Release Date: 23 Mar, 2020
Supported Headsets: Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Windows Mixed Reality
This is the big one. Many of us have been waiting for the Half-Life series to return since way back in 2007, when Half-Life Episode 2 released, but we never suspected it would be as a VR game. This isn’t Half-Life 3 though, it’s being billed as more of a side-story, fleshing out some of the events prior to Half-Life 2, told from the perspective of resistance fighter Alyx. Set before Alyx joined Gordon Freeman’s quest to deal with the outcome of an oppressive alien invasion in Half-Life 2, we’ll be participating in the founding of the human resistance, and taking the fight to the Combine forces.
Valve have obviously been a key player in the wave of VR technology that’s proliferated in recent years, with their Steam VR development platform aiding developers to implement support for a variety of VR headsets, their cutting edge (and in very limited supply) VR headset the Valve Index is pushing the high end VR experience further than any other currently commercially available headsets, and it feels like Half-Life Alyx is the next step on their path to driving customers towards VR experiences. There’s loads of great VR on Steam right now, but for many Alyx will be the first big showpiece VR game that is a must play. Much like Valve broke new ground in first person immersion and storytelling with the original Half-Life, and how Half-Life 2 pushed forward simulated physics in gameplay, players are hoping Half-Life Alyx will be the next big leap for VR gaming.
Footage they’ve shown so far looks really impressive, and shows off a host of smart uses of VR. There’s intricate interaction with environmental objects, where you’ll have to dig around in lockers for useful items, pick up all sorts of physical objects to use as makeshift shields, and pluck projectiles like grenades out of the air mid-flight. Using the gravity glove, prototype technology that will ultimately become the basis for the iconic Half-Life 2 gravity gun, you can pull items towards your hands to grab onto them. I can’t wait to see what different types of interactions will be supported.
Valve have never disappointed with any of their landmark first person games, whether it was the innovative experimental puzzle mechanics in the Portal series, coop and asymmetric multiplayer in Left 4 Dead, precise and brutally fast team based multiplayer in CounterStrike, or all the hats in Team Fortress. Fingers crossed that Half-Life Alyx hits the mark, and raises the bar for immersive first person VR games, and lives up to that legacy.
Will you be playing any of these games when they come out later this year? Are there any other upcoming VR titles you are looking forward to? Are there any genres or series that you’re hoping could find a home on VR? Let us know.