THE PCG Q&A
Find all previous editions of the PCG Q&A here. Some highlights:
- What game did you love at the time but find hard to go back to?
- What's the best prison escape in a game?
- Has a game ever made you rethink your moral code?
A new Half-Life game? That's an exciting announcement. People have been waiting 12 years for this, which in videogame terms as in dog years, feels like much longer. But a VR-exclusive Half-Life game? Ah. That cools the excitement nodules a little bit.
Virtual reality may have won over the futurists and early adopters, but there are plenty of others who feel like the technology isn't quite there yet. VR enthusiasts are convinced that everything's fine the way it is, which is an odd position to take when you're advocating for the future, but the doubters have plenty of reasons to be concerned. Whether that's because of the price, the discomfort, the shaky virtual hands and lack of arm-tracking, or the fact it makes them sweat and vomit, there are clearly still hurdles for VR to clear.
Is the promise of a new Half-Life game enough to make you look past those issues? Has the announcement of Half: Alyx made you want to buy a VR headset if you don't have one already? Let us know.
Well I already have a Vive Pro but it's definitely making me want a Valve Index. Actually, this new video of VR shooter Boneworks in action is making me want an Index even more than Half-Life: Alyx is—which really demonstrates the benefit of showing footage of someone using VR and not just showing gameplay footage in a trailer. I really love the idea of the Index knuckle controllers keeping track of all your fingers and I'd love to play both Alyx and Boneworks with an Index. (Also, Boneworks renders your character's arms and body, which I am obviously in favor of.)
Yeah. Yeah, it is. I have an older Oculus, but I want to see the new Half-Life in the best way possible. I'm eyeballing a $1000 toy that I barely have room for and won't use very often otherwise. But I feel like snagging an Index, the nicest headset on the market now, will at least keep me in the ballgame for a while. Whenever the next big VR game hits, I'll probably be ready. In the meantime, it'll be The Beat Saber Machine.
I might be one of the few people on the team who doesn't own a VR headset and while I would love to jump in and play Alyx, I just can't stomach that cost right now. I tend to be more of an impulse buyer, though, so once it actually releases and assuming it lives up to the hype, I might be in a far more vulnerable position. But right now, I'm happy knowing that it exists and that people will probably enjoy the heck out of it. But Alyx doesn't fix the problem that VR feels like a dead platform to me and I'm not about to drop a grand on something that'll just end up sitting in my closet in a year's time.
Honestly, If EVE: Valkyrie and Mechwarrior 5 can't get me to invest in a VR headset then I'm already a lost cause. Both of those games are some of the best applications of VR and neither of them convinced me to purchase a headset of my own. VR is certainly grown by leaps and bounds in recent years and is definitely in the right direction, but it still hasn't achieved parity with most user's hardware. Until we can make VR supremely accessible and a little less cumbersome, we won't have that carts and horses scenario that will transform VR from an option to a necessity.
I really want to play this game, but my lack of a VR headset isn't the only issue—I get motion sick easily when playing in VR. But I've had better luck with the HTC Vive then the Oculus, which makes me sick 100% of the time. (I've never tried a Valve Index, so no idea if that will make me sick or not.) So maybe I'll drop some cash on a Vive just to play Alyx? But looking at VR headset prices... well, I don't need both my kidneys, do I?
I'm gonna be the real negative nancy here and say that I do have a VR headset, and I'm not especially excited about playing Half-Life: Alyx. I know, I know, hundreds of dollars of hardware, gone to waste! The truth is, I've just never been that much of a Half-Life fan. I disliked driving the vehicles in Half-Life 2, which was about a third of the game. And I don't think most of Valve's guns feel especially good to shoot; they're just not punchy. There were some amazing moments in there for sure, based around the Gravity Gun, and Left 4 Dead 2 and both Portals are all-timers. But Half-Life, eh. I am unmoved.
I'm sure Alyx will be a really strong VR experience, and I'm happy to see more big games take advantage of the medium. I'm happy for everyone who's wanted more Half-Life for 15 years. If you don't have a VR headset, I'll at least do you the courtesy of not rambling on about how awesome it is.
It does, surprisingly. I'm no Half-Life super fan, but the Alyx trailer is amazing. I was already considering grabbing an Oculus Quest because of its convenience, but Half-Life: Alyx and Boneworks make higher-end headsets look very appealing. If I were in the position to burn $1000 on a lavish piece of tech, the Index would be top of the list. Though, I'm not comfortable with the state of VR games. They're novel, but seemingly forgettable. I don't want my headset to collect dust because there's only something worthwhile every eight months. I'm not confident that one great Valve game will be VR's second wind. Maybe I'll reconsider if they #GiveAlyxArms.
If I could go back in time to the empty studio apartment I played Half-Life 2 in (I had a PC on the floor, a bed, and a stereo) and hand my past self a modern PC and a Valve Index, he'd shit his pants. Today, I'm somewhat with Wes. A mysterious guy in a suit—see also Mass Effect's Illusive Man—doesn't send chills down my spine like it did when Half-Life 2 was the pinnacle of PC gaming. That said, the way the trailer shows a player peeking around corners and rifling through shelves did get me a little excited. One of the stupidest things about VR is that it's the little things that are the coolest: interacting naturally with all the objects you used to interact with by pressing a key. My big concern is that I'll get burned out and never finish it, but I'll give Half-Life: Alyx a try and probably won't do it on my old Oculus Rift. PC Gamer has a Valve Index, but if I'm not the one borrowing it when Alyx releases, I may start eyeing my credit card against my better judgment.
Hard no. I expect Half-Life: Alyx to be a tremendous letdown—a shiny new paint job slapped over the same old push-and-fiddle VR guffola—but even if it somehow manages to transcend the inherent limitations of the hardware (and it won't) and rekindle the magic of a shooter that's almost old enough to drive, do I really want to play through an entire 15-hour game with a brick strapped to my face? I do not.
I'm curious, yes, and open to the very remote possibility that maybe Valve will come across with the goods. But even if it does (and it won't), what happens when it's over? What do I do with all this swanky VR kit that I've just blown a couple of car payments on? Because I'm not hearing much about other, comparably compelling VR games right now. So am I really going to drop that kind of coin on what is effectively one single game, no matter how good it might be? Yeah, no. Noooooo. Not a chance.
JAMES: OK nevermind, Andy's answer knocked some sense into me.
JOANNA: Andy's right; I don't need to sell a kidney.
I've had a chance to try multiple VR headsets over the past several years, and while I don't get motion sick like Joanna, I also don't enjoy having a brick with wires coming out of it sitting on my head. Wires totally ruin the VR experience, which is already suspect. Every time I give VR a shot, it feels like a cool tech demo that's only worth 15 minutes of my time. Then I want to rip the headset off and go back to my regular screen, mouse, and keyboard.
The idea of VR sounds awesome, but the implementation and requirements—both in terms of PC hardware and roaming space—are like a wet fart in a crowded elevator. It doesn't help that we've already been through multiple iterations of the various headsets, each making earlier models outdated. Even if I had $1,000 to spend on the Valve Index (I don't), I'm not forking it over for niche hardware -- not even for Half-Life.