Valve’s rusted crowbar sits in the depths of their filing cabinets, longing to be held just one more time by the HEV-clad scientist turned hero, but it will have to wait another day, as instead, we’re being treated to a title all about one of the best side-characters in all of gaming – Alyx Vance.
Suit up, or rather slip-on that Black Mesa shirt and cosy jacket, as Valve has dropped a trailer for the VR-exclusive that is Half-Life: Alyx, a game all about the story of Vance prior to the events of the second instalment. Now, I know what some of you are saying (or sighing), “why is it a VR exclusive!? We’ve waited for ten years! Outrageous!” and, to put it bluntly – stop, we wouldn’t have a new Half-Life without VR.
In an interview, the devs revealed that Half-Life 3 was simply too daunting to make and so they set their sights on developing a VR experience and it was between this or a Portal game with the latter being far too nauseating, so thank VR for bringing us back to the Half-Life world – don’t shun it.
So, what did the trailer reveal? Well, we can clearly see that Valve is drawing a lot from the Half-Life 2 beta that got leaked and tweaked. It appears that all of these early prototypes for Combine soldiers, Striders and what-not are modelled on the originals, which makes sense as it means that they develop in the real world as well as the virtual world into the iconic designs we know and love.
We also get a brand new unnamed character but he looks like and serves the same purpose as the cut ‘Odell’ from the beta, who became ‘Odessa’ in the final release. He’s sort of like Wheatley from what we can see and he appears to be Alyx’s aid throughout this extravagant VR adventure.
What is also revealed is that Alyx’s father is being kidnapped yet again (or I guess not, because it’s a prequel? Confusing) – Eli Vance is in another castle.
It’s also evident that Half-Life: Alyx is set slightly after the events of the 7 Hour War as the Citadel is still under construction and there are no metrocops in sight, with the Combine soldiers policing the streets and raiding apartments in their stead.
Alyx and co. appear to be interested in some sort of vault, which is a gigantic floating Combine structure over City 17 and it’s absent in the events of Half-Life 2 so we can expect to blow it up or take it out in spectacular fashion.
There are also two new Headcrab variants, with one appearing to be a scorpion-like creature and another black with red spikes. There’s also the return of the classic, poison and fast variants along with far more variety in the hosts they latch onto.
If you played Half-Life 2, you’ll know that Alyx has a pretty cool gizmo for opening doors and what-not which is making a brilliant return with its own minigame feature. There are also gravity gloves which she wears that have the HUD elements on them and they can be used to pull objects into your hands, which she does when pickpocketing a Combine soldier from afar.
There’s no sign of Breen, Kleiner or Barney so far but we may see them yet. Alyx’s voice actor has been replaced, likely to sound younger, but its barely noticeable, and Eli’s too has been replaced as the voice actor, unfortunately, passed away.
The trailer ends with a menacing shot of G-Man who looks slightly less alien than he did in the previous two instalments but he’s still one creepy motherfucker.
All in all, we learned a lot from this trailer, and it is stunning. It is easily the best looking VR game and it is said to be a fully-fledged experience, to the same size as Half-Life 1 and 2, and it’s only £40 (before VR expenses, rest in peace my bank account). You can play it in March 2020 with any Steam compatible VR headset.
Last modified: 8th April 2020