Whether it's your first VR experience or Half-Life game, you'll need these tips to solve puzzles and survive combat in Half-Life Alyx.
Half-Life: Alyx nails so much of what makes the series great, and VR elevates some of its best qualities. But if you're not familiar with the ins-and-outs of VR or the way Half-Life typically does things, we have you covered. Even veterans such as myself wish I knew a few of these tips before playing, such as what weapon upgrades to spend your valuable Resin on, among other things.
One aspect you may not be familiar with is how Half-Life tends to do puzzles; there are no waypoints or objective markers, so you need to pay attention to what the environment is telling you. This extends to multitool puzzles and knowing what objects to interact with. If you're concerned about motion sickness or if you have physical limitations, we also have some pointers about your options.
We go into more detail about Half-Life: Alyx's accessibility options, and have a deeper dive into solving the different types of puzzles you'll encounter. We also have a comprehensive guide on Half-Life: Alyx's weapons and upgrades, and long-time fans won't want to miss all the Easter eggs we've found so far. Be sure to read our full Half-Life: Alyx review for our thoughts on the series' first game in 13 years.
Half-Life: Alyx Review And Guides
Well then, here are some of our basic tips and tricks to get you on the right path before you start playing Half-Life Alyx.
Look For Doors With Handles, And Especially Red Handles
Look, I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but the way Half-Life: Alyx leads you from section to section is in its visual cues, one of them being doors with handles. Don't bother with doors that don't, they don't open and there's nothing that lies beyond them.
Now, you'll also want to be on the lookout for more than just any old door handle. If something you can grip has red paint on it, it's important. This is particularly relevant to garage doors that require you to get down near the floor to open and some cabinets that contain critical items. In later sections of the game, it's very important to keep this in mind.
Follow The Circuits And Cables
Most of Half-Life: Alyx's puzzles revolve around the multitool. Critical path puzzles usually consist of rewiring circuitry to power certain objects. As the game goes on these become more complex and you'll have to be more mindful of where these circuits lead. You can trace them or check where they are inside the walls by simply holding your multitool against the wall. Tracking the current flow is also important as these puzzles begin to span larger spaces.
Similarly, you want to keep an eye on where cables lead and come from within the environment. A few puzzles may have you scratching your head, but if you keep an eye on clues like cables and wiring, these will guide you to locations of critical points and what you need to interact with next.
Quick Tip For Spatial Puzzles
There is one set of multitool puzzles that require you to move one node to another. It starts with a few red nodes that cause you to fail the puzzle, but ramps up in difficulty. Red nodes start to move and leave dangerous trails, but you can take your time. As long as your multitool is disengaged, you won’t fail the puzzle as red nodes hover over.
Upgrade The Pistol, SMG, And Shotgun For Laser Sights ASAP
Throughout Half-Life: Alyx, you'll collect Resin, which serves as a currency for upgrading your slim arsenal. However, you have to be smart about how you spend Resin since upgrades are costly. We'd recommend saving your Resin to outfit your guns with laser sights ASAP (and avoiding the reflex sight since it's not as helpful).
Aiming in VR can be difficult, but the laser sight shows you exactly where your shots will land for the Pistol and SMG (when you eventually get it). As for the Shotgun, the laser sight is also very helpful because it paints a circle of how your shot will spread. And since shotgun shells are quite rare, you'll want to make sure each shot hits. Most other upgrades will come down to preference, but the Shotgun's grenade launcher and SMG's multi-clip upgrade are easy to recommend.
Each Weapon Has Its Best Use Case
You may have a limited loadout, but it's just enough to get by Half-Life: Alyx combat scenarios. And we have some recommendations as to what to use for specific encounters. A few examples: the shotgun is great against Combine, especially Heavies, the pistol is great for slow moving zombies and clipping the weak points off Antlions, and SMG is best suited for other Combine soldiers, drones, and larger crowds of weaker enemies.
Use Objects In The Environment Against Barnacles
Early on in the game, ammo will be hard to come by, and you'll encounter the ceiling-dwelling Barnacles--your instinct might be to shoot and get them out of the way. They take 3 to 4 pistol shots to kill, but you can save that ammo by tossing any old object into its tongue to keep it occupied for a few seconds, giving you a window of opportunity to get by.
Some instances have red barrels or gas canisters in the environment, and if you get a Barnacle to eat one, it'll explode. It's pretty satisfying to see them blow to pieces, but take a step back first so you don't get hurt. Don't forget to check the aftermath for any ammo they might have dropped!
Shoot Headcrab Zombies In The Headcrab
Half-Life veterans may know this all too well but if you're not aware, there’s a proper way to kill a zombie. Aim for the headcrab attached to it and you’ll kill the zombie and (possibly) the headcrab attached simultaneously. If you shoot zombies in the body, the headcrab will survive and come at you, which will take up more of your ammo, and make your life that much harder.
Store Grenades And Syringes In Your Wrists
You may forget from time to time that Alyx can store health syringes and grenades in her wrist pockets. Simply hold the object near your wrist to put it away and you can grab it at any time. Remember this will come in clutch for heated encounters, especially when the game ramps up the challenge in the latter half.
Pull Grenades Using The Gravity Gloves
Combine soldiers will sometimes throw grenades at you, but what if you just threw it right back at them? You can do that with the Gravity Gloves. Just pull the grenade in as you would any other object and toss it, saving yourself from getting hurt and inflicting damage on enemies. If you're clever enough, you can pluck a grenade off an unsuspecting (or dead) soldier's belt, too.
Use A Combo Of Walking And Teleporting For Movement (And Other Mobility Options)
Half-Life: Alyx incorporates multiple VR movement styles and you should go with whatever's most comfortable for you. We found the most effective method, gameplay-wise, was to use a combination of continuous analog locomotion alongside teleportation.
Teleportation can get you out of a bind fast and covers more ground. However, analog movement can be more precise when trying to get in specific positions, especially in combat scenarios or getting close to objects if you're not using a room-scale setup. Test if any of this makes you motion sick and tweak your options accordingly. If you are playing through a seated experience, you have options that let you crouch and stand a bit taller with the click of the analog sticks to help you grab things that are out of reach.