In 2007, Half-Life 2: Episode Two had just been released as the newest entry to the universally-acclaimed first-person shooter franchise, Half-Life by Valve. Episode Two was to be the mid-point of the Half-Life 2 episodes, soon followed by Episode Three. However, it famously never came. The wait for any information concerning the next game would take months. Months then turned to years. After a decade of waiting, it became increasingly clear to fans that they may never see another Half-Life game.
However, that would change. This November, Valve announced their flagship virtual reality game: Half-Life: Alyx. For the first time in twelve years, Valve released a trailer for a Half-Life game, along with a new website, Steam store page and tons of information.
Half-Life: Alyx is a VR-only game where you literally take the hands of Alyx Vance, the protagonist’s sidekick from the previous games. The game is a prequel, set to take place between the events of Half-Life 1 and 2. Valve rehired some of their best writers to get the story up to Half-Life standards. On top of that, they have been communicating with the franchise’s ex-lead writer, Mark Laidlaw, to keep the lore intact.
The game is compatible with most VR headsets, the only condition being that the headset must have hand-tracked controllers. That being said, Half-Life: Alyx is designed with the Valve Index in mind, Valve’s own top of the line headset. Because of this, the game supports cutting-edge features such as finger tracking and room-scale VR, wherein you can physically walk around the game world. If you’re not up for walking, or you want a cheaper VR setup, the game also supports just standing and sitting VR.
Of course VR is very hardware intensive. Most people (including me) will have to upgrade their computers if they want to be able to play Half-Life: Alyx. According to the system requirements, the game will run on the SteamVR platform, require Windows 10 and a Core i5-7500 or Ryzen 5 1600 processor, and need at least 12 GB RAM as well as an Nvidia GTX 1060 or AMD RX 580 graphics card to generate the VR experience.
As for the gameplay itself, it will most likely be fundamentally the same as previous games where you have a set linear path, health and ammo that you must replenish by scavenging for supplies, and a variety of weapons to choose from. The only difference is that you will be doing all of this in virtual reality. You no longer check your health by glancing at a HUD on your monitor; you have to physically look down at an indicator on Alyx’s gloves. You don’t point and shoot with a mouse and keyboard; you aim using the hand-tracked controllers. You cannot pick up objects by just pressing E; you have to reach over and grab them. The game offers around 12-15 hours of gameplay, making it one of the first full-length VR exclusive games ever made.
Perhaps the best part of this whole event is getting to see all of Tyler McVicker’s theories confirmed. Tyler McVicker is an independent gaming journalist who runs the YouTube channel Valve News Network. He was the first journalist to pick up on this game way back in 2016. For the past four years he’s talked about nearly all information he could get on the game, either through leaks or insider information. Almost none of the Valve fan community took him seriously until now, and he couldn’t be happier.
The game itself is $59.99 on Steam, but is 10% off if pre-ordered. You can also get the game for free if you buy an Index headset or Index Controllers before the end of 2019.