game into VR, which will see you take control of increasingly crazy and powerful weapons of spider destruction in a quest to rid environments of the creepy crawlies.

After playing through some of the Quest release earlier this week, the highlight was just how much the game leans into the nightmare scenario. I’m not someone who is particularly freaked out by spiders – I live in Australia, so seeing them around the  house is a fairly common occurrence – but even so, the game did a good job at making my skin crawl.

Spiders will be hiding everywhere – in drawers, behind furniture, under ornaments. Every time you uncover one, a series of unsettling staccato string notes put you on edge and play uncomfortable melodies as you use items or weapons to kill the spider before it runs off. The frantic pace and the off-kilter string melodies work well together, giving me goosebumps even when I felt prepared for sudden spider jump scares.

That said, the eerie ambiance is perhaps better than some of the interactions that surround it. From what I played – a few of the game’s opening levels – I found the interactions to be a bit unreliable and hectic. You can pick up almost any item to hit a spider with, but even whacking a standard rectangle-shaped TV remote against a spider on a flat surface yielded some pretty strange results.

kill it with fire vr

Sometimes spiders will get squashed as expected, but I also had instances where items flew around the room or an object would fling a spider across the environment instead of squashing it.  There’s an element of intended imprecision that’s no doubt part of the playful game design, but I still found the interactions to be a little all over the place for my liking. Perhaps things improve as the levels progress – especially as you unlock more of a fire-based arsenal and others weapons that depend less on physicality – but the physics and item interactions felt a little inconsistent to start.

That said, the ambiance created by the build up and eventual discovery of each spider is great. I can’t imagine someone with arachnophobia enjoying the game, which is actually a counter-intuitive compliment. There are settings to turn off or tune down some of those spider effects, such as the unsettling strings, but I’d argue that using them would almost defeat the purpose of playing the game in the first place.

If you’re looking to get properly freaked out by some virtual spider hunting, then Kill It With Fire is available now on Quest 2, Quest Pro and PC VR via Steam, with a PSVR and PSVR 2 release coming later this year.

5v5 Tactical Multiplayer Shooter Breachers Available Now On Quest, Pico & PC VR

Breachers, a new 5v5 tactical multiplayer team-based shooter from the developers of Hyper Dash, is available today on Quest, Pico and PC VR platforms.

Breachers takes cues from Rainbow Six Siege and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, offering multiplayer tactical action with two teams of five playing either as attackers breaching the bomb site or defenders staving them off. 

Developers Triangle Factory says that there’s more skill and strategy involved in Breachers compared to the studio’s previous release Hyper Dash, adding that over 77,000 players took part in Breachers open alpha pre-release.

There’s also some new content in this full release compared to the alpha, such as two more “bomb” maps, a Team Deathmatch mode (with an accompanying new map), a practice shooting range and access to private servers for those who want to set up their own matches.

We’ll be trying out Breachers this week, so stay tuned for our full thoughts soon. If you can’t wait for our verdict, you can grab Breachers now for $29.99 on Quest 2, Quest Pro, Pico and SteamVR. Triangle Factory previously stated that cross-platform play would be supported across “all major VR platforms,” but we’ve reached out to confirm further details on specific cross-play support at launch.

Pistol Whip Official Modding Tool Enters Open Beta

Cloudhead Games revealed that the official Pistol Whip modding tool arrives next month for PC VR, and you can try it now through an open beta.

First revealed during our Upload VR Showcase Winter 2022, Pistol Mix is the anticipated modding tool for creating custom scenes in Pistol Whip which, unsurprisingly, is only available for the PC VR edition.

“Build a custom Scene from the ground up, including audio track, selection and placement of enemies, environment design, colours and lighting, then share your custom ‘Remixed’ Scene with the world on” confirms Cloudhead. You see this in action below:

While Pistol Mix officially launches on May 31, the open beta is now live for anyone looking to try it sooner. Available to download through Cloudhead’s Discord server or, custom creations can then be shared and downloaded through this platform. Once the tool reaches full release remixes will be accessible directly inside the headset from Pistol Whip.

Pistol Whip is available now on the Meta Quest platform, PC VR, Pico 4, PSVR, and PSVR 2, though keep in mind Pistol Mix is a PC VR version exclusive.

Firewall Ultra Hands-On: Blinded By The Light On PSVR 2

First Contact Entertainment gave me something new to experience in consumer VR with a recent hands-on demo of Firewall Ultra.

