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Home How to How to play Half-Life: Alyx on the Oculus Quest

How to play Half-Life: Alyx on the Oculus Quest

Whether you want to play it with Oculus Link or wirelessly, we’ve got you covered.

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Half-Life: Alyx is Valve’s first flagship VR title, and it’s the first new Half-Life game in well over a decade. Valve has, once again, lived up to its pedigree as one of the world’s foremost video game developers and created a must-have title but, as of this moment, it’s only available on a PC running Steam. But Oculus Quest owners can rest assured knowing that they don’t need to purchase another VR headset just to play; all you need is a decent gaming PC and an Oculus Quest to get playing!

  • For a simple wired experience
  • Freely wireless with ALVR
  • Get your entire desktop with Virtual Desktop

Products used in this guide

  • The easiest way to connect: Oculus Link cable ($80 at Best Buy)
  • When a USB-C port isn’t available: Modal 10-foot cable ($27 at Best Buy)
  • See your computer’s desktop through your Quest: Virtual Desktop ($13 at Oculus)
  • Unlock your Quest’s full potential: Sidequest (Free at SideQuest VR)

For a simple wired experience

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Wired is the best way to go right now for two main reasons. First, the wired experience is unbelievably easy to set up and, second, you’ll be getting the highest quality video and audio quality with a wire. To get started, all you’ll need is a USB Type-C cable to plug your Oculus Quest into your computer.

The $80 Oculus Link cable will offer the highest quality experience and is officially recommended by Oculus. If your computer doesn’t have a USB Type-C port, you can opt for a less expensive $27 Modal 10-foot cable that’ll plug into the USB Type-A 3.1 ports on your PC. Once you’ve got the cable, follow these instructions.

Make sure Steam, SteamVR, and Half-Life: Alyx are all installed on your computer. You can get Steam here. You don’t need to open SteamVR at this time.
Open up the Oculus software on your PC.

  • If you don’t already have it, download it here and then sign in with your Oculus account.

Connect one side of the USB cable to the appropriate port on your PC and the other side to your Oculus Quest.

The Oculus app on your computer should recognize the Oculus Quest once it’s plugged in. Click Continue on the screen that pops up to enable Oculus Link.

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During the Oculus Link setup, you can test the cable to make sure it’s fast enough to be used with Oculus Link by clicking the Test button at the bottom of the screen. If your cable fails the test, you should consider one of the cables we recommended above.

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Click Continue and put the Oculus Quest on your head. You’ll be asked to set up the Guardian boundaries for your room.

On the Oculus Home screen, select Apps on the left-hand side of the screen, and then start SteamVR.

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If you have not previously set up the room boundaries in SteamVR, you’ll need to follow through with the steps on your PC. This will appear automatically on your monitor if it was not previously set up.

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Once SteamVR loads up, press the menu button on the left Oculus Touch controller to pull up the SteamVR dashboard.

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Launch Half-Life: Alyx and enjoy.

Freely wireless with ALVR

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While a wired experience will deliver the highest quality and requires the least bit of configuration, wires just aren’t all that great to deal with. After all, that’s probably the single biggest reason to get an Oculus Quest, so why compromise now? When considering a wireless setup for your PC VR needs, there are two big options: the free option, ALVR, or the paid option, Virtual Desktop.

For this tutorial, you’ll need to use Sidequest to get these apps installed onto your Oculus Quest. Please follow our Sidequest guide here. Since it’s free, we’ll start by showing you how to install and use ALVR.

On your desktop computer, navigate to the ALVR Github.

Download ALVR.zip. You can find this under the Assets section of each release in Github.

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Extract ALVR.zip to a permanent location on your computer. Something like My Documents or the Desktop folder is fine.

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Open up the ALVR folder you just extracted and run ALVR.exe. Accept any security warnings that appear.

Now to load ALVR onto your Oculus Quest.

Plug your Oculus Quest into your computer with a USB cable. Sidequest should recognize your Oculus Quest if you’ve gone through our Sidequest setup guide.

