I have seven screenshots and a press release from Valve sitting in front of me.I’ve had two days to process this. But I’m still in disbelief. Thirteen years after the most infamous cliffhanger in video game history,Half-Lifeis finally coming back in March 2020 – as a VR game calledHalf-Life: Alyx.
Valve tells us it’s a VR-exclusive. And it’s a prequel of sorts, set betweenHalf-LifeandHalf-Life 2, in the days when Alyx Vance and her father Eli are building the resistance to the Combine’s alien occupation of Earth. You’ll play Alyx, and you’ll be wielding a way to manipulate gravity once more: the “Gravity Gloves,” which we can see Alyx using to pick up a pistol from a distance and interact with puzzles in the game’s first trailer – which you’ll find a little ways below.
Here’s Valve’s description of the kind of gameplay you should expect:
Lean to aim around a broken wall and under a Barnacle to make an impossible shot. Rummage through shelves to find a healing syringe and some shotgun shells. Manipulate tools to hack alien interfaces. Toss a bottle through a window to distract an enemy. Rip a Headcrab off your face and throw it at a Combine soldier.
But if all these things make you think it’s just going to be another glorified tech demo for VR, youmightwant to read Valve programmer David Speyrer’s answers to a few questions we asked:
(1)“It’s not a side story, nor an episodic one – it’s the next part of theHalf-Lifestory, in a game around the same length asHalf-Life 2. ”
2)“While it does take place before the events ofHalf-Life 2, we actually recommend that you play throughHalf-Life 2: Episode 2before you playHalf-Life: Alyx, for reasons that will become clear as you progress. ”
(3)“Of course, we’ll have to wait and see how people react toHalf-Life: Alyxonce it’s out, but we’d love to continue pushing forward. ”
Not a tech demo. Not necessarilyjusta prequel. And even if not in March, it sounds like there’s a chance usHalf-Lifefans will finally get some closure.
Here’s the trailer:
Fifteen years ago,Half-Life 2ended with a bang. One of the all-time greatest video game cliffhangers, it literally stopped time in the middle of an explosion, praised you for your work, then let the credits roll. In retrospect, it wasn’t so bad: we got to pick up right where we left a mere 18 .5 months later withHalf-Life 2: Episode 1.
But we couldn’t say the same in 2007 whenHalf-Life 2: Episode 2ended in tears – and then 12 years passed without Valve giving any indication we’d ever find out what happened to Gordon Freeman and Alyx.
Valve says you ‘ ll need a VR headset to play, becauseHalf-Life: Alyxis expressly designed for virtual reality. It won’t be coming to flat screens and traditional controls. But intriguingly, you won’t need to buy the company’s ownValve Index– the company tells us the Oculus Rift,the Oculus Quest with the new Link cable, the HTC Vive, even Windows Mixed Reality headsets should work.
Between nostalgia and the need for closure, I wonder if this is the moment a few million extra gamers buy into VR.
Valve says you’ll be able to play it sitting or standingwith three different VR movement styles– the teleport mechanic where you aim a wand where you’d like to go, then appear there, an analog stick, or a “shift” mechanic that sounds intriguing.
VR was built for the kind of gameplay that sits at the heart of Half-Life, and Half-Life: Alyx was built from the ground up for VR. You’ll be able to play it on any SteamVR compatible system.
– Valve (@valvesoftware) (November) ,
Also, Valve says the game – built on its new Source 2 engine – will provide a set of tools for anyone to build their own new levels for the game. “Hammer, Valve’s level authoring tool, has been updated with all of the game’s virtual reality gameplay tools and components,” the company writes.
While you may wind up needing a pretty beefy PC to play the game at its best, the minimum system requirements Valve is listing aren’tthathigh: a Windows 10 computer with a Core i5 – 7500 or Ryzen 5 1600 or better, with a GTX 1060 or RX 580 graphics card or better. Those are high-end partsifyou haven’t upgraded in a few years. You’ll need 12 GB of RAM, though, which may be an upgrade for many gamers who were told 8GB was enough.
