VR glasses have been around for a few years now, but the one big killer application is still missing. With Half-Life: Alyx that could change now. The nature of the matter, however, is that you need appropriate glasses to play the shooter. And not only are these things relatively expensive, there are now some of them on the market, so the choice is not easy. We took a close look at the most interesting ones and checked their quality. Which one is the most suitable for returning to City 17?

Also interesting: Half-Life 3 confirmed – Why the release is very likely

What all glasses have in common

The arrangement is almost identical for almost all glasses. There are small differences depending on the model, but they all work in a similar way from the basic principle. First you connect the glasses, then you calibrate the position of the headset and the Controller by placing them on the floor and last but not least you use a controller to stake out your play area in which you can move while playing. Depending on the headset manufacturer, you have to go through this once or twice (e.g. for SteamVR and Viveport or with the Oculus driver). The explanations are always dealt with step by step and are very easy to understand and self-explanatory. In the case of glasses with sensors, care should also be taken to position the sensors in a good position and adjust them to an appropriate height so that the headset and the controller can be easily recognized. Experience has shown that a little trial and error is usually the key to success.

For Half-Life: Alyx Valve recommends a PC with Windows 10, 12GB RAM and an Intel Core i5-7500 or an AMD Ryzen 5 1600, as well as an Nvidia GTX 1060 or AMD RX 580 with at least 4GB VRAM. The hardware requirements are relatively moderate, but you must note that a better graphics card is required for some glasses with the highest level of detail.

Let's start with the glasses that, like Half-Life: Alyx, also come from Valve. The Valve index is with 1079 euros for the complete package (sensors, controller and headset) one of the most expensive models and if you listen around, many think that it is the best glasses – and we can not contradict that. Since Half-Life: Alyx was developed on this VR headset, there is a lot to be said for the Valve Index being the optimal glasses is for the shooter. It has a resolution of 1440×1600 pixels per eye and has a field of view of 130 degrees. The glasses can be easily removed using the cables included and Steam resp. Connect SteamVR. The glasses are comfortable to wear, since the weight is not too heavy, the head does not get tired as quickly. The cable for connection to the PC is routed past the side of the head and thus falls over the shoulder. The controllers are of a comfortable size, which is not a problem for large or small hands. The built-in sensors record the movements of the fingers and the positions of the hands very precisely and specifically. The safety loops of the controllers do not disturb anything in use and are implemented well and comfortably. The Valve Index is currently still available via the Steam Store and includes Half-Life: Alyx, but the delivery time is currently eight weeks.

  • Processor: Quad core or better
  • Random access memory: 8GB or better
  • Operating system: Windows 10, SteamOS or Linux
  • Graphic card: Nvidia GeForce GTX1070 or better or AMD RX480 or better
  • Connections: DisplayPort, USB 3.0







Half-Life: Alyx was developed by Valve on the in-house index.



Half-Life: Alyx was developed by Valve on the in-house index.

Source: Valve




The HTC not only mobile phones can be proven in 2016 as the HTC Vive started. At that time, it was one of the best and newest headsets on the market and was impressive at a price of 599 euros. With a resolution of 1080×1200 pixels per eye, it was the sharpest glasses on the market at the time. The headset can be connected to the PC via SteamVR in a similar way to the index, but HTC's own software Viveport is also required, which, as already mentioned above, also requires the glasses to be set up or calibrated. However, there are deductions from the glasses for their weight, which is hard on the head, since three cables are routed directly over the head. Unfortunately, the controllers are only practical for very large hands, since they are also quite large, it is difficult to access the buttons without touching the top, which means that the safety loop at the bottom of the controller is more than unnecessary. The motion detection is still good, but not on par with that of the newer VR glasses and little knickknacks like the exact finger detection, which is used extensively in Alyx. The HTC Vive is currently still available, but comes without Half-Life: Alyx in a bundle.

