Half-Life: Alyx Weapon Upgrade Guide - The Best Upgrades To Get First

How to use the Combine fabricator and upgrade your weapons in Half-Life: Alyx.


Half-Life: Alyx doesn't have a lot of weapons to choose from, but it does have the essentials: a pistol, shotgun, and SMG. Between these three, some grenades, and Alyx's handy gravity gloves, you'll be perfectly suited to take on enemies, Combine and Xen alike.

For the first time in the Half-Life series, you'll also be able to upgrade your weapons using a collectible resource called resin and a machine called a Combine Fabricator. In this guide, we've mapped out each weapon's upgrades and resin requirements, so you can save up and plan accordingly.

We've also broken down a few other essential items in Half-Life: Alyx, from important tech like Alyx's multitool to collectibles you should key an eye out for around the world.

For more Half-Life: Alyx, check out our top 10 essential tips for beginners.

How To Use The Combine Fabricator

A Combine fabricator is a large piece of machinery you'll come across a few times on Alyx's journey, which allows her to upgrade weapons. It costs resin to buy each individual upgrade.

An inactive Combine fabricator.
An inactive Combine fabricator.

Before you can use a fabricator, you have to solve a multitool puzzle or two to unlock it. There might even be occasions where you have to solve an environmental puzzle to power it on first. But once you boot them up, you just need to insert your weapon of your choice, select your desired upgrade, and deposit the required amount of resin to get the process started.

For help finding and storing resin, scroll to the consumable items section of this guide.

Half-Life: Alyx Weapons


The pistol is the first weapon Alyx gets, a gift from friendly resistance member and Alyx's guide throughout her journey, Russell. It's a modified M1911 with HUD elements on the grip that let you check how many rounds are left in the magazine.

Alyx's pistol.
Alyx's pistol.

To reload the pistol, press the button on your controller mapped to release the current magazine, physically retrieve a new magazine (either from Alyx's backpack or somewhere in the environment), and then physically load it in. The pistol holds 10 rounds at the start of the game, with an additional 10 added with the bullet reservoir upgrade. Before you can fire, you need to pull the slide back to chamber a round. You can do this physically, by grabbing the slide, or pressing a button on your controller to automatically activate the slide release--which is especially handy if you're playing in one-handed mode.

Fun fact: You can actually rack the slide multiple times to eject fresh rounds. Be warned though, this will empty the magazine and Alyx sadly can't pick up the individual bullets and manually load them back into the mag. Half-Life: Alyx has fun with some of its manual firearm operations, but it doesn't get overly technical with it.

Find the list of pistol upgrades possible using the Combine Fabricator below.

Reflex SightAdds a display that highlights tactical targets10
Burst FireAdds a toggle between three-shot burst and single-fire20
Bullet ReservoirAdds a reservoir that holds 10 additional bullets30
Laser SightAdds a reservoir that holds 10 additional bullets35

Tip: You might be tempted to buy the reflex sights right away, since it'll be the first upgrade you can afford for the pistol. But Half-Life: Alyx is not like typical first-person shooters. You won't be able to lock into an "aim down sights" mode--you'll have to do this manually. That's all well and good, but the reflex sights don't add much more of an advantage than just aiming down the iron sights anyway--highlighting weak spots is a nice touch, but not essential. If you really want precision, save up for that laser sight and get it as early as possible. Then do the bullet reservoir after that.


The shotgun is great for killing headcrabs in a pinch because it doesn't require the same precision as the pistol. It's also extremely effective against the more heavily armored Combine soldiers.

Alyx's shotgun.
Alyx's shotgun.

Shells can be more scarce than handgun ammo, but can take some enemies out in a single well-placed shot. If you can afford it, the grenade launcher add-on gives the shotgun a powerful long-distance option, making it much more versatile in larger, more crowded combat arenas.

To reload the shotgun, you have to press the release button on your controller to expose the tube magazine. Shells must be loaded manually and just like any other ammo in the game, you can load in shells you've retrieved from Alyx's backpack or picked up in the world.

Closing the shotgun.
Closing the shotgun.

The shotgun can hold six shells, plus one in the chamber. After you've loaded in your shells, you have to physically whip the shotgun up with a flick of your wrist to lock the hinge back in place. You can also use your other hand to manually bring the barrel back up. Then, pull the slide back to chamber a round if there isn't one already.

Tip: After loading six shells, chamber one, then open up the shotgun again to load that extra one in.

If you want to load a grenade with the grenade launcher add-on, simply touch a grenade to the end of your shotgun to attach it, or place one on with your other hand.

Find the full list of shotgun upgrades possible using the Combine Fabricator below.

Laser SightAdds a laser projection for better targeting10
Double ShotAdds the option to fire a second shot immediately after the first25
AutoloaderAdds a mechanical shell feeder to quickly load the shotgun30
Grenade LauncherAdds the ability to attach and launch grenades40

Tip: The laser sight is a nice thing to have, but shotgun blasts are so wide and you'll probably be using it in close proximities anyway that it isn't entirely necessary. Save up for one of the more advanced upgrades!


The Combine SMG is a powerful firearm that utilizes power cells.

The Combine SMG.
The Combine SMG.

There are 30 rounds in each power cell. It's probably the simplest weapon to reload as it's mostly automatic--just pull out a power cell and attach it to the side.

