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‘Half-Life: Alyx’ Arrives March 2020, And It Looks Stunning

Virtual reality might not have been how folks figured Half-Life returned, but here we go.

by Patrick Klepek
Nov 21 2019, 6:01pm

Image courtesy of Valve Software

Fans have waited more than 10 years for Valve to do something, anything with the Half-Life franchise. Half-Life 2: Episode 2, the second in a proposed trilogy of stories, is the last we’d seen of that world. Earlier this week, after a series of leaks, Valve announced it would soon unveil Half-Life: Alyx. That unveiling happened today. Here, finally, is a new Half-Life game:

Alyx arrives March 2020, and it’s a virtual reality game. Valve does produce their own high-end VR headset, Index, but Alyx will be compatible with any headset that connects to a PC. (If you own an Index, Valve will actually be tossing in a copy of the game free of charge.)

The game, according to Valve, will include “all of the hallmarks of a classic Half-Life game: world exploration, puzzle solving, visceral combat, and an intricately woven story.”

Rumors pegged Alyx as a prequel set in-between the events of Half-Life and Half-Life 2, and Valve confirmed that timeline today. This means we’re still unlikely to know what happened after the events of Episode 2. Here’s how Valve characterized Alyx’s place in the story:

“Set between the events of Half-Life and Half-Life 2, Alyx Vance and her father Eli secretly mount the resistance to the brutal occupation of Earth by a mysterious alien race known as The Combine. As Alyx, players take the fight to the Combine to save the future of humanity.”

Valve did say Alyx will connect with “all the characters iconic to the Half-Life universe,” which certainly suggests we’ll see the ol’ man with a crowbar. The presence of Eli Vance comes with a somber reminder: the voice actor behind Eli, Robert Guillaume, passed away in 2017. Presumably Alyx is using a new voice actor, but Valve didn’t respond to my request for clarification, as of this writing. Update: PC Gamer reports both characters will have new actors, with Ozioma Akagha (Runaways) voicing Alyx and James Moses Black (Logan) voicing Eli.

“Everyone at Valve is excited to be returning to the world of Half-Life,” says Valve founder Gabe Newell in a press release. “VR has energized us. 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. We can’t wait for people to experience this.”

Journalist Geoff Keighley, these days mostly known for hosting things like The Game Awards, will be writing another one of his behind-the-scenes books about the making of Alyx, and released a video teasing the game's origins:

As a massive Half-Life fan who’s been desperately hoping Valve would return to this universe, it was extremely weird to have my first glimpse at what Valve’s been cooking up be clicking on a Dropbox link that opened up a screenshot gallery. It was a little...anticlimactic.

Nonetheless, here is every screenshot Valve shared from Alyx:

1574357081104-COURTYARD_4K
1574357054168-COMBINE_ELEVATOR_4K
1574357040835-APARTMENTS_2K
1574357020944-CITADEL_2K
1574356980094-GRAVITY_GLOVES_2K
1574356955596-RUSSELS_LAB_2K
1574356944374-SEWER_2k

Is VR how I wanted Half-Life to come back? Not really. But I can’t wait. I. Cannot. Wait.

Follow Patrick on Twitter. His email is patrick.klepek@vice.com, and available privately on Signal (224-707-1561).

Tagged:
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virtual reality
half-life
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Half Life 2
Valve Software
Half-Life: Alyx