The 6 Best VR Headsets for Half Life Alyx in 2021

The long-awaited sequel to Half-Life: 2 has finally landed. 

It’s gorgeous. It’s fun. And it’s a VR exclusive.

While it’s not exactly Half-Life 3, the package it comes in remains the same: a Half-Life sequel.

Half-Life: Alyx is a first-person shooter where you play as Alyx Vance as she fights for survival against a hostile alien empire. 

Heralded as one of the best VR titles for its narrative and gameplay, it would be fitting to pair Half Life Alyx with a VR console of the same caliber.

And, fortunately, there are quite a few that come to mind that would fit the bill. 

The Valve Index, made by the same company as the makers of Half Life Alyx, is one clear contender. 

But don’t take your wallets out yet. There are many other VR headsets that perform with the same firepower as Valve’s very own. Some even perform better in departments where the Valve Index is lackluster in.

Let’s look through some of the best VR headsets for Half Life Alyx players.

Best VR Headsets For Half Life Alyx At A Glance

  1. Valve Index (Editor’s Choice – Overall)
  2. Oculus Rift S (Best Value)
  3. HP Reverb G2 (Premium Choice)
  4. HTC Vive Pro / Vive Pro 2
  5. Oculus Quest 2
  6. Samsung HMD Odyssey+ (Best Budget)

1. Valve Index (Editor’s Choice – Best Overall)

Display Type:LCD
Resolution:1440×1600 per-eye (2880×1600)
Refresh rate:80Hz, 90Hz, 120Hz, 144Hz
Field of view:130 degrees
Tracking:External via two base stations
Audio:Integrated headphones
Price:$999
IPD:58mm to 70mm

The Valve Index and Half Life Alyx go together like bread and butter. It’s the best way to play Half-Life: Alyx as the game (which was developed by, you guessed it — Valve Corporation) was developed to make the most out of the Valve Index’s virtual reality capabilities.

Granted, since the console fetches a high price and demands a strong PC, its exclusivity makes it hard to recommend to just anyone. The casual crowd and beginners, for example, would have other VR systems that make for a better fit. 

But if you, by chance, would label yourself a hardcore gamer, and are willing to shell out big bucks for top-tier performance, then this VR headset is by far the best option for playing Half Life Alyx.

Ok, you may ask. What makes this console so worth raving about?

The display resolution is set to 1440 x 1600 per eye, or 2880 x 1600 total. Couple this with the RGB subpixel LCD display, and you’ll be getting beautifully crisp and sharp images that edge out against mid-tier VR systems like the Oculus Quest family. 

Considering how often you’ll have to immerse yourself in world map interactions, visceral and biting combat, puzzle solving, and world exploration — having your graphics up to par with the Valve Index is essential to make the most of your Half Life: Alyx experience. 

The controllers setup of the Valve Index is also worthy of a mention. This game requires a lot of hand movements, so having sophisticated controllers granting you the agency is a huge boon. The Valve Index, by far, excels in this department among the rest, simulating the actions of gripping objects scattered across the world as true-to-life as you would outside the screen.

For the combat elements in particular, the 144 Hz refresh rate provides a smooth gameplay experience that doesn’t stop impressing even the most nitpicky of players. The Valve Index’s screen is fast, light, and is quick to load. Even until now, 144 Hz refresh rate VR systems are hard to come by, so having a Valve Index grants you the most nail bitingly quick reaction times to amp your gameplay.

The high FOV of 130-degrees makes reactions much quicker and adds more elements to your screen. The IPD is also set to between 58-70 mm, which is more than enough to cover the majority of the population’s preferred eye distance.

In terms of its spatial audio quality, the Valve Index has full-range, extra-aural, over-the-ears, headphones speakers that surround your ears in sound. The headset itself is comfortable and highly ergonomic, which is a given considering the high price tag.

For VR enthusiasts, the Valve Index won’t disappoint. If you’re still new and looking to get into virtual reality, however, you may want to consider other systems first. Or even wait for the next-gen consoles to come out altogether.