The 4v4 tactical shooter coming “soon” to PSVR 2 gave me a new tactic to try. I found myself attempting to assault my enemy’s senses with a flashlight. First Contact says the game uses Sony’s eye-tracking to tell whether your eyes are closed, so if you’re careful you can keep yourself from being temporarily blinded by the searing light beam of a bright flashlight cutting across a dark room. You can also hold up your hands to shield your eyes from the bright lights.

PSVR 2’s eye tracking is also used to make selections in the game’s menus, as part of stabilizing your aim, and to target where you throw grenades. It’s also “used to avoid the effects of flash bangs and flashlights, so you can close your eyes physically to avoid that from affecting your vision,” First Contact’s David Jagneaux explained. “My favorite use of it is on the cameras where after you’ve died in the game you transition to looking in the cameras and you can look at enemies, and it highlights them in red for your teammates who are still alive to see where they’re at. So you’re still useful even if you’ve gone down.”

The Firewall Ultra demo showcased a more detailed vision of fast-paced tactical team battles compared with its 2018 predecessor, Firewall Zero Hour. I last played Zero Hour with Jagneaux on the original PSVR when he was UploadVR’s Games Editor. Now he’s at First Contact and we recently played Ultra together on PSVR 2 before sitting down for a short interview.

“How dare you,” I asked him about his departure from UploadVR. I didn’t wait for an answer and proceeded with questions about Firewall Ultra.

“The people that play the previous game I think have a lot of expectation for what this game can be. And I think that the people that are new to PSVR hopefully will approach this with a lot of interest and hunger for something that’s meaty and has true progression,” Jagneaux said. “Resources have shifted to this game, obviously, but there’s still a very active community and people play it all the time.”

We played three matches on two maps, with best of three rounds each. I found myself drawn into the deep tactics available here. The maps, Oil Rig and Social, featured multiple routes to the objectives using either vertical and horizontal paths. PSVR 2’s OLED display and Firewall Ultra’s varied lighting tempted me to crouch and hide in dark corners, but when you’re hiding for 20 seconds and your team is getting mowed down in a hallway nearby, camping may not last long.

I couldn’t get the hang of throwing an eye-tracked grenade in my demo time, but I also didn’t go through a complete tutorial where I successfully accomplished that task a couple times. The game will have a full tutorial at launch, according to First Contact.

HDR & Flashlights

Last year at SIGGRAPH, I went eyes-in with Meta’s high-dynamic range Starburst VR headset research prototype and I felt myself squinting at a light that was so bright my eyes reacted the same way they might staring into a bright indoor light bulb. While Sony’s PSVR 2 headset doesn’t have the same range or brightness attributes as Meta’s demo from last year, Sony’s headset is also VR’s first consumer HDR head-mounted display. Comments on our reporting of Meta’s research device last year considered HDR’s potential use for simulated flash bangs. Seeing that overall concept realized here just a few months later by Sony and First Contact stands out as an example of PlayStation’s commitment to moving VR gaming forward.

Firewall Ultra uses Unreal Engine 5 and also features dedicated servers rather than peer-to-peer networking. That networking change that could lead to a more reliable matchmaking experience, according to First Contact. The game should also expand arsenal available to players, with Jagneaux confirming Ultra adds sniper rifles absent in the first game.

Firewall Zero Hour supported the PlayStation VR Aim Controller with the sequel supporting Sense controllers. A Sony representative said they had “nothing to share” on the potential of a new PlayStation VR Aim Controller or gun stock accessory that could be used with games like Firewall Ultra.

We’ve come to think of PSVR 2’s early 2023 release as a sort of soft launch for the platform. While First Contact wouldn’t confirm a release date for the game yet, if it arrives before Christmas there’s a good chance Firewall Ultra will serve as a major draw for players to adopt Sony’s second-generation VR platform in both 2023 and the years to come.

Sony paid for UploadVR’s travel costs to attend a Firewall Ultra demo at PlayStation’s headquarters in California.

Guest Post: How CM Games Ported Into The Radius To Quest

In spring 2021, our VR team in CM Games decided to port the PC version of Into the Radius VR to the Meta Quest Store. We released it in September 2022 and had it paid off in a week. Now it’s time to share the details.

This article will be helpful for game developers who are considering porting their games or publishing on Meta Quest Store. We will explain how we came to Meta Quest 2, what issues we encountered when porting the PC version and how we solved them.

The following piece is a guest post sent to UploadVR by CM Games, written by Into the Radius producer Aleksei Shulga. 