Hardware requirements according to the manufacturer:

  • Processor: Intel Core i5-4590 or better or AMD FX 8350 or better
  • Random access memory: 4GB or better
  • Operating system: Windows 7 or better
  • Graphic card: Nvidia GeForce GTX1060 or better or AMD Radeon RX480 or better
  • Connections: DisplayPort / HDMI, USB 2.0 or better







The HTC Vive was the VR flagship before the Valve Index came on the market.



The HTC Vive was the VR flagship before the Valve Index came on the market.

Source: Microsoft Shop USA




The Cosmos Elite is the new flagship from HTC and costs an impressive 999 euros. The glasses have a resolution of 1440×1700 pixels per eye and can also be used without a cable via a wireless module. So if you want to play Half-Life: Alyx in maximum resolution and with all details, you should definitely get more than the minimum requirements from your PC. Compared to the normal Vive from 2016, the Cosmos Elite has integrated headphones and several cameras in the headset that record the surroundings and movements. Apart from better sensors that have been installed, little has changed on the controllers. The handling has unfortunately not improved since the controllers are still the same size as the Vive and are therefore only suitable for larger hands. Accordingly, the problem with the safety loop has remained the same. Alternatively, however, there are the smaller Cosmos controllers, which are somewhat smaller and very similar to those of the Oculus Rift. However, these controllers must be purchased separately for 119 euros each and, in addition, problems with tracking can occur with fast games like Half-Life: Alyx, since the glasses sometimes lose contact with the controller if you try to pick something up from the floor, for example. When you buy one HTC Vive Cosmos Elite is currently getting Half-Life free of charge, as with the Valve Index.

Hardware requirements according to the manufacturer:

  • Processor: Intel Core i5-4590 or better or AMD FX 8350 or better
  • Random access memory: 4GB or better
  • Operating system: Windows 10
  • Graphic card: Nvidia GeForce GTX970 or better or AMD Radeon R9 290 or better
  • Connections: DisplayPort, USB 3.0

The Oculus Rift was released in 2016. The headset has a resolution of 1080×1200 pixels per eye and costs 399 euros. A good price, for a solid VR headset. The connection to Steam also works well and the Oculus Client works smoothly with SteamVR. When you switch from the client to SteamVR, a new "waiting room" opens in which to play the games from Steam can choose. The controllers of the Rift are smaller than those of the competition, but work easily with Steam without delays and are comfortable to hold. All buttons are easily accessible. Due to the small size, the safety loops are very useful compared to the Vive. The controllers of the Oculus series do not have a built-in battery, but run on AA batteries. These also last a very long time during regular operation, you didn't have to replace them for a test lasting several hours. Surprisingly, the Oculus Rift, despite being the oldest glasses, is the most comfortable to wear compared to the other glasses. Since the Oculus Rift is no longer the newest, as already mentioned, Half-Life: Alyx can only be played with a few graphic smears. The connection of the sensors and glasses also works quickly and easily, but you should make sure that you need three USB 3.0 ports for the Oculus Rift, which not every gaming laptop or even not every PC has available.

Hardware requirements according to the manufacturer:

  • Processor: Intel Core i5-4590 or better or AMD Ryzen 5 1500X or better
  • Random access memory: 8GB or better
  • Operating system: Windows 10
  • Graphic card: Nvidia GTX 1060 or better or AMD Radeon RX 480 or better
  • Connections: HDMI, USB 3.0







The Oculus Rift is one of the oldest VR glasses on the market, which has nevertheless lost little of its shine.



The Oculus Rift is one of the oldest VR glasses on the market, which has nevertheless lost little of its shine.

Source: Oculus




The Oculus Rift In contrast to its predecessor, S completely dispenses with physical sensors. With this headset, five cameras record the ground and the surroundings. It's surprising how amazingly well this form of tracking the glasses works with the cameras. The controllers are just as well captured by the cameras, which enables very precise actions. There are only changes in the design of the controller, the motion detection runs just as smoothly as in the predecessor. Alternatively, sensors can still be set up for an even more precise detection. The sensors of the controllers communicate well and smoothly with the cameras and the Oculus Client. Similar to the Valve Index, the cable is routed past the side of the head. The headset weighs almost nothing compared to the HTC Vive and is therefore very comfortable to wear. The glasses have a resolution of 1280×1440 pixels per eye and cost 450 euros. The glasses are currently only available from third-party providers such as Saturn or Otto. Half-Life: Alyx is not available for free with the Oculus Rift S.

