Thirteen years after the unsatisfied itch of Half-Life 2‘s time-suspended cliffhanger ending, Valve is ready to officially announce the return of their treasured IP. No, it’s not Half-Life 3, but it is a “full-size” game. Half-Life: Alyx is set between the events of Half-Life and sequel Half-Life 2 and follows Alyx Vance and her father Eli as they cultivate the growing human resistance against the alien Combine’s occupation of Earth.
Valve’s new visit to the Half-Life universe is a VR-exclusive experience tailored to work with their flagship VR device, the Valve Index. Valve told The Verge that other PC-compatible VR headsets should be compatible with Half-Life: Alyx as well, reinforcing Valve’s “open PC platform” policy. Compatible hardware will include the Oculus Rift, Oculus Quest (with link cable), the HTC Vive, and the Windows Mixed Reality. However, there are no plans to translate this VR experience to traditional gaming platforms as Valve intends for their new endeavor to take full advantage of VR’s possibilities.
You can check out the official announcement trailer for Half-Life: Alyx below.
As the game’s subtitle suggests, the player takes on the role of Alyx Vance. She’s equipped with special “Gravity Gloves,” which allow her to manipulate gravitational forces to pull in pistols from a distance for combat and help her solve puzzles to advance the story.
It’s not a side story, nor an episodic one — it’s the next part of the Half-Life story, in a game around the same length as Half-Life 2.
The Verge was able to speak with David Speyrer, a programmer at Valve, and ask a few questions about the revival of the Half-Life IP. Responding to a question on the game’s narrative place and scope in the larger Half-Life saga, Spreyer says, “It’s not a side story, nor an episodic one — it’s the next part of the Half-Life story, in a game around the same length as Half-Life 2.”
Spreyer also recommends that even though Half-Life: Alyx takes place between the two main titles, players should take the time to play through Half-Life 2: Episode 2 “for reasons that will become clear as you progress.” On the future of the Half-Life series, Spreyer told The Verge that “[Valve will] have to wait and see how people react to Half-Life: Alyx once it’s out, but we’d love to continue pushing forward.”
VR has energized us. We’ve invested a lot of ourselves in the technology.
“Everyone at Valve is excited to be returning to the world of Half-Life”, says Valve founder Gabe Newell in the press release for Half-Life: Alyx. “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.”
In addition to the game’s release, Valve will also release Source 2 tools “allowing any player to build and contribute new environments for the community to enjoy.” Valve’s “level authoring tool” Hammer has been upgraded to function with Half-Life: Alyx‘s VR gameplay “tools and components.”
Half-Life: Alyx, Valve’s VR return voyage to the Half-Life universe, launches in March 2020. Preorders are available now for $59.99, and the game will be free to Valve Index owners.