After more than 12 years, Valve is officially returning to the Half-Life universe. Half-Life: Alyx is a “full-length” VR entry into the series — but if you were thinking we’d finally find out what happened after the events of Half-Life 2: Episode Two, I have some extremely disappointing news. Alyx will take place between the events of Half-Life and Half-Life 2. For those of us who’ve been waiting for Valve to return to these games, it’s a bit of a bittersweet moment — the company undoubtedly knows how to make an excellent game, and the screenshots Valve shared certainly should get fans excited. But if you’re looking for closure after the mega-cliffhanger that was Episode Two, you’ll have to keep waiting.
Enough about what Alyx isn’t, though. The game is set for release on Steam in March of 2020, just four short months from now, and will work with all PC-compatible VR headsets. Pre-orders are open now and the game costs $59.99, though owners of Valve’s Index VR headset will get it for free. Unfortunately, it seems there’s no plans for a non-VR version of the game, so get ready to open your wallets if you haven’t jumped on board that train yet.
We’re thrilled to announce Half-Life: Alyx, a new full-length entry in the Half-Life series, built by Valve for VR.
Return to Half-Life in March 2020. Pre-purchase now on Steam. pic.twitter.com/GZkhp2Prx1
— Valve (@valvesoftware) November 21, 2019
As for what to expect from the story, it shouldn’t be too big a surprise to those who’ve played Half-Life 2. Valve says the game will focus on Alyx Vance and her father Eli’s fight against the Combine, an alien race that has occupied Earth. Past Half-Life games didn’t make it entirely clear how the Combine came to enslave humanity following the events of the first game, where they didn’t feature at all, so we may get some insight into how things got as bad as they did.
The screenshots Valve shared show a familiar look at a ruined, occupied city that is probably City 17 from Half-Life 2 — but we’ve never seen it rendered in this fidelity, and that’s without the extra immersion VR will provide. Also, gravity gloves! Can’t wait to see how those work.
“Everyone at Valve is excited to be returning to the world of Half-Life,” Valve’s Gabe Newell said in a statement. “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.”
That all sounds good, but here’s hoping that this is the start of a new journey into the world of Half-Life and not a swan song. But regardless of what happens, it’s hard not to at least be curious about a full-fledged new game from Valve.