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Half-Life: Alyx is a VR prequel to HL2, coming in March 2020

Valve today formally announced Half-Life: Alyx, a “full-length” game exclusively for VR. Half-Life is returning after 12 years, though Gordon Freeman seemingly is not and this isn’t Half-Life 3. Set between the events of Half-Life and Half-Life 2, this one stars future sidekick Alyx Vance in the years before Gordo’s return when she and her dad were building the resistance. And yes, this really is only for VR. Come watch the announcement trailer.

I don’t even enjoy VR (and can’t afford my own kit) but that’s pretty chuffing cool alright.

Valve claim Half-Life: Alyx “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.” I had not expected to see Eli Vance again so great, go on, punch me square in the heart, you monsters.

“Everyone at Valve is excited to be returning to the world of Half-Life,” Valve founder Gabe Newell said in today’s announcement. “VR has energised 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.”

Important: this screenshot’s filename referred to Alyx’s handy gadgets as GRAVITY GLOVES. That is a good name.

The game will also support new levels made by players in Hammer, Valve’s level editor. They say it’s coming “updated with all of the game’s virtual reality gameplay tools and components.”

Valve animator Christine Phelan told us in an interview that “It’s very difficult to imagine Half-Life: Alyx in a non-VR form.” Going from jacking in with cybergoggles and virtuahands to sitting before a monitor with a keyboard and mouse would, she said, “require such extensive redevelopment, and would require discarding so many of its unique elements, that for all intents and purposes it would be an entirely different game.” Which makes sense. A game is more than a series of events, no matter how much you’d like to hear the story.

Half-Life: Alyx is coming to “all PC-based VR headsets” via Steam in March 2020. It will cost £46.49/€49.99/$60 but folks who own Valve Index cybergoggles will get it for free.

See our interview, the 4K screenshots, and the game’s site for more.

The Game Awards, the craven advertising space which aches to be taken seriously, will be showing more of Half-Life: Alyx on December 12th. For now, host Geoff Keighley has a video chat with Valve.

Disclosure: I have a pal or two at Valve, though I’ve no idea what they’re working on these days.

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Alice O'Connor

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When not writing news, Alice may be found in the sea.

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