Valve has announced that Half-Life 2’s latest update will support the upcoming virtual reality head-mounted display Oculus Rift. The feature is being called experimental and is available in the beta version. The Half-Life 2 update also adds support for SteamPipe, the new distribution system for Steam.
The feature was announced on Oculus’ developer forums by none other than Joe Ludwig, a programmer for Valve. Ludwig also led development of Oculus Rift support for Team Fortress 2. Half-Life 2’s beta version will feature a virtual reality option for everybody “in a few weeks” according to Ludwig.
“This port is a bit more raw than TF2 was when it shipped,” said Ludwig, “so we would appreciate hearing about any bugs you find. Just like in TF2 this mode is experimental, so we really want to hear what you think.”
Keep in mind this is still in beta, and Ludwig is up front about issues such as a zoomed-in UI and a “dim and hard to read” HUD.
Valve first introduced Oculus Rift support with Team Fortress 2 in March. At GDC, Ludwig commented that Valve is still experimenting with how it can design Oculus support into its games. Challenges with the VR headset include UI, motion sickness and the positioning of targeting reticules. Valve has previously tested support for Portal and Left 4 Dead.
Oculus VR was founded by Palmer Luckey through a Kickstarted campaign to finance the Oculus Rift, a self-described “virtual reality headset for immersive gaming.” The campaign was a success thanks in no small part to developers Valve, Epic Games and Unity, which helped to raise over $2.4 million from project backers around the globe.
The Oculus Rift is currently available in developer form only. The company warns that only die-hards and developers should purchase the development model, as it is limited in ways that the retail version will not be. The Oculus Rift retail model is expected to launch sometime in 2014.