The release date for Half-Life Alyx, Valve’s first big budget VR game, has been confirmed for 23rd March. Though Valve are clearly designing it with their own Valve Index headset in mind, it will also be compatible with HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Windows Mixed Reality.
— Valve (@valvesoftware) February 13, 2020
The game is set somewhere between Half-Life and Half-Life 2, so it’s not a continuation from the cliffhanger ending to Half-Life 2: Episode 2. It features Alyx Vance and her father Eli as they kickstart the resistance to the Combine’s occupation of Earth.
You play as Alyx through the narrative action adventure, with some stunning looking world interactions, puzzle solving, exploration and some realistic combat, where you can lean around combat, rummage through shelves for ammo, and more.
Built in the Source 2 engine, the graphics look incredible for a VR game – no doubt helped by being able to throw the resources of a gaming PC at it – and Valve look to be making full use of the Knuckles controllers of the Valve Index, with finger tracking on show at multiple points in the trailer. However, the game is compatible with all PC VR systems, resorting back to grip and trigger buttons on Vive, Rift and WMR. You can play room scale, sitting or standing, you have teleport, shift and full analogue motion, and so on.
So desired is a new Half-Life game, and so highly anticipated is Valve’s return to AAA game development, that Valve Index headset quickly became back-ordered after the game’s announcement as the company struggled to keep up with demand. Still, with Half-Life Alyx alongside the release of other immersive VR titles like Boneworks and The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners, there’s been a definite uptick in PC VR headset sales, as tracked by the Steam Hardware surveys. There 1.4% of surveyed Steam users own a headset, with .23% jump since December 2019, almost half of which is attributable to Oculus Rift S sales. Depending on how many users actually take part in the surveys, you can estimate the number of SteamVR compatible headsets in use to be around 1.2-2 million. Of course, that’s lagging quite a way behind PSVR, but good for the adoption of VR as a whole.
Half-Life Alyx will be free to anyone who has a Valve Index, regardless of when you buy one, but anyone who did so before the end of 2019 got the following additional bonuses:
- Explore environments from Half-Life: Alyx in your SteamVR Home space
- Alternate gun skins to embellish Alyx’s arsenal
- Special Half-Life: Alyx-themed content for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
It looks truly impressive, and I can’t wait to see more.