Loading the SMG without the extended magazine attachment.
Loading the SMG without the extended magazine attachment.

If you have the extended magazine, you can push the same button used to eject a pistol magazine to open up the SMG and load multiple power cells through the side. Use a whipping motion or close the side to ready the weapon.

Reflex SightAdds a display that highlights tactical targets15
Laser SightAdds a laser sight for better targeting25
Extended MagazineAllows multiple power cells to be loaded into the weapon30

Tip: Just like the pistol, the reflex sight isn't the most important upgrade you can get for the SMG. Go for the laser sight first.


There are two types of grenades in Half-Life: Alyx. Both require just one hand to use, but be extra cautious about your surroundings (in real life) when throwing them.

Unlike ammo, grenades cannot be stored in Alyx's backpack--only in her wrist pockets, meaning you can only carry up to two at a time.

Combine Grenade

This is the standard grenade you'll find in the game, and also the type that is compatible with the shotgun's grenade launcher. Just press a button to active it and manually throw once it's armed. If an enemy throws one at you and you're quick enough, you can even pull it in with the gravity gloves and toss it back before it blows.

Xen Grenade

These are explosive orbs you can find on tentacle-like Xen creatures in certain overgrown parts of City 17. You'll have to be quick to snatch it from the tentacle's grip. Once you do manage to grab one, activate it, and throw. (If you're using the Index, you can squeeze your controller to activate it.)

Half-Life: Alyx Tools

Gravity Gloves

Alyx's gravity gloves (or the "Russells") will be your most powerful tool in Half-Life: Alyx. They aren't as strong as Gordon Freeman's gravity gun, but they are far more wieldy. You'll use them primarily to pick up items (near or far) with just a flick of your wrist, like telekinesis. HUD elements on one glove display your health and resin. Alyx also has wrist pockets that let her store a single item in each one, which is great for setting aside grenades, healing syringes, and key items for solving environmental puzzles.

Alyx's gravity gloves, or the
Alyx's gravity gloves, or the "Russells."

Even without the power of the gravity gloves, Alyx's hands are an important tool. This is a VR game, so everything you do is built around using your hands (or hand, if you're playing single-handed mode) to manipulate the world. Scavenging through a messy locker to find ammo, picking up barrels, opening doors, plugging in wires, depositing or retrieving items into your backpack, pulling levers, crushing supply crates, throwing explosives--all of these actions will be done manually.


Alyx's multitool, as the name suggests, is a tool with multiple uses. It is probably meant to be an early prototype of the EMP tool she's seen using in Half-Life 2. In Half-Life: Alyx, you'll use it to bypass Combine security measures like forcefields, rewire electronics, and solve puzzles to access locked equipment like storage lockers and Combine fabricators.

Alyx's multitool, or the
Alyx's multitool, or the "Alyx."

You can press the trigger button to use the end of the multitool to interact with the environment, but everything else is motion-based. You might need to press it into a port to power a piece of equipment up or trace along the walls to rewire and reroute electricity. There are a number of different multitool puzzle types that are randomly generated too, requiring you to manipulate objects in 3D space.

Half-Life: Alyx Items


Ammo for your weapons is probably the #1 item you'll be on the lookout for in the environment. This includes:

  • Handgun magazines
  • Shotgun shells (individual or in packs)
  • SMG power cells

Luckily, you can find ammo pretty much anywhere: on shelves, in lockers, drawers, cabinets, and boxes, etc. Be on the lookout for supply crates (light wooden boxes with a yellow "supply" label on them (you'll recognize these from previous Half-Life games), which can be shot, smashed, or broken open. They often contain ammo and other important items. You can also sometimes loot ammo from bodies.

All ammo can be stored in Alyx's backpack. Just be careful when doing so--the specific gesture might take some getting used to and it's possible to drop things on the floor if you're not very deliberate.


Resin looks like little glowing hockey pucks. It's a Combine material used to upgrade your weapons using Combine fabricators. Just like ammo, resin is a common item in the game and can be found pretty much anywhere.

A piece of resin on a shelf.
A piece of resin on a shelf.

Be sure to be extra observant when scavenging for resin, because you can often stumble on some hidden in the far corners of levels and in hard-to-reach places. You will only encounter a few Combine fabricators in the game, and there's no backtracking once you progress to the next chapter, so make sure you collect as much as you can and save up for the upgrades you want. That way you can make the most out of every opportunity.

Resin can be stored in Alyx's backpack--again, be careful when doing so and make sure it actually ends up in the backpack and not on the floor!

Healing Syringe

There are two ways to heal yourself in Half-Life: Alyx. You can use the wall-mounted health chargers when you find them, or keep a healing syringe or two on hand (or in your wrist pockets--though you can definitely carry them around by hand too, if you want.)

Readying a healing syringe.
Readying a healing syringe.

To use a health syringe, just press the action button to activate it and then physically stick it into your arm or body. Everything but Alyx's hands are invisible, but it will still work. You don't have to hold it in either--the healing effect will occur instantly, and then you can discard it.

Unlike ammo and resin, healing syringes cannot be stored in bulk in Alyx's backpack. You can only store one in each wrist pocket, which means two is the maximum amount you can stash away for later use. Be mindful to use the wall-mounted health chargers (if possible) before syringes you have stashed.

For more, check out our Half-Life: Alyx puzzle guide, accessibility options guide, and read our full review.

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