Open up the Sidequest application on your desktop PC. Click on Games and Apps at the top, then use the search bar on the left side of the screen to search for ALVR or click here. The full title name you’ll see listed in Sidequest is ALVR – Air Light VR.

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On the store page within Sidequest, click the pink Install Latest button to download and install ALVR onto your Oculus Quest.

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Once the installation is complete, unplug the Oculus Quest and fit it to your face as you normally would when playing. Navigate to your Library.

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Select Unknown Sources from the left-hand list, and then select ALVR from the main pane.

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ALVR will launch into a white screen. Pull your visor up but leave the Oculus Quest on your head to keep it from falling asleep. On your computer, click the Connect button within the ALVR app next to the Oculus Quest listing.

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Once it’s connected, you’ll see your headset’s statistics and information displayed in the ALVR app on your desktop. SteamVR will automatically launch and you’ll be greeted with SteamVR home from within the Oculus Quest.

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If you have not previously set up the room boundaries in SteamVR, you’ll need to follow through with the steps on your PC. This will appear automatically on your monitor if it was not previously set up.

steamvr-room-setup.jpg?itok=kZJLTmuS

Once SteamVR loads up, press the menu button on the left Oculus Touch controller to pull up the SteamVR dashboard.

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Launch Half-Life: Alyx and enjoy.

Get your entire desktop with Virtual Desktop

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Virtual Desktop is the other wireless experience, and it’s installed much in the same way that ALVR is with one exception: you’ll need to buy a license for Virtual Desktop first. Begin on your desktop computer.

Open the Oculus App and search for Virtual Desktop or just click here.
Purchase Virtual Desktop but don’t install it.

Download the Virtual Desktop streaming app on your PC. Run the application once it’s done downloading.

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Now that you have the program, here’s how to get going.

Plug your Oculus Quest into your computer with a USB cable. Sidequest should recognize your Oculus Quest if you’ve gone through our Sidequest setup guide.

Navigate to the Sidequest app on your Desktop PC. Click on Games and Apps at the top, then use the search bar on the left side of the screen to search for Virtual Desktop or just click here.

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On the store page within Sidequest, click the pink Install Latest button to download and install Virtual Desktop onto your Oculus Quest.

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Once the installation is complete, unplug the Oculus Quest and fit it to your face as you normally would when playing. Navigate to your Library.

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Select Unknown Sources from the left-hand list, and then select Virtual Desktop from the main pane.

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Follow the in-app prompts to complete setup. Virtual Desktop will pass your Oculus Guardian room setup to SteamVR and shouldn’t require any additional setup from Steam.

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Once SteamVR loads up, press the menu button on the left Oculus Touch controller to pull up the SteamVR dashboard.

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Launch Half-Life: Alyx and enjoy.

And there you have it, all the options you could want for playing Half-Life: Alyx on your Oculus Quest. Keep in mind that you’ll experience the highest quality visual and audio fidelity when using the wired Oculus Link experience. The wireless experiences outlined here will be slightly lower quality but will depend entirely on how fast your home’s network is. A faster home network will guarantee a higher quality wireless experience. Either way, you’ll be experiencing the best VR has to offer with Half-Life: Alyx.

Half-Life is back!

Half-Life: Alyx

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$60 at Steam

The story we never knew

Half-Life: Alyx is a bold comeback for Valve’s previously-stagnant AAA franchise, described by Valve itself as its “flagship VR game.”

The fastest way to get connected

Oculus Link Cable

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$80 at Best Buy

Simplicity in design

When you are ready to turn your Oculus Quest into an Oculus Rift, the Oculus Link cable is all you need. Just plug it in and you’ll be playing high-end PC VR games without any annoying configuration or additional steps.

The less expensive path

Modal 10′ USB cable

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$27 at Best Buy

Less money, more compatibility

Modal’s 10-foot USB-A to USB-C cable works perfectly for the Oculus Quest when your computer doesn’t have a USB Type-C port to plug into. It’s also less expensive than the official cable and features a durable braided protective cover.

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