Choose The Best Porting Studio

Let’s discuss how you can arrange porting in general.

  • Co-development. A partner integrated into your work process with your internal team being heavily involved in the production process and calling the shots while the partner studio provides the missing expertise and human resources.
  • Outsource model. You entrust the game to a partner to take care of it from the beginning to the platform certification with some supervision and guidance from your side. Sometimes the revshare model is used.

For Into the Radius, we opted for a co-dev model from the get-go for the following reasons:

  • Accelerated work pace. The game was constantly updated as part of our premium live game business model. While we negotiated the porting, the game was already in production, and a major update was planned. If we wanted to use the outsourcing model, we would have had to wait until the game was more or less finished to outsource it; otherwise, no one would want to estimate the final cost with an ever-changing work scope.
  • Preserving gameplay. There is a vast difference in specs between the PC and Standalone VR, and our design team had to make sure that if they had to make concessions, it wouldn’t ruin the experience.
  • Future updates. We wanted to keep updating the game, so we either had to depend on a partner to continue to do it or be able to do it ourselves.

To sum up, we didn’t have much choice regarding the model. Your experience may differ, but it’s critical to think through your product plans for a few years after porting.

That’s why we chose to collaborate with a potential porting partner. We also encourage you to pay attention to the following points in your selection process:

  • Know the team. During the search process, you should interview the potential partners’ team members to ensure they are competent and communicate effectively. Remember that companies always put their best foot forward and present the best employees to the client. But there is no guarantee that these particular people will be working on your project or doing so for an extended period. It can be helpful to specify that you want to meet the team working directly on the project before you sign the contract or even put these employees’ names on it, providing for the possibility of replacing them for various reasons.
  • Partner portfolio matters. A good portfolio is not only the guarantee that you can port the game to another platform but also that the porting will be high quality. Meta Quest Store is still a closed platform, therefore, a partner portfolio will help to proceed with pitching.

In our case, we partnered with Snowed In Studios. They are part of Keywords Studios, which is well-known to Meta and a respected service provider globally.

  • Price. When you first contact a studio try and get a very rough ballpark estimate for the cost of the work involved, we found out that the estimates can vary more than thirty times between studios. Save time on the negotiations with the ones that are clearly out of reach or inadequately low. If you are working on a co-development model, you will likely be doing time and materials agreement since you will change the game as you port it and make monthly payments for the work approved by your side.
  • Ability to port. Into the Radius is a challenging game to port to mobile devices — large open spaces where players can roam freely, manual control of items with each item meticulously detailed rather than represented as an icon in an inventory slot. So to make sure it can be done with an acceptable level of gameplay compromise, it’s essential to manage risks. The earlier you can do this, the less money you will spend on a potentially failing project.

Make all the cuts to reach the target frame rate and see how bad it looks, what the most challenging areas are, and try to figure out if and how you can handle it, at least theoretically.

Quest Store Pitch

The Meta Quest Store is a closed and carefully curated platform with high standards for the technical quality of the games released there. The platform determines whether you can release a game in the main store or have to choose others, such as App Lab and Side Quest.

Chances are, if this is your studio’s first VR game, and you don’t have other platforms where your game already runs great, it’s easier to release it to the App Lab first, collect data, iterate the product, and then pitch it to the main store.

The game was doing well on Steam and it helped us in making contact with Meta. We got contacts, met the people in charge, and prepared a pitch deck with all the data and plans we already had. And we held several face-to-face meetings.

We chose this option because we’ve already had success on Steam, selling over 100,000 copies and getting highly positive feedback. We outlined our goals in the pitch deck, after which Meta representatives expressed doubts about the possibility of 1-to-1 porting. But we were able to convince them, thanks partly to thorough communication and the choice of a porting partner.

In September 2022, Meta Platforms released about 5-10 games monthly to give each product its time in the limelight. That’s why platform representatives want to ensure you deliver on time and with high quality.

Porting Stage

Porting a live game is more complicated than a finished one. You need to prepare the original version, merge the original and the ported versions, then control both streams. For a better workflow, communication is key.