Half-Life: Alyxisavailable for preorder todayfor $ 53. 99 (normally $ 59. 99; it’s on sale)or freeto Valve Index owners. Valve is also offering some special bonuses (gun skins, Steam VR environments) to those who purchase Valve Index hardware by the end of the year.
If you’re anything like me, you won’t rest until you’ve consumed every scrap of information, so here’s exactly what Valve’s David Speyrer told us, as well as Valve’s official press release below.
Is this a continuation of the events ofHalf-Life 2: Episode 2? Is this a full story on par with a majorHalf-Lifetitle or is it episodic?
Half-Life: Alyxis set in the aftermath of the Combine invasion of Earth, before the return of Gordon Freeman inHalf-Life 2. While it does take place before the events ofHalf-Life 2, we actually recommend that you play throughHalf-Life 2 : Episode 2before you playHalf-Life: Alyx, for reasons that will become clear as you progress. It’s not a side story, nor an episodic one – it’s the next part of theHalf-Lifestory, in a game around the same length asHalf-Life 2.
Does this mark a full return to the series? Should we expect more?
Yes. It’s probably no surprise that many people at Valve have been wanting to get back to theHalf-Lifeuniverse for a long time, and this experience has only reinforced that . In the process of creatingHalf-Life: Alyx, we’ve had to explore new ways to tell stories with these characters and this world, and we’ve discovered a lot of new gameplay experiences that go beyond what we’ve been able to do before. Of course, we’ll have to wait and see how people react toHalf-Life: Alyxonce it’s out, but we’d love to continue pushing forward .
Will(Half-Life)‘s return be exclusive to VR? To Steam VR? To Valve Index?
Half-Life: Alyxis exclusive to VR, but not to Valve Index. We continue to believe strongly in the open PC platform, and it is our intention thatHalf-Life: Alyxis playable on any VR headset that connects to a gaming PC capable of running the game. If you have an HTC Vive, an Oculus Rift (or Quest with the Link cable), a Windows Mixed Reality headset – just to name a few – you can playHalf-Life: Alyx. We put a lot of effort into making Valve Index the highest-fidelity VR solution on the market, and we think it’s a great way to play the game, but it’s absolutely not required.
VALVE ANNOUNCES HALF-LIFE: ALYX, A FULL-LENGTH VR ENTRY IN THE AWARD WINNING SERIES
Now Available for Pre-purchase, Slated for March 2020 Launch
(November) , 2019 – Valve, the creators of Half-Life and the Steam platform, today announced Half-Life: Alyx, a new, full-length virtual reality entry in the Half-Life series. Slated for release on Steam in March 2020, the title will be compatible with all PC-based VR headsets in March 2020.
Set between the events of Half-Life and Half-Life 2, Alyx Vance and her father Eli secretly mount the resistance to the brutal occupation of Earth by a mysterious alien race known as The Combine. As Alyx, players take the fight to the Combine to save the future of humanity.
Half-Life: Alyx was designed from the ground up for Virtual Reality and features all of the hallmarks of a classic Half-Life game: world exploration, puzzle solving, visceral combat, and an intricately woven story that connects it all with the characters iconic to the Half-Life universe.
“Everyone at Valve is excited to be returning to the world of Half-Life”, says Valve founder Gabe Newell. “VR has energized us. We’ve invested a lot of ourselves in the technology. But we’re also game developers at heart, and to be devoting ourselves to a VR game this ambitious is just as exciting. For that to come in the form of Half-Life feels like the culmination of a lot things we care a lot about: truly great games, cutting edge technology, and open platforms. We can’t wait for people to experience this. ”
Half-Life: Alyx is powered by SteamVR on Valve’s Source 2 engine, and can be played on Steam with all PC-based VR headsets.
Pre-purchase now for $ 59. 99 (US). Free for owners of the Valve Index VR headset.
If you want even more inside information – like howPortal 2writers Erik Wolpaw and Jay Pinkerton are involved, and why it won’t be available for flat screens – game journalist Geoff Keighleyhas shared 22 minutesof a roundtable interview with the team.
Update, 1: 53 PM ET:With additional details from Valve’s websites.