Hardware requirements according to the manufacturer:

  • Processor: Intel Core i5-4590 or better or AMD Ryzen 5 1500X or better
  • Random access memory: 8GB or better
  • Operating system: Windows 10
  • Graphic card: Nvidia GTX 1060 or better or AMD Radeon RX 480 or better
  • Connections: (Mini) DisplayPort, USB 3.0







Compared to many other headsets, the Oculus Rift S does without additional physical sensors for tracking.



Compared to many other headsets, the Oculus Rift S does without additional physical sensors for tracking.

Source: Oculus




With the Oculus Quest As the successor to the Oculus Go, a gaming-ready VR headset comes onto the market can act as a standalone game console. They are available with 64GB and with 128GB storage space. However, it can also be connected to the computer via the Oculus Link cable and used in a similar way to an Oculus Rift S. There are hardly any problems here, at most a few latency delays between Oculus and SteamVR, which, however, hardly interfere. The connection to Steam only works via the Oculus Link cable, so Half-Life: Alyx can only be played with a connected headset. The Oculus Quest has a battery life of two to three hours, which may not sound like much at first, but is sufficient for most VR experiences. Incidentally, the whole thing is charged in about two hours. Like the Rift S, the glasses cost 450 euros in the 64GB variant and 549 euros in the 128GB variant. Only the latter is currently available on the Oculus website. However, both variations are still available through third-party providers such as Saturn or Otto, whereby extremely long delivery times must be expected.

Hardware requirements according to the manufacturer:

  • Processor: Intel Core i5-4590 or better or AMD Ryzen 5 1500X or better
  • Random access memory: 8GB or better
  • Operating system: Windows 10
  • Graphic card: Nvidia GTX 1060 or better or AMD Radeon RX 480 or better
  • Connections: (Mini) DisplayPort, USB 3.0







The Oculus Quest as the successor to the Go is a wireless VR headset that can act as an independent console.



The Oculus Quest as the successor to the Go is a wireless VR headset that can act as an independent console.

Source: Oculus VR




VR headsets are spoiled for choice. So what's the best thing to get back to City 17? Although the HTC Vive Cosmos Elite and Valve Index are probably the best headsets on the market, we recommend either the Oculus Rift S or the Oculus Quest. For the simple reason that no headsets for 1000 euros or more can be recommended for entry into VR. You can buy Half-Life: Alyx for free from Valve and HTC, but to make VR really more mass-produced, you can't recommend headsets for that much money. Apart from that, Rift S and Quest only show minimally poor technology, the differences of which are hardly noticeable. Buying an Oculus Quest is more like buying a console, one that is only designed for virtual reality. Furthermore, the Oculus series is much more comfortable to wear and the controllers are more handy than the competition.

So if you want to visit City 17 again and don't want to spend too much money, we recommend the two latest headsets from Oculus. However, if you want to immerse yourself more often in virtual reality, your PC also gives a lot and you only want the best of the best, then you are better served with the Valve Index or HTC Vive Cosmos Elite. However, the purchase price of these two glasses is very high, so that the free addition of Half-Life: Alyx can only make up little. However, if you do not want to buy glasses, then we would like to point out the option of renting VR glasses from Oculus and HTC from the provider Saturn via Grover. However, the rather impressive rental prices should be considered (for example: Oculus Quest 128GB for three months at 70 euros / month or in the case of the HTC Vive Pro even 100 euros / month with a rental period of three months). However, many headsets are currently not available. Due to the ongoing Corona crisis and the resulting stoppage of many productions, it is therefore not yet possible to predict when the situation will improve.

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