Pros:

  • Performance-wise, it’s a top tier VR headset
  • High adjustability IPD set at 58-70 mm
  • Good audio and comfortable headset

Cons:

  • Commands a high price
  • Difficult to set up for beginners
  • One generation away from getting outphased

2. Oculus Rift S (Best value)

Display Type:Fast-switch LCD
Resolution:1280×1440 per-eye (2560×1440)
Refresh rate:80Hz
Field of view:110 degrees
Tracking:6 DOF inside-out tracking via 5 cameras
Audio:Integrated stereo speakers
Price:$399
IPD:Fixed 64mm

Do you want a VR headset that comes ready to play straight out of the box? The Oculus Rift S might suit your fancy.

The Oculus Rift S is a great budget and beginner option for gamers looking to dip their toes into the virtual reality space. Not the cheapest mind you, but the best mix of performance and price. It beats the Valve Index and HTC Vive headsets in terms of value alone, carving itself a niche as the best value VR headset you can find anywhere.

Its specs are considerably strong for a mid-range VR headset — with an impressive resolution of 2560 x 1440 (the same as the Valve Index!), a respectable 80 Hz refresh rate, a wide FoV of 110 degrees, and a fast-switch LCD display. All these help pave the road for clear visual fidelity as you traverse the world in Half-Life: Alyx.

Another great perk about the Oculus Rift S lies in its tracking. It removes the steps of setting up an external base station while still delivering excellent performance and accuracy. The price also includes two touch controllers, which worked great when I tested them. But compared to Valve Index’s sophisticated controllers, price aside, I’d pick the Index’s controllers any day of the week.

One of the Oculus Rift S’s biggest drawbacks is its fixed IPD, which is locked at around 64 mm. Although for most people this figure isn’t too big of an issue, it can immediately cross out anyone who suffers from vision problems or just so happens to fall out of the IPD range.

Sadly, the Oculus Rift S will soon be much harder to find due to the decision of Oculus to discontinue this system. While slightly disheartening, it’s good to know that the VR economy is steadily growing and experiencing a healthy product lifecycle turnover. This would eventually mean better systems, better games, and a healthier community — all positive directions that’s well worth the compromise.

But if you don’t care about all that and just want to know the answer to whether the Oculus Rift S is any good, here’s my answer:

Yes. The Oculus Rift S is a good budget value system if you manage to get your hands on them. Though be warned, they’re as rare to come by as it is hard finding the password to your old crypto wallet. 

Pros:

  • Great value for its price
  • Solid specs and resolution
  • Fuss-free set up

Cons:

  • Fixed IPD
  • Discontinued
  • Hard to find
  • Average controllers

3. HP Reverb G2 (Premium Choice)

Display Type:2 x 2.89” LCD
Resolution:2160×2160 per
Refresh rate:90Hz refresh rate
Field of view:114 degrees
Tracking:6DoF, Camera: 4 for tracking
Audio:10 mm, sit off the ear Valve speakers
Price:$599
IPD:60-68mm

The HP Reverb G2 is known for its one-two punch of having incredible visual clarity and immersive audio. 

And it absolutely delivers when playing Half-Life Alyx as well, solidifying it as one of my favorite premium choice VR headset.

To flesh out an example, I was looking through a puddle on a concrete floor in-game on the lens of the HP Reverb G2. While the difference is minute, the puddle felt completely realistic and lifelike compared to the mighty Valve Index. Yes, it beats out the king of VRs. The detail was top-notch — and with the resolution hovering at about 2160 x 2160, you’re graced with 4K visuals with each passing frame.

The auditory experience was nothing short of great either. It’s designed and engineered in collaboration with Valve, offering fantastic surround sound audio that’s highly immersive, coming together with all the immersive, bassy goodness players all know and love.

The refresh rate and field of view are pretty impressive too. Nothing too fancy or mind blowingly good, but pretty serviceable at the price of a mid-specs virtual reality system.

It’s insane how good the HP Reverb G2 is in showing dazzling visual displays and providing brilliant audio. For that alone, I’d consider it one of the best VR for Half Life Alyx. But the game is more than just those two things, and the HP Reverb G2 does encounter some drawbacks.

