It has often been said that the best things come to those who wait. It seems as if the developers of Half-Life have taken this expression quite literally considering the fact that it has been more than 13 years since a sequel to this revolutionary franchise has been released. The good news is that our patience has finally paid off. The introduction of Half-Life Alyx has already been touted as being a truly groundbreaking VR experience, and those who are lucky enough to play this are in for something special.
All that we've come to expect, and more.
There is no doubt that the bar was set ridiculously high for Valve, due to the immense popularity of Half-Life 2, the episodes that followed, and the cliffhanger the entire series was left on for the last decade.
Thankfully they've delivered completely. Players can expect the same immersive digital environments, masterful storytelling and second-to-none set-piece design, done in such a way where it's impossible to imagine it outside of a VR environment. Half-Life was always about taking that additional step and doing something groundbreaking, hence the gravity gun in the previous encounter. Throwing items around and chucking saws at headcrab zombies in Ravenholm was just brilliant, and it's obvious Valve have been waiting for that chance to make the next Half-Life something special by going that step further and making it a showcase for new technology. VR was the perfect opportunity.
It's also evident this has been designed to completely showcase the Valve Index and all its individual finger tracking technology, with the game making full use of it, even being able to detect pressure and squeezes. With the right hardware, guaranteed you'll be playing around just picking up cans and crushing them long before you any meaningful progress in the game's gripping storyline.
This only gets even better as time goes on, with the game acting as a perfect physics-based playground. Holding onto a barrel? Chuck it at a zombie and shoot it. Headcrab about to jump at you? Smack it away. It's intuitive, and it's unlike anything we've witnessed in VR so far.
One thing that's definitely changed with Half-Life Alyx - It's legitimately terrifying. There was always a certain element of fear in the previous games (we've already mentioned Ravenholm!), but this is something else altogether, evident right from the start with a strider climbing right over you.
The environmental work is absolutely perfect as you'd expect, and with the immersion that comes from having a screen strapped to your eyes with no outside vision, they waste no time putting you in darkened corridors with limited ammo and a ton of headcrab zombies. Definitely not for the faint of heart, but a much better and gripping game for it.
Doing Away with the Confusion
The interface has been completely redone, with some very interesting quirks. Gone is the HUD (to you the player at least), replaced with a visible ammo counter on your weapon clips, and a neat little gadget attached to your arm showing you your life, and other little bits of information.
The game includes a 'Streamer' view however - On your secondary display, the HUD remains, giving people who are watching you clear visibility of your life, ammo and upgrades. It's obviously been designed with streaming in mind, with Valve completely aware of the amount of people that quite simply won't get to play the game quite yet, and the amount of people without a VR Ready PC.
With that said, there's no better time than now to build one. With the hardware mature enough to make VR an incredibly immersive experience, and with the games catalog substantial enough to make the purchase worth it, all that's left is to get it built; something we happen to excel at. Take a look through our Gaming PCs, and we'll build one to your exact specification, so you can get your Vive, Index or Rift, and dive into the best VR experience going.
Valve still can't count to 3, though...