November 21, 2019 – Valve has today unveiled the full details of its new virtual reality FPS game, Half-Life: Alyx. Earlier in the week, the company teased the existence of the game, and fans of the franchise have been eagerly awaiting the full breakdown of this first installment of three flagship VR games from Valve.
Half-Life: Alyx is Valve’s return to the Half-Life series, only this time in VR. The story is set between the events of Half-Life and Half-Life 2, and will immerse players in deep environmental interactions, puzzle solving, world exploration, and combat, as they play through as the character Alyx Vance.
What is notable about Half-Life: Alyx compared to the rest of the games in the franchise – apart from the fact that this is the first official VR title from Valve (although there are mods that exist that allow players to play the first Half-Life game in VR) – is the fact that there will not be a ‘flat-screen’ version of this game, and the experience will only exist for gamers in VR.
When asked on the reasoning behind this choice during an interview with The Game Awards, Valve’s Dario Casali commented: “We would love to be delivering a version of this that you could play with a mouse and a keyboard, but… it began as an exploration of VR, and the more we used the controllers and the headset, we realized the amount of interactions this gives, the amount of possibilities these things give us, the more we explored it and the more we realized that there’s so much opportunity that we can’t really translate back to the keyboard.” He added, “When you put that into game mechanics, the kinds of interactions that we can do now, we couldn’t possibly do with a mouse and keyboard.”
Casali commented further: “The more we explored those mechanics, the more we realized that in order for us to deliver a keyboard and mouse experience, we’d have to ship a game that’s missing a lot of those interactions, and they were playtesting so well that we didn’t feel like that was a good idea.”
Valve itself said in a tweet today: “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.”
This means that the game, which has been built purely with VR in mind, will be available to owners of Oculus Rift, Oculus Quest (if connected to a PC with through Oculus Link), HTC Vive, Windows Mixed Reality headset, and of course, Valve’s own Index VR headset, owners of which will also receive the game for free. Furthermore, customers who have purchased Valve Index hardware by the end of 2019 will have access to unique bonuses starting early next year, including:
- The ability to explore environments from Half-Life: Alyx in their SteamVR Home space
- Alternate gun skins to embellish Alyx’s arsenal
- Special Half-Life: Alyx-themed content for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
The game has a release date set of March 2020, and will retail for USD $60, with Valve currently offering a 10% discount for pre-sale purchases (at the time of publication).
Video credit: Valve/YouTube