Half-Life: Alyx

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Half-Life: Alyx
Half-Life Alyx Cover Art.jpg
Developer(s)Valve
Publisher(s)Valve
Writer(s)
SeriesHalf-Life
EngineSource 2
Platform(s)Windows
ReleaseMarch 2020
Genre(s)First-person shooter
Mode(s)Single-player

Half-Life: Alyx is an upcoming virtual reality (VR) first-person shooter developed and published by Valve. It is the first game in the Half-Life series since Half-Life 2: Episode Two (2007), and takes place before Half-Life 2. Players control Alyx Vance as she and her father Eli fight the occupying alien Combine. Described by Valve as its "flagship" VR game, it was developed using the Source 2 engine and supports all PC-compatible VR headsets. It is scheduled for release on Windows in March 2020.

Premise[edit]

Half-Life: Alyx uses virtual reality (VR) gameplay. It supports all PC-compatible VR headsets, including the Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Oculus Quest and Windows Mixed Reality.[1] As the gameplay was designed around VR, Valve said they have no plans for a non-VR version.[1][2] Half-Life: Alyx will also support user mods via the Steam Workshop.[3]

The game takes place before the return of Gordon Freeman in Half-Life 2.[4] Players control Freeman's ally Alyx Vance as she and her father Eli Vance fight the Combine, an alien empire that has conquered Earth.[1] Designer David Speyrer said it was not an episodic game or side story, but "the next part of the Half-Life story", around the same length as Half-Life 2.[4] Players use VR to get supplies, use interfaces, throw objects, and engage in combat. Like the gravity gun from Half-Life 2, the gravity gloves allow players to manipulate gravity.[5] Traditional Half-Life elements such as exploration, puzzles, combat, and story return.[6]

Development[edit]

The previous Half-Life game, Episode Two, was released in 2007. From 2016–2017, three key writers for the Half-Life series, Marc Laidlaw, Erik Wolpaw, and Chet Faliszek, left Valve. Journalists took this, coupled with Valve's support for other games, as an indicator that new Half-Life games were no longer in development.[7] However, an insider claimed there had been many attempts to develop Half-Life projects since, all with different approaches, but that each project eventually faltered.[8]

In 2015, Valve began work with the electronics company HTC to develop the HTC Vive headset, released in June 2016. Valve began exploring the development of a major game for the unit.[2] They developed several prototypes, with at least three VR games in the works in 2017.[9][10] Deciding that the movement of a Portal game would be disorienting in VR, they settled on a Half-Life game.[2] VR gave the project focus as the gravity gun had for Half-Life 2.[2][5][11] Valve built prototypes using Half-Life 2 assets, and narrowed the gameplay systems down to those they felt best fit for VR.[2] The game entered full production in 2016, with designer Robin Walker stating that a proper Half-Life 3 was a "terrifyingly daunting prospect", with him and the team viewing VR as a way to return to the series.[12]

The team, comprising over 50 people, is the largest in Valve's history and includes Campo Santo, a studio Valve acquired in 2018.[6][2] The game was built in Valve's Source 2 engine.[13] The writers include Wolpaw, who rejoined Valve as a contractor, and Jay Pinkerton, who wrote Portal 2 with Wolpaw.[14][2] Alyx is voiced by Ozioma Akagha, replacing Merle Dandridge in the previous games, as Valve wanted a younger voice. While previous games had used silent protagonists, Valve found that having Alyx speak improved the storytelling.[15] Additional actors include James Moses Black as Eli, replacing Robert Guillaume who died in 2017, and Rhys Darby. Returning actors include Tony Todd (Vortigaunts), Mike Shapiro (the G-Man), and Ellen McLain (Combine broadcasts).[16] When asked about any more Half-Life games releasing after Alyx, designer David Speyrer stated that the team is willing, but would have to wait and see how people react to it first.[4]

Valve revealed Half-Life: Alyx in November 2019, with a release date set for March 2020.[17][18] The game is free to owners of any Valve Index hardware purchased by the end of 2019.[1]

Reception[edit]

