The Oculus Quest 2 is an excellent VR headset. Starting at $299.99, the standalone helmet offers a slew of immersive experiences that don’t require you to be tethered to a PC. However, you’ll still need to plug in to play powerful games like Half-Life: Alyx, limiting your movement.
That is, unless, you get crafty. Quest 2 owners have found a clever workaround to get any VR game working wirelessly on the headset. Inverse tested the method out on a Quest 2 and were able to get Half-Life: Alyx running on it without issues. All that stands between players and wireless freedom is a good PC, a USB-C cable, and a couple of apps. Here’s how to play Half-Life: Alyx, and any other VR game, wirelessly on the Oculus Quest 2.
1. Download or purchase all of the following
For starters, you’ll need to download a few things to get this working. For one, make sure your PC can actually run Half-Life: Alyx. You don’t want to get all the way through setting this up just to realize your specs aren’t good enough. You’ll be running games like this off your PC, not your Quest 2. Stable wi-fi is also a must here since that’s how you’ll be communicating with your PC through the headset.
You’ll need to make sure you have a way to plug your Quest into your computer as well. If you have an Oculus Link, use that. Otherwise, any USB-C will do. We used the DualSense charging wire that comes with the PlayStation 5, so there’s no need to shell out for a Link if you have something else on hand.
Next, you’ll need to download a few apps. For starters, you’ll need to buy the Virtual Desktop app from the Oculus Store, which costs $20. This will enable you to access your computer through your headset when plugged in via USB-C or Oculus Link. Then, you’ll need to download the free Virtual Desktop streamer app, the Oculus PC app, and a program called SideQuest on your PC. You’ll also need the Oculus app on your phone and the SteamVR app on Steam, both of which are free.
Finally, make sure to sign in to your Oculus account in the Oculus PC and phone apps, as well as the Virtual Desktop streamer app. Here’s a quick checklist of everything you need before you move on to the next step:
- A capable PC
- USB-C cable or Oculus Link
- Oculus PC app (PC)
- Virtual Desktop (Oculus Store)
- Virtual Desktop Streamer (PC)
- Oculus app (Phone)
- SteamVR (Steam)
- SideQuest (PC)
2. Enable Developer Mode
To get started, you’ll need to set your Oculus account to Developer Mode. Turn your Quest 2 on and open the Oculus app on your phone. Open the settings menu in the app and you should see your headset as an option at the top. Click on that and tap More Settings. From there, you’ll see a Developer Mode option that you can click. Simply toggle Developer Mode on and you’re done with the Oculus app here.
3. Download the Virtual Desktop plugin from SideQuest
Now, you’ll need to “sideload” a program into your Quest 2, which is much easier than it sounds. Link your Quest to your PC via USB-C or Oculus Link and open the SideQuest app. If your headset is properly connected, you should see a green light in the top corner of the app, which confirms that it’s able to communicate with your Quest 2.
Once you’re in the app, search for Virtual Desktop. Click into the app page and you should see a button that says Install to Headset. Essentially this app updates Virtual Desktop to allow you to stream games from your PC, rather than just connect to it. Once that’s installed, you’ll be able to access your desktop through VR without being connected to it.
4. Connect to your PC
If everything’s installed correctly, you’re home free at this point. Turn on your Oculus Quest 2, unplugged from your PC, and open the Virtual Desktop app. If the Virtual Desktop streamer app is running on your PC, you should go straight to a menu that prompts you to connect to a PC. Choose your computer and once it connects, you should see exactly what’s on your computer screen through your Quest 2.
Finally, you’ll need to make sure that SteamVR is running if you want to play Steam games like Half-Life: Alyx. Simply search for it in your library and turn it on. If you open up Half-Life: Alyx, you should be able to play wirelessly in full VR.
Note that this isn’t an official solution made by Oculus itself, so there can be a little trial and error at times. I usually had to fiddle with the apps a little to get them to work or relaunch Steam games to get them to properly appear in VR, rather than as a flat screen. It’s also not a perfect experience considering that you’re at the mercy of wi-fi. However, I was able to play Half-Life: Alyx start to finish on the Quest 2 without wires and with very minimal hiccups.
Half-Life: Alyx is especially fun as a wireless experience, as the extra range of motion allows you to duck behind cover and pop out without tripping up over a wire. Give it a try if you’re feeling adventurous with your headset.
Read More: Oculus Quest 2 is VR's big moment