  • Refactoring the original version. When the porting team started their work, the ITR team was already busy with the 2.0 update, reworking the graphics, game maps, and even the gameplay loop. So we decided to do separate branches before the release of the 2.0 version, with the porting team focusing on optimizing the Unreal Engine and overall game systems, and the content optimization was to happen after the merge.
  • Monthly planning. The porting studio acts as a contracted group of employees who port the game in stages. Thus, we can easily calculate the budget for a given period. We encourage you to discuss the priorities of each stage, leverage your partner’s experience, and give feedback on the plans and results obtained. Things change, and if both your teams are on the same page about where you’re going now, you can solve problems more effectively.
  • Regular check-ups. Our senior team members joined the daily porting team meetings twice a week. It helped to strengthen ties between the teams and better align developer efforts. The porting team was integrated into our Slack and Jira, and we tried to eliminate as many communication barriers as possible. We also had weekly meetings with management to assess progress, team composition, and goals for the next sprint.
  • Different time zones. We had an 8-hour time difference between studios. It turned out not to be as detrimental as we thought at first. As long as you have a couple of hours of reasonable work day time overlap, it’s ok from our experience. With some workflow modification, it also ensures uninterrupted work on the binary files, because when one team has finished its workday, the other has just started.
  • Communication with Meta. You should also keep your Meta curator informed about the status of the version. Set deadlines for milestones, report them, and meet them. If you fall behind on your deadlines, notify them in advance. The more professional and committed you are, the more credibility you will have.

Public Announcement

After six months of porting, we were allowed to announce that we were preparing a Quest 2 version of the game with a teaser. The release window was still considered September, but in most cases, we are not allowed to announce any dates until certification is complete. The public announcement also included information that there would be a closed Beta.


We announced the beta at the end of the teaser. Players had to open a landing page and leave an email to sign up for testing to participate. 

It was a fully functional version of the game with all the necessary content, with most of the team’s efforts focused on performance improvements and bug fixes. We decided to divide the beta access into several waves with an increasing number of participants in each wave, starting with 20 select users from the core community and ending with 2,000 in the next waves.

The beta was also critical for us to answer questions from the community and potential buyers. For example, does the trailer reflect the actual gameplay? Is the game truly a fully-featured Into The Radius? The beta release gave users enough information to alleviate any concerns.


Before your game can be released to the store, it must pass the official certification process. By the start of the process, you supply a complete build, and the designated quality assurance vendor tests it for compliance with the Virtual Reality Checks (VRCs). All bugs are logged and must be addressed in a timely manner or requested to be waived by your project’s curator.

Two VRC points usually cause the most problems. First, it’s performance — there should not be long FPS drops during the game. And second, the progress of the game should not be blocked in any way.

Also, remember that all marketing assets and the store page must be approved and ready several weeks before the release. The earlier you have everything ready, the more leverage you have to publish the page if the certification goes perfectly. The earlier you publish the page, the more time you will have to affect traffic using marketing tools.


Porting Into the Radius to Meta Quest 2 was a challenge because of our business model of free updates, the game’s scale, and complexity. But it turned out to be justified financially, and in terms of audience response. It can be a much easier process for simpler games or games with a different structure, requiring much less investment.

In any case, if you are considering porting your game to Meta Quest 2, ask yourselves these questions:

  • How complex / hardware-demanding is your game? 
  • Do you have the budget or available investment to do it? 
  • Do you have good metrics to show from other platforms?

Then choose a porting approach and present everything to Meta. If they are interested, decide whether you will do it yourself, find a partner, or use a mixed scheme as we did.

Once again, communication is key to the success of multi-stakeholder projects. Not only do you need to make a great product, but you need to do it on time and with well-delivered communication.

Aleksei Shulga, the director and producer of Into The Radius VR, went from a 3D artist to developer to producer during his 15+ year long career path in the industry.

Call of the Sea VR Sets Sails For Quest 2 Today

Call of the Sea VR brings the Bafta-nominated puzzle adventure to virtual reality, and it’s out today on Quest 2.

Developed by Out of the Blue and published by Raw Fury, Call of the Sea VR relies on puzzle-solving over combat. Set in the 1930s, this tells the story of Norah Everhart, whose family suffers from a mysterious illness. As Norah, you investigate her husband Harry’s disappearance on a South Pacific island near Otaheite (Tahiti), after he vanished while searching for a cure. With only his photo and island coordinates to work from, Norah sets off on an “otherworldly tale of mystery and love”.

Initially launched for PC, Xbox, and PlayStation, Call of the Sea first appeared in 2020, later being nominated for BAFTA’s Debut Game in 2021 and Best Immersive Game at the 2022 Raindance Immersive Awards. Judging by the above gameplay trailer, this VR adaptation doesn’t appear to deviate much from the original flatscreen release, beyond expected additions like motion controls and 360 degree immersive environments.

Call of the Sea is out today on Meta Quest 2 and Meta Quest Pro for $19.99.

