Half-Life: Alyx Trailer Analysis - Everything We Noticed
Half-Life: Alyx, Full-Length Game
We finally have something to look forward to in the Half-Life universe: a real, full-fledged game called Half-Life: Alyx. It's been 12 years since Half-Life 2: Episode Two and many of us who have been engrossed in its wild sci-fi world over the years are excited about the prospect of exploring it in a new light. Half-Life: Alyx is built specifically for VR and will be playable on all SteamVR-compatible headsets (Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Oculus Quest via PC Link, and Windows Mixed Reality). And with the recent reveal trailer (see above), we have a better idea of what we'll be getting into when the game launches in March 2020.
There's a lot to unpack from the minute-and-a-half gameplay trailer that just dropped, and we break down what we saw in the following gallery. For starters, you play as Alyx Vance (hence the game's subtitle) in what looks to be a prequel, though there are other implications that lead us to believe it could be more than that. Alyx and her father Eli (who is also in the trailer) are important characters throughout the events of Half-Life 2 and its episodic follow-ups, and by all accounts, the game looks to be much more than a simple VR spinoff.
We'll be sure to update this gallery breakdown if we come across more information and ruminate the possibilities based on the trailer. For more on Half-Life: Alyx, be sure to check out all our coverage as well.
Half-Life: Alyx News
The Opening Shot
The first shot in the trailer shows an area that appears to resemble Nova Prospekt. In Half-Life 2, you visit Nova Prospekt, a prison run by the Combine that had turned into something much worse. The area in the scene has the same tile pattern as the ones seen in the laundry room area from Half-Life 2. An unknown machine can be seen scuttling along the floor as well. Half-Life 2 had mechanized enemies like this before with Manhacks, which are flying-armed sentries made by the Combine. It's possible this could be another one of their creations.
You also see how you'll be able to interactive with the environment, with objects that react to your touch and being integral to cover and your views of your surroundings. The scene ends with a headcrab jumping at you, which is terrifying to think about in VR.
Before The Events Of Half-Life 2
This awe-inspiring shot of City 17 and The Citadel is our first indication in the trailer that Half-Life: Alyx takes us back to earlier events in the series' story. The Citadel, which was already operational by the opening of Half-Life 2, looks to still be under construction here.
A New Character To Help The Resistance
Here's a quick snippet of a character we haven't seen before who will be helping Alyx. He says, "I'll helping you every step of the way," and we here him over radio chatter towards the beginning of the trailer. He seems to be a quirky fellow and a friendly resistance engineer. He's voiced by New Zealand actor and comedian Rhys Darby (Flight of the Conchords, What We Do In the Shadows), which he has confirmed via Twitter.
Puzzle Elements For VR
One of the advantages of being a VR game is that it allows for different types of interactions with the environment, which means new ways to do puzzles. The trailers show a little big of that, an example being how you have to rewire circuitry to open a door. There's also a quick shot later in the trailer showing a puzzle focused on lasers and rearranging them in a 3D space. This should be a welcome step in the right direction, especially considering how simplistic puzzles were in previous games.
VR-Tuned Weapons And Combat
It's typical for VR shooters to make you interact with firearms and weaponry more intimately, and that appears to be the case in Half-Life: Alyx as well. You'll have to hold firearms and load clips into them manually, which was demonstrated in this scene where your comrade recklessly tossed you a loaded pistol.
The Layers Of VR Mechanics
Through the mechanics of VR, you can effectively interact with a puzzle and defend yourself. In this part of the trailer, Alyx has her hand on a scanner while simultaneously firing a gun at approaching enemies. She was even able to reach over her body to fire at a gas can with her right hand to obliterate an enemy coming in from the left side. Scenarios like this help make VR games stand out, and Half-Life: Alyx seems to be included them.
Environmental Interactivity On Another Level
The one scene that drove home the idea of environmental interactivity . Half-Life: Alyx looks to emphasize the role of physical objects in its world by tucking important items into them in seemingly natural ways. No longer are you running over boxes of ammo to stay strapped, but in addition to manually loading weapons, you must inspect your surroundings unlike previous Half-Life games. It could also highlight the idea of needing to scavenge to survive the more tricky combat encounters which we say in this scene where you were able to take out a Combine soldier at the last second.
One of Half-Life 2's biggest innovations was in how it handled physics, highlighted by all the creative things you could do with the Gravity Gun. It placed an emphasis on using objects within the environment to your advantage and turning them into weapons. We all remember going through Ravenholm chopping zombies in half with sawblades ejected from the Gravity Gun. Half-Life: Alyx appears to be retooling that concept specifically for VR.
We'll call them Grabbity Gloves. And these empower Alyx to pull objects toward her the same way the Gravity Gun did for Gordon Freeman. This'll probably be a wildly fun aspect of the game.
Grabbity Gloves Episode 2
Well what do we see here? The Grabbity Gloves put into action! In this scene, Alyx stealthily pulls a grenade off a Combine soldier's belt only to (presumably) chuck it back at them. We're excited to explore the possibilities in Half-Life: Alyx.
Terrifying Enemies, New And Old
There appears to be some new enemies, at least one that looks to possess superhuman electrifying powers, slamming into the ground to send a current toward you. Some familiar foes (in addition to Combine soldiers) also threaten you, like striders, the disgusting ceiling-dwelling barnacles, and pesky antlions. They're sure to be a lot more frightening in VR, though.
The Search For Eli Vance
Given that this is, for the most part, a prequel, we get to see genius scientist Eli Vance, alive and relatively well. Those of you who finished Half-Life 2: Episode Two will recognize what he says at the end of the trailer: "Close your eyes, honey." It's ominous for the quote to be used, but what this implies for Half-Life: Alyx remains to be seen.
If anything, simply being a callback (or call-forward depending on how you look at it), emphasizes that the story revolves around the fate of Eli Vance and his work to combat the Combine. You also hear a Vortigaunt say, "Alyx Vance alone cannot prevent his fate," leading us to some more wild theories.
Theory-Crafting Some Deeper Connections
We might be jumping to conclusions here, but the twisting construction of this hallway makes it seem like a connection to Aperture Science, the company responsible for the events of the Portal series. We know that these two worlds are already connected, but perhaps more context awaits for us in Half-Life: Alyx. Also, the icon on the door sort of appears to be that of a Vortigaunt eye--maybe it's a door to Xen? Let us know if we need to relax.
The Final Shot
While we're still trying to rack our brains for this second-to-last shot in the trailer, we are almost certain this floating fortress is a key piece to Half-Life: Alyx's story.
The G-man Lives
And of course, it wouldn't be a proper Half-Life game without the looming presence of G-Man. The ominous, ever-mysterious G-Man appears at the very end of the trailer, walking towards the camera with a slight smirk, but not saying a word.