Half Life: Alyx Lands on Linux

I mentioned it already a few days ago on Mastodon/Twitter (that’s why you should follow us there), Half Life Alyx, the latest VR sensation, has finally landed on Linux, not too long after the Windows version. Based on anecdotal reports it seems like it works much better in its native client than with Proton. That’s a relief, since VR is at the extreme spectrum of performance needs and does not allow for much margin to keep the illusion going. Here’s how the game runs according to this video on Youtube:

If you needed an excuse to jump into VR on Linux, Half Life: Alyx is probably a good one. I am not too bullish on VR, but HL Alyx is the one game that made me want to try VR again.

The workshop update that brings the Linux client is released with the following comments from Valve:

The Half Life: Alyx Workshop update adds a native Linux version of the game using the Vulkan rendering API, as well as optional support for using Vulkan on Windows.

Depending on your system, you may experience better performance using Vulkan, especially if your system is closer to minimum spec. To try Vulkan on Windows, open the Half-Life: Alyx main menu and choose Options > Performance > Advanced (Gear icon) > Rendering API. (You must restart the game for the Rendering API choice to take effect.)

On Linux, AMD graphics and the Mesa RADV driver are recommended for best results.

On Linux, if you had installed the game through Proton previously, please follow these steps to correctly download the update:

Go in the Properties for Half-Life Alyx by right-clicking the game in your Steam Library

Check the “Force the use of a specific Steam Play compatibility tool” box

Uncheck the box, and the download will properly complete.

I like the fact that they also released the Vulkan backend support for Windows, while early reports seem to indicate DX11 is better so far on Windows (less stutters). Since the game will be updated after release we should expect the performance profile of Vulkan to improve somewhat as well on Windows.

Personally I would be interested to hear from anyone reading this article who has tried Alyx on Linux, what kind of configuration they used, and what kind of performance they can expect on Linux with Nvidia-based and AMD-based setups.

Please comment!

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