The Best VR Gear for Half-Life: Alyx
With just a week to the Half-Life: Alyx, many avid VR and Half-Life enthusiasts are scrambling last-minute to acquire VR headsets with which they will play the game. A lot of the top-of-the-line headsets are currently heavily backordered although the Oculus Quest 128GB VR headset recently went back into circulation.
Fortunately for most VR enthusiasts, a lot of the current headsets are compatible with Half-Life Alyx. The best headset for the experience, Valve’s own Valve Index headset that comes with a free Half-Life: Alyx, has been out stock for quite some time now so you are most likely going to settle for ‘second-choice’ headsets for the Alyx experience
Below is a look at some of the hardware options for the Half-Life: Alyx experience. They don’t match the Index specifications but they should still provide reasonably good experience. Valve assured that the game will be compatible with all the Windows-based Steam VR-compatible virtual reality headsets so if you haven’t acquired the headset yet, there are other wide options to pick from.
Valve Index Headset
Valve’s Index headset is the best compatibility VR headset for Half-Life: Alyx. It’s a bit pricey but it comes with its own unique Index controllers that can track finger motion. The game has also been designed to optimize the Index controllers.
Since it is already hard to come by, you can get the Valve’s new controllers separately if you already have a Vive VR headset. Add these on to get the most out of the game with the Valve controllers without spending a fortune on a new headset. Many Vive owners will be upgrading their controllers instead of acquiring an entirely new virtual reality headset. Valve will also be offering Half-Life: Alyx for free with every purchase of its Index bundles.
The Valve Index headset offers a massive edge over the other mid-level VR headsets in the market. It has an impressive display and audio but it still needs installed Lighthouse light-emitting tracking sensor boxes inside the room where you will use the headset. It doesn’t feature an in-headset self-contained motion tracking.
The HTC Vive headset has been around for a number of years. It still delivers a good experience and is frequently on sale. You can purchase the reasonably-priced HTC Vive and separately add the Valve Index controllers. The Valve Index and the Index controllers are cross-compatible with Vive hardware that also runs SteamVR. You can also upgrade these hardware pieces later on to a Valve Index headset.
The Vive headset is available in the original version as well as the higher resolution Vive Pro headset. Vive frequently issues deals on its line of headsets so you can find some excellent deals when you shop around.
Samsung Odyssey (Windows Mixed Reality Headsets)
Microsoft has a large selection of third-party virtual reality headsets-the Windows Mixed Reality headsets. They are more affordable and have built-in headset tracking. The Windows Mixed Reality headsets are also compatible with SteamVR.
The Samsung Odyssey is also often on sale and has a great build and high-quality display. The Odyssey is the best of the Windows Mixed Reality headsets with the rest of the WMR hardware by Acer, Dell and HP having more or less flopped.
Oculus Rift S
The PC-connected Oculus Rift S headset came out at the same time as the standalone Oculus Quest headset. Both headsets cost $399. The Rift S does not need external cameras and does all the motion tracking via cameras on the headset. The Rift S may not be the best virtual reality headset for Half-Life: Alyx but it will still work. Lately, this headset has also been running out of stock.
Finally, there is the standalone Oculus Quest VR headset. As far as Half-Life: Alyx compatibility goes, it is something of a wildcard. For the headset to work with Half-Life: Alyx, it will have to be connected to a VR-ready PC via a USB-C cable. It is not necessarily the best option but it also on the table and it remains to be seen how it will perform next week.