Infants have long known the joys of shaking a bottle to watch its contents slosh and bubble, and now Half-Life: Alyx players can experience that joy too. Valve last night updated the VR explore-o-shooter with fancy new mock bottle fluids, and even as someone whose body wholly rejects VR I am captivated watching players play with bottles of booze. It's like a real beer, but it's not even there! Our Katharine hit the bar to shake and spin bottles like a virtual Tom Cruise, and enjoy what is perhaps the closest any of us can get to a quiet drink in the pub. Come watch!
That is nice, isn't it. Clever little bit of maths to satisfying effect. I'd be pleased by the touch by in any FPS but especially in VR, where discovering that mundane objects act like they would in the real world is somehow a thrill.
"Spent a good chunk of lock-down doing this important work," Valve visual effects developer Matthew Wilde proudly declared on Twitter after the update launched. I agree, it is important. Alyx isn't the first game to do this but: it is very nice.
Update 1.4 brought a few other changes. Alyx's new mod support is bolstered with access to the Postprocessing Editor, some example maps, and more technobits for modders to fiddle with. Subtitles are in for Brazilian, Czech, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese. And some bugs are fixed. See the 1.4 patch notes for everything.
Graham's Half-Life: Alyx review declares it "is the Half-Life game you've been waiting for, even if it's not the one you were expecting – and even if you'll never play it."
If you will never play it, you might appreciate watching this commentary-free playthrough. Valve designer Jake Rodkin pointed out this one by "Luiso Longplays" the other day. He highlighted it for being clean to watch thanks to playing with full motion smoothing, as well as for catching some nice little moments. Most of the Alyx vids I've seen have been too chatty or too rough and yeah, this is good.