Dead Hook Looks Like Doom VFR On Quest 2, Arrives This May

Reminiscent of Doom VFR, Dead Hook brings a new VR roguelike shooter from Stride developer Joy Way, coming to Quest 2 next month.

Developed by Joy Way (the studio also working on upcoming games Red Flowers and Stack), Dead Hook promises an “explosive mix of roguelike shooter genre with brutal combat.” Set on the planet Resaract, you play as Adam Stone, a “mercenary, smuggler, thief, and devoted husband” shooting his way through hordes of demons. Here’s the official description and announcement trailer:

Explore the elder planet Resaract and take on the role of Adam Stone, a mercenary, smuggler, thief, and devoted husband. Find legendary weapons and customize your character with 100 buffs and permanent upgrades to make each run unique. Experiment with different strategies and tackle the challenges that await you in the game. You will embark on a journey to uncover the secrets of Resaract and AI duality, facing tough choices and unexpected twists along the way.

Revealing more across Twitter, Joy Way claims Dead Hook entered development over two years ago and revealed its a reworked version of PC VR roguelike Outlier, which was cancelled after two months in early access last year. At the time, Joy Way stated that it had “overestimated the demand for this game” and “underestimated the complexity of the roguelike genre,” claiming Outlier had a low chance of becoming profitable.

Dead Hook arrives on Meta Quest 2 and Meta Quest Pro on May 18. When asked about a potential PSVR 2 version, Joy Way stated, “Nothing in the works right now. We are keeping a close eye on the platform’s growth and wish it great success.”

Zenith: The Last City Introduces PvP Combat In Next Update

Zenith: The Last City receives a new PvP mode in the upcoming Skyward Summit update, introducing 1v1 fights and team duels.

Announcing this Zenith: The Last City addition through PlayStation Blog, developer Ramen VR offered a first look at this new mode for its MMORPG. It confirms Skyward Summit’s PvP will “primarily focus on the implementation of one-on-one and team duels,” but states the team’s exploring additional options for PvP in future patches. Ramen also reveals this next update will introduce the Cyber Ninja class, alongside player housing, resource harvesting and crafting.

It’s not all good news for Zenith fans lately, however. Last month, Ramen VR announced it’s dropping support for the original Quest and PSVR headsets later this year. While Quest owners will have full access removed after September 15, 2023, original PSVR owners can still play in their own isolated shard running version 1.2.2 of Zenith. In a separate post, Ramen cites PlayStation Move as a factor, stating support for these controllers is “just not possible” despite the team’s efforts. 

Zenith: The Last City is available now on the Meta Quest platform, PSVR, PSVR 2, and PC VR, while Skyward Summit is currently targeting a Q2 2023 release window.

Peacock Available Now On Quest 2 & Quest Pro, Includes 3 Months Free Access

NBC’s streaming service Peacock is now available on Meta Quest 2 and Quest Pro, including three free months of Peacock Premium for existing Quest owners.

The Peacock app goes live today for Quest users in the United States (and certain US territories), which they will be able to launch as a resizeable tile in Horizon Home. Peacock offers access to a few popular shows, including The Office (US), Parks and Recreation, Yellowstone, Saturday Night Live and more.

Other existing streaming services on Quest, such as Netflix, launch as fully standalone VR apps with their own immersive viewing environments. However, the Peacock app on Quest launches as a 2D tile in the Quest home, allowing it to be used while multitasking. This means users can stream Peacock while browsing the internet or while open alongside other 2D apps on Quest. The Peacock screen is fully resizeable and expands out to “full theatre size.”

However, Meta confirmed to UploadVR that there is currently no co-watching functionality, so multiple users won’t be able to watch Peacock content together in the same virtual space.

As part of Meta and NBC Universal’s ongoing three-year partnership, Quest owners will also be able to redeem some degree of free access to Peacock Premium, depending on the setup date of their Quest. Existing Quest owners who registered a Quest 2 or Quest Pro before April 11, 2023 are eligible for three free months of Peacock Premium at no extra cost. Those who purchase and register a new Quest 2 or Quest Pro between now and April 11, 2024 will receive 12 months of Peacock Premium.

To redeem either offer, Meta says users should check their email “for a message from Meta Quest with a unique promo code and a redemption link,” which will prompt them to create or sign-in to a Peacock account. In order to redeem the offer, users will have to provide a credit card and will be charged for a monthly auto-renewing subscription once the three or twelve-month promotional period expires.