Video game fans, it might be time to rejoice: Half-Life: Alyx, the newest game in the Half-Life series, was announced today by Valve. Before you get too excited—no, this is not Half-Life 3. Instead, it’s a departure from the previous games and allows you to play as series mainstay, Alyx Vance. This game also will only be playable in VR, which is a break from the traditional structure of the series. Half Life: Alyx will take place in between the events of the first and the second game—years after the scientist (and series main character) Gordon Freeman inadvertently opens a hole to a different dimension, allowing aliens to invade the planet, but also some time before he reappears to help topple the totalitarian government formed by harvesting the powers and technology of the aforementioned aliens. Yes, I know, that’s a lot of plot to take in.
Valve teased the game earlier this week to mixed reactions from fans, who have been waiting with bated breath for a proper sequel to Half-Life 2: Episode 2 since its 2007 release. With that said, Half-Life: Alyx certainly looks intriguing at first-glance. There are very few games being developed “from the ground up” for virtual reality, and the idea of an entire fully fledged experience with a massive budget is something that fans have yet to see. What’s particularly exciting here is how the game looks to incorporate its trademark mixture of puzzle-solving, exploration, combat, and cinematic storytelling that it pioneered in the early days of the series. However, the fact that this is exclusively a VR game presents some complications. Some fans already miss familiar structure and method of play the series has stuck to in the prior iterations, and are wary of the pricy barrier to entry that accompanies virtual reality.
While it’s easy to understand why some fans are disappointed that this new franchise entry is exclusively a VR game, I’m still waiting to reserve judgement. After all, as a series, Half-Life was always known for its innovation and risk-taking—from the first games decision to never cut away from the main character’s POV and tell you the entire story as one person’s experience, to the novel but albeit clever physics puzzles that became a genre staple for years. Maybe Alyx will be the game that really proves to fans that VR is a platform worth investing in, one that spurs manufacturers to make virtual reality kits that are more accessible to a wider audience, and don’t require hundreds of dollars up front. Or maybe it’s because Valve owns a lot of expensive VR tech and wants to justify their purchases. Who knows!
I will say: there’s some very, very powerful nostalgia seeing a brand new Half-Life in 2019. Even if it’s from being completely deprived of anything and everything related to the series besides sly winks and nods, it still inspires some weird, warm feelings inside me to hear the voices of the characters I’ve become so familiar with. Is that a bad thing or a good thing? We’ll find out when this drops in March of 2020!
Regardless of how you feel, you can check out the trailer for Half-Life: Alyx below.
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Originally Appeared on GQ