After teasing it earlier this week, Valve has now unveiled Half-Life: Alyx, a VR romp set between the events of Half-Life and Half-Life 2, when Alyx and her dad, Eli Vance, form the resistance to defend the planet against the alien Combine forces.
Though a VR exclusive, Valve says it will otherwise be a full-featured and full-length Half-Life game with exploration, combat, puzzles, and a new story, even if it's not one that moves the stalled saga forward. According to Valve designer Greg Coomer, it's taken playtesters as long to finish Half-Life: Alyx as it does to complete Half-Life 2, though it could be longer depending on how much exploring and mucking around you do. Half-Life 2 takes around 15 hours to complete.
Gabe Newell says VR has "energized" Valve. "We’ve invested a lot of ourselves in the technology. But we're also game developers at heart, and to be devoting ourselves to a VR game this ambitious is just as exciting. For that to come in the form of Half-Life feels like the culmination of a lot things we care a lot about: truly great games, cutting edge technology, and open platforms."
Half-Life: Alyx is due out in March 2020, when it will be available on all PC-based VR headsets, not just Index. If you own an Index, however, you'll get it for free, along with bonus content including "alternate gun skins to embellish Alyx's arsenal," and Alyx-themed content for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. The game will appear in your Steam library automatically at release, and you'll get it even if you only own the Index controllers, rather than the full VR kit. Everyone else will need to shell out $60.
I've still not been seduced by VR yet, with my sole device, the Gear VR, stuck in a cupboard since I got rid of the compatible Samsung phone. Half-Life: Alyx may very well be the game to change that, however. It's not Half-Life 3, and it continues to boggle the mind that Valve still hasn't announced plans to continue a story that's been left hanging for more than a decade, but it's close. That we'll be playing as the most likable character in the franchise is good encouragement.