The game's announcement trailer was watched over 10 million times within the first 24 hours of its release.[19] Fans have expressed everything from excitement at the news to disappointment over the fact that the game is only available in VR,[20] a still small but growing market in 2019. The Valve Index headset, controllers, and base stations all sold out in the United States and Canada within a week of the game's announcement.[21] Vic Hood of TechRadar said: "This certainly isn't the long-awaited Half-Life 3. However, it's nice to see Valve following through on a Half-Life project as the company has run hot and cold on whether we would ever see another entry in the series. But we forever live in hope for a Half-Life 3."[22] Kevin Webb of Business Insider wrote that Alyx could "spark fresh interest in an industry [VR] that has struggled to win over hardcore gamers".[23] Microsoft's Phil Spencer mentioned he played the game prior to its announcement, stating it was "amazing".[24]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Ingraham, Nathan (November 21, 2019), 'Half-Life: Alyx' is a VR prequel set before the events of 'Half-Life 2', engadget, archived from the original on November 22, 2019, retrieved November 21, 2019
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Keighley, Geoff (November 21, 2019). "The Final Hours of Half-Life: Alyx". Archived from the original on November 21, 2019. Retrieved November 21, 2019 – via Youtube.
  3. ^ Bailey, Dustin (November 21, 2019). "Half-Life: Alyx will have Steam Workshop support and a Source 2 level editor". PCGamesN. Archived from the original on November 23, 2019. Retrieved November 21, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c Hollister, Sean (November 21, 2019). "Half-Life: Alyx is officially coming March 2020, and here's your first look". The Verge. Archived from the original on November 21, 2019. Retrieved November 24, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Hollister, Sean (November 21, 2019). "Half-Life: Alyx is officially coming March 2020, and here's your first look". The Verge. Archived from the original on November 21, 2019. Retrieved November 21, 2019.
  6. ^ a b "12 big things we learned about Half-Life: Alyx". PC Gamer. November 21, 2019. Archived from the original on November 23, 2019.
  7. ^ Souppouris, Aaron (May 2, 2017). "Valve has no more 'Half-Life' writers left". Engadget. Archived from the original on August 29, 2017. Retrieved August 28, 2017.
  8. ^ "Whatever happened to Half-Life 3? The complete saga so far". PCGamesN. November 19, 2018. Archived from the original on January 17, 2019. Retrieved November 19, 2018.
  9. ^ Campbell, Colin (February 10, 2017). "Valve is working on three full VR games". Polygon. Archived from the original on March 2, 2017. Retrieved November 21, 2019.
  10. ^ Hollister, Sean. "Valve, of Half-Life and Portal, is making 3 full VR games". CNET. Archived from the original on March 10, 2018. Retrieved November 21, 2019.
  11. ^ Grayson, Nathan (November 19, 2019), The Internet Reacts To The Announcement Of A New Half-Life Game, Kotaku, archived from the original on November 20, 2019, retrieved November 21, 2019
  12. ^ "Whatever happened to Half-Life 3? The complete saga so far". PCGamesN. Archived from the original on October 21, 2019. Retrieved November 25, 2019.
  13. ^ Gerblick, Jordan (November 23, 2019). "Half-Life: Alyx: Everything we know about Valve's new VR-exclusive Half-Life game". GamesRadar+. Future plc. Archived from the original on December 3, 2019. Retrieved December 3, 2019.
  14. ^ Brown, Fraser (January 4, 2019). "Portal 2 writer Erik Wolpaw seems to have returned to Valve". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on November 12, 2019. Retrieved November 22, 2019.
  15. ^ MacGregor, Jody (November 21, 2019). "Alyx Vance will be voiced by a new actor in Half-Life: Alyx". PC Gamer. Retrieved November 21, 2019.
  16. ^ O'Connor, James. "Half-Life: Alyx Recasts Alyx, Eli, And Others, And Features Rhys Darby". GameSpot. Archived from the original on November 22, 2019. Retrieved November 22, 2019.
  17. ^ McWhertor, Michael (November 18, 2019). "Valve's Half-Life series continues with Half-Life: Alyx for VR". Polygon. Archived from the original on November 19, 2019. Retrieved November 21, 2019.
  18. ^ O'Connor, James (November 21, 2019), Half-Life: Alyx Reveal Happening Today, Gamespot, retrieved November 21, 2019
  19. ^ Lang, Ben. "With 10M Views in 24 Hours, 'Half-Life: Alyx' Has Thrust VR Into the Mainstream Gaming Spotlight". Road To VR. Retrieved November 27, 2019.
  20. ^ Stuart, Keith (November 19, 2019). "New Half-Life sequel likely to be high-end VR exclusive". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on November 27, 2019. Retrieved November 23, 2019.
  21. ^ James, Sarah. "Valve's Index VR headset sold out in stores following the Half-Life: Alyx reveal". PC Gamer. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  22. ^ Hood, Vic (November 21, 2019). "Half-Life: Alyx is anything but Half-Life 3". TechRadar. Archived from the original on November 23, 2019. Retrieved November 23, 2019.
  23. ^ Webb, Kevin (November 21, 2019). "One of the most beloved PC gaming series of all time just returned with a stunning trailer". Business Insider Nederland. Archived from the original on November 22, 2019. Retrieved November 23, 2019.
  24. ^ "Even Half-Life: Alyx wasn't enough to convince Xbox boss of console VR". www.theverge.com. Retrieved December 2, 2019.

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