Half Life 3 confirmed? No, not exactly. Shutting that rumor down straight off the bat. However, a new VR version is joining the Half Life Saga that will get you more excited than a head humper on a fresh scalp. It’s been what feels like forever, but if we were to put a number on it, it would be 12 years ago since the release of Half Life 2: Episode 2. Valve are teasing us with their newest game Half Life: Alyx; a VR version of the Half Life world that we know and love, with all the action, story-telling and puzzle physics galore. Here’s what else was uncovered from the trailer.
If you are somewhat of a Half Life nut job and know your head humpers to your combine soldier, then you will realize that this isn’t following within the normal timeline. The story for Half Life: Alyx takes place between Half Life and Half Life 2, sometime after the 7-hour war within the confines of City 17 on Earth. After their victory, the Combine menace began to construction a huge citadel, as well as enforce their own laws on the citizens within City 17. That’s where Alyx Vance comes in. Before Gordon Freeman arrives at City 17 sometime later around Half Life 2, right under the Combines rule are two of Earth’s most bad-ass scientists, Alyx Vance and her father Dr. Eli Vance. As the years pass, they do whatever they can to scramble a resistance against the Combine, finding ways to make their lives safer as well as taking the fight back to the enemy.
This seems to be the first time Valve have made a Half Life game that sits in as a prequel to the other Half Life 2 games, making it an interesting plot to see how things did fair for Alyx, Eli and the resistance before Gordon arrived to City 17.
A new edition to the Half Life saga, the VR experience is designed to provide more immersion and tension than ever before. Throughout the trailer, gameplay seems to look like a constant struggle for survival and a thrill ride, and it’s thanks to VR which allows it to be this way. Half Life 2 was always sort of a fun, tense, puzzle sandbox, FPS in its own right, but now with VR just brings those elements to a whole new level. We’re dying to see what components it brings, especially with the puzzle levels with the physics involved, because we know that Valve love to put physics brain teasers in their games, so expect no less with this one.
Half Life: Alyx can be played across a number of VR headsets, but is best optimised off of Valves own VR set up, called Valve Index. They say that it is the best way to get the most out of Half Life: Alyx, and furthermore the game is also free if you own Valve Index. That said the controllers and headset together are just under a whopping £700. Is spending that much on VR kit worth it? That’s another review for another time, I think.
The New and the Return of the Old
This will be the first time we will see the world of Half Life from a new perspective; playing as Alyx will give us a huge boost to personality and character after playing our mute hero for such a long time. The struggle of survival will be emphasized more through the eyes of someone who’s actually able to display emotion. There’s more character returns as well since we see the return of Eli Vance, and is quite central to the storyline, since he has been captured by the Combine. We also see a familiar, disturbing presence at the end of the trailer, G-Man; still shrouded in mystery.
But we also see some new faces to assist us along our journey, as well as new enemies, weapons and gadgets. One character that definitely stood out appeared to be an Australian resistance member that acts as a guide throughout your journey. Some of the weapons and equipment we see is Alyx’s familiar pistol and fingerless gloves, as well as a very neat looking single-handed shotgun, slickly reloaded and fired right into the face of a Combine soldier. We also see some familiar Gravity Gun mechanics but attached to Alyx’s gloves, being able to use telekinetic abilities to grab out of reach objects, and maybe perform a lot more than what they are showing us. Also notice there is 3 hearts on her left hand, suggesting a revamped health system in place more adapted for VR and to create more realism, since Alyx doesn’t have the hazard suit like Gordon did.
The game looks great. Even stronger more crisp visuals from the previous games, thanks to Valves new engine, Source 2. Obviously this will depend on what operating system you choose, but although it is the same world, with the new graphics it’s looking to be a whole new experience. I do have slight worries with the audio however. Not so much on the technical effects such as the classic Combine death sounds, footsteps and ambiance, I mean maybe a few sound effects could be introduced in terms of gunfire and explosions instead of recycling the old ones. For me, it’s mainly the voice acting. The new characters I don’t really have a problem with, it’s the previous characters, they don’t exactly sound the same, no matter how hard they try to replicate. Whether this can be justified as younger versions of the characters before the events of Half Life 2, I’m not sure. I just know that I’m not ready to accept the new voice acting quite yet.
Not Just a Story
I mentioned before the new Source 2 engine. Not only is it more powerful and capable of delivering much more superior graphics, but it also allows players to build and create their own levels, using a tool called Hammer. Hammer is an authoring tool, and although it wasn’t displayed in the trailer, it is definitely worth a mention. Like I said before, this tool allows players to create, customise and adapt their own levels to share and test with other players on the community.
Half Life: Alyx will be released in March 2020, and will be free to play if you own Valves own VR set up, Valve Index.