Maybe it was just an unfortunate coincidence, but the tracking and controllers sometimes didn’t register the way I intended it to. The lack of capacitive finger tracking also limited things freedom of movement quite a bit.

If these two worked out well, I would’ve placed it at the same tier as the Oculus Rift S — which is slightly above average. I really wanted to love it since it did feel good in your hands, but it’s been quite underwhelming for the times I’ve played it. So I was a tad disappointed at that.

But overall, I’m impressed with the highs of this VR headset. It’s like grabbing the latest-gen high-end graphics card installed and implanted directly on your eyes. 

It’s seriously that good.

Pros:

  • Excellent visual and audio output
  • Approachable price point
  • Respectable stats

Cons:

  • Tracking could be better
  • Lack of capacitive finger tracking
  • A mediocre refresh rate

4. HTC Vive Pro and HTC Vive Pro 2

Display Type:AMOLED Screens
Resolution:1440 x 1600 per eye
(2880 x 1600 pixels)
Refresh rate:90Hz
Field of view:110 degrees
Tracking:SteamVR Tracking & G-sensor
Audio:Hi-Res certificate headset
and headphones
Price:$1,199 (including controllers)
IPD:about 60mm to 73mm

The HTC Vive Pro is another contender to the Valve Index and other mid-tier headsets lineup. Even if the base station is much cheaper, the Vive Pro manages to match the Valve Index in terms of display resolution clarity. The Vive Pro 2, on the other hand, plainly beats it.

For the HTC Vive Pro headset, this means you’ll be able to play Half Life Alyx in high definition without compromising on the crucial gameplay elements. The refresh rate is at an average 90 Hz, the field of view is at 110 degrees, and it uses SteamVR tracking as the base station tracking. 

So just like the Valve Index, you’ll have to go through the hassle of setting the station up and ensuring that your PC’s rig is powerful enough to run this headset. It’s no standalone virtual headset.

As seen above, the refresh rate is considerably less in the HTC Vive Pro when compared to the 144 Hz refresh rate ceiling of the Valve Index. Though, I do have to commend HTC for taking eye range into account and having IPD adjustability at 60mm to 73mm.

Would I recommend this headset? Yes, it’s a solid choice.

With Valve Index consoles slowly getting more and more harder to find, the HTC Vive Pro is a solid alternative for top-performance gaming. It also excels at what the Index could still improve on — so it begs the question: Will this be a standoff between the two VR makers?

Interesting competition for sure. But for now, the HTC Vive Pro and Half Life Alyx is like a chocolate banana smoothie. Different taste profiles individually, but when combined, it produces something magical.

HTC Vive Pro 2

The sequel, HTC Vive Pro 2, has already been released on July 3rd, 2021. Another great option for most gamers at a similar price point to the Valve Index, perhaps even exceeding the beast in terms of value.

Pros:

  • Decent price point
  • Nice display resolution
  • Great specs

Cons:

  • HTC Vive Pro 2 is released and is loads better
  • Outdated
  • Little chance for future-proofing compared to the Valve Index

5. Oculus Quest 2

Display Type:Single Fast-Switch LCD
Resolution:1832×1920 pixels per eye
Refresh rate:60hz, 72 hz
Field of view:89 degrees
Tracking:Inside out, 6DOF
Audio:Integrated, in-strap
Price:$299 USD
IPD:62-65mm

Normally, the Oculus Quest 2 wouldn’t be able to connect with PC games as it’s purely standalone. But with the power of accessories like a USB-C type Link Cable called the Oculus Link, as well as some configurations, the budget-friendly Oculus Quest 2 can sit with the big boys and run Half-Life Alyx too. 

But, the killer question: is it any good?

For the price of $299, the Oculus Quest 2 is the cheapest mainstream VR system you can find anywhere. It’s ridiculously cheap — and the less than stellar specs prove this. The resolution is an alright 1832 x 1920 pixels per eye (3664×1920), which is nowhere near the greatest display out there. Probably not even hitting the ranges of mid-range PC builds.

