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How To Play Half-Life: Alyx In Seated Mode

Configure SteamVR and the in-game options so you can play Half-Life: Alyx sitting down.


Half-Life: Alyx has a number of accessibility options for players with disabilities, players who are prone to motion sickness, and players who are new to virtual reality. One of the most useful options is the ability to play Half-Life: Alyx seated.

Many mainstream VR games allow you to do this, but since Half-Life: Alyx is a full-length VR game and a VR-exclusive--meaning there will be no other way to play it except with a VR headset and PC--we thought it was particularly important to highlight how to do it.

Below you'll find a quick guide on playing Half-Life: Alyx seated. For more on difficulty options, how to adjust for motion sickness, how to play in one-handed mode, and more, see our full Half-Life: Alyx accessibility guide.

Enabling Seated Mode In SteamVR

Before you play Half-Life: Alyx, you'll need to go through SteamVR's room setup. One of the first thing it prompts you to select is to set up for Room-Scale or Standing Only. Don't let the wording mislead you!

The Room Setup window in SteamVR.
The Room Setup window in SteamVR.

The Room-Scale option still lets you play Standing and Seated in VR--you'll just choose that if you have at least a 6.5 x 5 feet space in your space to play. If not, select Standing Only, which also allows for Seated experiences in VR. It's also for people who have limited space to play, regardless of whether they're sitting or standing. Choose the one that works for you, but take note that you'll have to recalibrate your setup if you or someone else you share a VR station with will be switching between standing and seated play.

If you've set up VR before, you're probably already aware of what settings work for you. If not, you'll probably need to play around with room setup a few times to get things right. One step to note in particular is floor calibration.

Height calibration in SteamVR setup.
Height calibration in SteamVR setup.

If you're playing seated, one way to do it is to have the headset on your head and calibrate your seated height instead of the floor.

Once you load up the game, there are more options to help you play in seated mode.

Enabling Seated Options In Half-Life: Alyx

Once you're in Half-Life: Alyx, navigate to the accessibility options in the main menu screen. You can also access these options mid-game. You're looking for the Height Adjustment options, of which there are four. Find them listed below, along with their in-game descriptions:

  • Height Adjust: Crouch - Crouch action only. Stand is disabled. When the crouch action is enabled, toggle to quickly duck or adjust to a lowered position.

  • Height Adjust: Stand - Stand action only. Crouch is disabled. When the stand action is enabled, toggle to raise your position to help with reach. Recommended during seated play.

  • Height Adjust: Crouch And Stand - When the crouch and stand actions are enabled, use them to lower or to raise your position on two separate inputs.

  • Height Adjust: Hybrid - Hybrid uses a single input for both crouch and stand actions. To crouch, click to lower your position. To stand, press and hold to raise your position.

The in-game options note Height Adjust: Stand as the recommended option for seated play, but that will depend on how you calibrated your height and seated height in SteamVR setup. It may very well work for you, but another option to consider is Height Adjust: Crouch And Stand. This maps crouch to the left controller's joystick button and raised height to your right controller's joystick button. Press down on the joysticks to lower or raise your height in the game. You can rebind inputs in SteamVR settings as well.

Height Adjustment With Single-Controller Mode

Alyx's gravity gloves. It is possible to play Half-Life: Alyx with one hand.
Alyx's gravity gloves. It is possible to play Half-Life: Alyx with one hand.

If you're using single-controller mode, things may get tricky. We have not tested height adjustment options combined with single-controller mode yet, but we will update this guide if we learn more about how it works.

How Can I Turn In Seated Mode?

If you're worried about being able to turn or change directions when playing Half-Life: Alyx while seated, there's no need. The game offers two controller-bound turning options: snap turn (previously called quick turn before the latest update) and continuous turn.

Snap turn allows you to rotate your direction by a specific angle, which you can adjust in increments of 15 degrees, up to 90 degrees.

Continuous turn lets you turn your direction in one smooth, unbroken motion. You can adjust the speed of your turn between 1 to 100.

If you get dizzy easily in VR (or in general), continuous turn might not be the best choice for you, but it's good to experiment with both to see what works.

Other Tips For Playing Seated

If you're playing Half-Life: Alyx seated, you may have a more limited range of motion than players who play standing, but there are ways to hopefully improve your experience.

One thing you can do is experiment with different walk mode options, which you can learn more about in our more general accessibility guide. Learn the nuances of each one and find the one that best suits your own range of motion.

For instance, Half-Life: Alyx may require you to lean in and out of cover. The default Blink motion is great for people with motion sickness, but it also places more emphasis on your own body to execute some of the more precise in-game positioning. Using one of the continuous motion options will let you slide in and out of cover with just the controller. Again, this is something each individual player should experiment with in the early game, before encountering enemies.

Also, even though you're playing seated, you will still need some room around you to reach out with the controller. If you're playing at your desk, make sure to have some room between you and your actual desk--especially your monitor--to prevent any accidents!

Our final tip is about motion sickness. Some players report experiencing motion sickness in VR when playing seated, but not when standing up. If you're able to play standing and your primary concern is motion sickness, it's worth experimenting with seated vs. standing play. Everyone is different and VR affects everyone differently--it's all about making minor adjustments here and there until you're comfortable!

Read our full Half-Life: Alyx review, and check out some of our other guides, including weapons and upgrades, puzzles, and a roundup of Easter eggs and other easy-to-miss details.

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