Half-Life: Alyx launched with a secret non-VR mode for developers

It's broken, but it's there

If you want to play Half-Life: Alyx without VR, Valve is confident there’ll be a mod for that – perhaps that confidence stems partly from the fact that the developers already had a non-VR mode up and running in the game. It’s broken, it’s janky, and it’s definitely not the way to play Half-Life: Alyx, but it shipped in the launch version of the game.

It seems Valve had a debug mode for Alyx which would allow devs to move through the game’s environments without strapping on a headset. Now that the game is live and dataminers have had their day, they’ve unearthed a set of launch parameters and console commands to get that mode up and running at home.

Valve has already patched the debug mode out of the game, though it’s still possible to download old versions of Alyx thanks to Steam’s depot downloader – you can get instructions on how to use that on Reddit, and information on the special launch parameters from indie dev Casey Billadeau on Twitter.

Tyler McVicker of Valve News Network has been playing with the debug mode on stream today, and has found some console commands that make the experience slightly more complete – like one that makes VR hands appear in place, so you can press buttons and progress through some of the puzzles.

It appears that the game’s mostly playable in this mode, though elements like the Gravity Gloves appear to be broken. It’s absolutely not the right way to play Alyx, though with a legion of rabid Half-Life fans looking for a way to play without a VR headset, I’m sure we’ll see someone attempt to run through the game like this soon enough.

Check out our Half-Life: Alyx review to find out why it stands out among other VR games. Valve is still right that the fun parts of Alyx “couldn’t possibly” work in a non-VR game, and curious fans have likely already gotten spoilers on the details of the Half-Life: Alyx ending. Either way, it looks like the work of modders is just beginning.