Half-Life is headed to VR in Half-Life: Alyx. Here's what we know so far.
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A new Half-Life game is on the way. On November 18, Half-Life: Alyx was officially announced, with Valve describing it as the developer's "flagship VR game," but leaving out key details. Its official unveiling happened Thursday, November 21 at 10 AM PT / 1 PM ET--we got the release window (though no exact release date), information about which VR platforms it'll be coming to, how to get Half-Life: Alyx's bonus content, and its highly anticipated announcement trailer.
All this news comes just a few days after Half-Life 2's 15th birthday and 12 whole years after the last real Half-Life game in Half-Life 2: Episode Two. The series has since been long dormant, its iconic cliffhanger ending fueling over a decade's worth of Half-Life 3 rumors, jokes, mods, and more. In 2017, retired Valve designer and former lead writer of the Half-Life series Marc Laidlaw published details on what would have allegedly been the plot of Half-Life 2: Episode Three. Countless user-created mods and even a fan-made remaster called Black Mesa have filled the void for Half-Life fans over the years, but no Half-Life 3.
But now, new rumors and the subsequent announcement from Valve has finally brought Half-Life back into the spotlight. Here's everything we know about Half-Life: Alyx so far.
- Half-Life: Alyx - What Is It?
- Release Date - When Is Half-Life: Alyx Coming Out?
- Announcement Trailer - First Footage Of Half-Life: Alyx
- Platforms - Which VR Headsets Are Compatible?
- Exclusive - Is VR Required?
- Controls - How Do You Play Half-Life: Alyx?
- Free Bonus Content - How To Get Half-Life: Alyx Gun Skins And More
- Price - Pre-Order Discount And How To Get Half-Life: Alyx For Free
- Story - When Does Half-Life: Alyx Take Place?
- Rumors - What Led Up To Half-Life: Alyx's Announcement?
- History - Valve's Past Work In VR
Half-Life: Alyx - What Is It?
Half-Life: Alyx is a "full-length entry in the Half-Life series," according to Valve. It was officially unveiled on Thursday, November 21, 2019.
We're thrilled to announce Half-Life: Alyx, a new full-length entry in the Half-Life series, built by Valve for VR.— Valve (@valvesoftware) November 21, 2019
Return to Half-Life in March 2020. Pre-purchase now on Steam. pic.twitter.com/GZkhp2Prx1
It's developed by Valve and built for VR. That means it's a PC, Steam, VR-exclusive experience. You can pre-purchase it now on Steam.
Release Date - When Is Half-Life: Alyx Coming Out?
Half-Life: Alyx's release window is March 2020, according to its Steam page. We don't have an exact confirmed release date just yet, but the game's Steam page is currently running a 10% off "pre-purchase" promotion that ends March 30, which would suggest it's coming out March 30 or March 31. This is just speculation based on information available on the Steam page. In any case, it's coming in March 2020.
Announcement Trailer - First Footage Of Half-Life: Alyx
We got our first look at Half-Life: Alyx in its announcement trailer, which you can see below.
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Platforms - Which VR Headsets Are Compatible?
- Valve Index
- HTC Vive
- Windows Mixed Reality
- Oculus Rift
- Oculus Quest With PC and Link Cable
If you already own or buy a Valve Index before the end of 2019, you'll get access to special bonus content, which you can find more info about later in this article.
Exclusive - Is VR Required?
Yes, Half-Life: Alyx is a VR exclusive; you won't be able to play it without owning one of the supported headsets outlined above. Valve is insistent that it simply would not work outside of VR without compromising what it's trying to do with Alyx.
Controls - How Do You Play Half-Life: Alyx?
It seems Valve is trying to make the experience as accessible to players, especially VR newcomers, as possible too--you'll be able to play Half-Life: Alyx in roomscale, sitting, or standing, and movement controls include teleport (which lets you fade out and back in from point A to point B), shift (which lets you smoothly move between two points), and continuous (which lets you use the analog stick to freely walk or run around.) Half-Life: Alyx also features two controller styles: finger tracking and trigger-based. The finger tracking style is unique to some VR controllers, like Valve Index controllers. Keyboard and mouse controls are not supported.
Free Bonus Content - How To Get Half-Life: Alyx Gun Skins And More
Half-Life: Alyx comes with free bonus content, including environments from the game in your SteamVR Home space, alternate gun skins for Half-Life: Alyx, and Half-Life: Alyx-themed content (probably more gun skins, but that's just our speculation) for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
To get the free bonus content, you need to have already owned or buy a Valve Index VR headset by the end of 2019. So if you're trying to make a decision on which VR headset to buy, that's one factor to measure.
Price - Pre-Order Discount And How To Get Half-Life: Alyx For Free
Half-Life: Alyx is a fully-priced PC game at $59.99, though if you pre-order you can get it for 10% off through March 30, 2020, bringing the price down to $53.99. Want to bring the price way down and get Half-Life: Alyx for free? Buy a Valve Index, Valve's newest VR headset. Or just buy the Valve Index Controllers--you don't even need the full VR kit. Already own the Valve Index and/or the controllers? Congrats, you already own Half-Life: Alyx. According to Valve, the game will appear in your Steam library "upon release."
Story - When Does Half-Life: Alyx Take Place?
According to Valve, Half-Life: Alyx is a full-length Half-Life game set between Half-Life and Half-Life 2. You play as Alyx Vance.
Set between the events of Half-Life and Half-Life 2, Alyx Vance and her father Eli discover a secret that leads them into the heart of the Combine's occupation of City 17.— Valve (@valvesoftware) November 21, 2019
As Alyx, give humanity its last chance for survival. https://t.co/ApxdkAdzAX pic.twitter.com/00V2cD1zV7
Rumors - What Led Up To Half-Life: Alyx's Announcement?
The most recent rumors, which eventually culminated in Valve's official announcement of Half-Life: Alyx, started because of an alleged interview transcript between Geoff Keighley (supposedly) and Valve representatives.
We’re excited to unveil Half-Life: Alyx, our flagship VR game, this Thursday at 10am Pacific Time.— Valve (@valvesoftware) November 18, 2019
Can’t wait to share it with all of you! pic.twitter.com/BupFCxSrTw
The now-deleted transcript suggested a December reveal at The Game Awards and a March 2020 release window. We now know the March 2020 window to be correct, and Valve eventually went on to tweet about the reveal on November 18, a few days before the game was unveiled on November 21.
History - Valve's Past Work In VR
Half-Life: Alyx isn't the first time rumors or even official information from Valve on a Half-Life VR game have circulated. In March 2015, Valve programmer Jeep Barnett told Kotaku that Valve was not saying "no" to the possibility of Half-Life in VR.
Half-Life: Alyx News
"...we don't know what the right thing is [yet]," Barnett told Kotaku. "Our most precious resource is time, and we don't have enough time for people to do everything. Would we like to make all of our franchises in VR? Absolutely. But we don't have enough time or people. So we have to figure out what's the best fit, what plays to the strengths of VR."
This was the same year Valve unveiled its Portal VR demo, which shipped with its first Vive dev kits that same year. In 2016, Valve released the HTC Vive to the public. The Valve Index, Valve's newest VR headset, was released in June 2019 along with the Valve Index Controllers.