In Half-Life: Alyx, you can protect yourself from barnacles by wearing a hard hat

We got a nice look at some new Half-Life: Alyx gameplay videos today, showing combat, puzzles, gravity gloves, upgradable guns, and more from the upcoming VR-only Half-Life 2 prequel. And at one point in the first video, a fun bit of interaction occurs: Alyx uses her gravity gloves to snatch a yellow hard hat from a nearby crate and plop it onto her head. Team Fortress 2's engineer would no doubt be proud.

But it's not just whimsy—it looks like that hard hat can literally save your neck. IGN posted a video of some hands-on Half-Life: Alyx gameplay today too, and in it we see a barnacle attempt to strangle Alyx as she wanders into its dangling tongue.

The barnacle doesn't choke her, however. Its tongue, reaching for her neck, instead harmlessly pulls the yellow hardhat off her head. You can see it around the 2:30 mark in IGN's video below.

Pretty nifty! Those hats aren't just for dressing Alyx up like a construction worker, but can actually save you from being strangled if you blunder into a barnacle's trap. We already knew that barnacles don't actually pull you to the ceiling if they grab you—Valve said playtests demonstrated that players didn't enjoy the movement of suddenly being dragged upwards—but they do still strangle you. So, keep a hat on at all times.

IGN's video shows another interesting element of HL:A around the 6:30 mark, when we see that the reflex sight modded onto Alyx's pistol also highlights weak points on zombies. Naturally, looking at a zombie highlights the headcrabs perched on their heads: kill the headcrab and the zombie is finished.

But there are also other weak points, such as a glowing area on the shin of one zombie and at the waistline of another. Shooting these areas results in the zombie exploding a moment later. It looks like some of them are carrying (willingly or otherwise) the explosive orb seen at the 2 minute mark in this Half-Life: Alyx video. Those organic-looking blobs can be detonated with a single pistol shot.

So, good news on two fronts. Hats can save your neck, and the reflex sight can save your ammo.

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.