It also comes at absurdly low refresh rate speeds at 72 Hz at the maximum. The field of view is restricted at 89-degrees too, which leaves a lot to be desired. The IPD is ever-so-slightly adjustable between the ranges of 62 to 65 mm. A good thing however is you don’t need to set up a ton with this device. 

It’s a plug in and play sort of deal — and for Half Life Alyx, it does run it. But it’s nowhere near as good as even the mid-tier VR headsets like the Rift S or HP Reverb G2.

Yeah, you’re not impressing anyone with this device. But for people looking to cost-cut their VR system to hell and back, your best and most reasonable option is to buy this standalone VR headset, the Oculus Quest 2.

Pros:

  • A price you can’t beat
  • Easy to set up
  • Specs can run at least

Cons:

  • The specs aren’t chart-topping
  • You need to buy an Oculus Link Cable or USB-C cord
  • Embarrassingly low refresh rates

6. Samsung HMD Odyssey+ (Best Budget)

Display Type:AMOLED, Anti-SDE
Resolution:1,440 X 1,600 per eye (2880 X 1,600)
Refresh rate:60Hz, 90Hz
Field of view:110 degrees
Tracking:2 Windows MR Cameras with 6DOF,
Inside-out Tracking
Audio:AKG Premium Audio
Price:MSRP $500
IPD:60-72mm

The Windows Mixed Reality headsets are a part of Microsoft’s lineup of virtual reality headsets that have built-in tracking. They’re known to be relatively inexpensive and, at the current market’s state, incredibly hard to find. 

There have been various iterations of this type of headset from different brands — namely Dell, HP and Acer.  But the best ones I’ve tried and would gladly recommend is the Samsung HMD Odyssey+.

The Odyssey+ is an old headset, and it’s main selling point — it’s low price — has since been overtaken by the likes of the Oculus Quest 2 and Oculus Rift S quite recently. This makes it hard to really recommend, especially if you can’t find it in the first place.

But if you’re more concerned over the VR headset itself, it’s quite comfortable. It has padding around the visor, rear, and crown cushions, but a lot of the weight is distributed at the front area. Looking down for prolonged periods can be quite a strain to your neck over time.

As for the specs, the display is one of the headset’s selling points (you can tell this headset’s age from a mile away…). But the cooler gimmick of this headset is the anti-screen door effect (SDE), where Samsung managed to get rid of the pesky mesh black lines and promote a clear and crisp visual experience.

The FOV is the same as the Oculus Rift S — which is serviceable. But as the latter headset fetches a cheaper price, it’s hard to recommend this WMR headset for its FOV. 

Though, I must admit, the built-in headphones do provide rich sound that sound high-quality. It’s easy to set up too with inside-out tracking and 6DoF for room-scale gaming. Both these factors did make playing Half-Life Alyx a smooth and enjoyable ride.

Overall, it’s a dated VR headset. I’d consider it a cheaper version of the HP Reverb G2 for the experience that it delivers. But if you have one lying around, or find one in a garage sale — it’s worth a good look.

Half-Life Alyx PC Minimum Requirements:

OS: Windows 10

CPU: Intel Core i5-7500 / AMD Ryzen 5 1600

RAM: 12GB RAM

GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB) / AMD Radeon RX 580 (8GB)

Depending on your VR headset, the more powerful it is, the higher the threshold of its minimum requirements would be too.

What is the best VR headset for Half-Life: Alyx?

The Best VR headset for Half-Life: Alyx depends on your needs.

Are you looking for the best performing VR headset regardless of the price tag? The Valve Index or the HTC Vive Pro 2 are great choices.

Do you want a beginner-friendly and easy to setup headset for Half-Life Alyx? You might want to consider the Oculus Rift S, Oculus Quest 2, or the rare Samsung Odyssey+.

Are you looking for a highly immersive experience with great visuals and equally fantastic audio? Give the HP Reverb G2 a try!

Whatever the case, the ones listed above are guaranteed to give you a great time as you play Half-Life: Alyx and other PC VR games.

We hope you’ve had some insightful takeaways about the best headsets for one of VR’s best story games.

Ciao!