Half-Life: Alyx hits VR in March 2020

Valve surprised us and just about everybody else who has ever played a PC game earlier this week when it announced the impending release of a new Half-Life game called Half-Life: Alyx. Now, Valve has revealed some major details on its game, including a release date and how we’ll be able to play it.

Is this VR’s killer-app game?

Valve lead programmer David Speyrer dropped a few crucial bits talking to The VergeHalf-Life: Alyx is not a side story or an episode. This game will be “around the same length as Half-Life 2.” It takes place before Half-Life 2, but Speyrer says it’s best if you play through Half-Life 2: Episode 2 first. So it’s not a simple tech demo. It’s not a sequel, but it’s not not a sequel, either.

VR fans will rejoice: Half-Life Alyx, built on Valve’s new Source 2 engine, is VR-exclusive. It’s designed for the ground up for VR. Any SteamVR-compatible headset works, though, so you don’t need a Valve Index to play it (though it’s free if you have one). The Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Windows Mixed Reality headsets should all work. Even an Oculus Quest will work if you plug in via the USB Type-C cable.

Valve says that Half-Life: Alyx is VR down to the core, and it’s not as simple as mapping actions to a keyboard. There are so many small things you can do in the game that “we could have to map an entire section of the keyboard dedicated just to interacting with doors,” Valve developer Dario Casali told Polygon. You can partially open a door, peek through it, shut it, put a gun through the gap and fire it, and more. Speyrer said that making the game compatible with traditional flat screens would “end up watering down the experience.” If a traditional version is coming, it will be a separate thing, though the team didn’t hint that such a thing is happening.

The Min Reqs

The minimum requirements for Half-Life: Alyx ask for a Windows 10 computer with a Core i5-7500/Ryzen 5 1600 or better on the CPU front and an Nvidia GTX 1060 or AMD Radeon RX 580 graphics card. You’ll also need 12GB of RAM, too, the company says. That’s not a top-shelf computer by any means, but it probably won’t make for an ideal experience, either.

Valve hasn’t set an exact day for Half-Life: Alyx, but says it is coming in March 2020. That the company is even talking at all suggests it must be pretty confident in that time frame. The game is up for pre-order right now for 10% off its cover price of $59.99 on Steam.

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doomguy64
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doomguy64

Valve is just making this to cement their monopoly in digital distribution for VR. It was the same with Episodic content for HL2, since that was steam exclusive. Not that this is a bad thing, considering how segmented the VR market is. It’s just sad that this is the true motivation behind continuing the HL franchise. It’s also sad that none of the original VR companies have ever moved into making VR mainstream, as in affordable quality headsets, aside from samsung. VR has also come at the detriment of tradition 3d monitors, with Nvidia and AMD dropping support, all while… Read more »

Krogoth
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Krogoth

There’s no big money in VR. The masses simply don’t care or are willing go with the headaches and loops involved with VR. The limited selection of viable genres also kills its market prospects.

VR will always be niche as dedicated gaming peripherals.

doomguy64
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doomguy64

It’s only niche because of how horrible it is implemented, and how ridiculously expensive it costs. You can buy a cheap phone with google cardboard or a samsung set, and get the same experience as a $1000 set, which shows how high the markup is. Then we have horrible game selection with both store and API segmentation. VR should never have been sold at ripoff pricing, DRMed APIs and storefronts, and should have been fully backwards compatible with existing software. That’s what killed it. It’s not that VR couldn’t have made money, it’s that the entire VR ecosystem is run… Read more »

psuedonymous
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psuedonymous

You can buy a cheap phone with google cardboard or a samsung set, and get the same experience as a $1000 set

Only in the same way you can buy an Atom-based NUC or a 3970X and get the same experience.

Protip: you don’t. Not even close. For any mobile VR barring Quest you don’t even have full 6DoF tracking! Let alone the issues of calibrating for Orthostereo (no slide-the-phone-in system will achieve this), tracked controllers, etc.

and should have been fully backwards compatible with existing software

And GPUs should magically accelerated 2D DOS games, because code works on wishful thinking.

doomguy64
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doomguy64

Nobody needs perfect headtracking with a mouse based FPS, especially if you DGAF about standing around in a room like an idiot waving motion sticks. There are phone games like Quake VR that use the phone’s tracking for VR, and that works well enough. Also, Google cardboard combined with video streaming DOES WORK, AND I’VE TRIED IT. I’ve used TriDef with Kinoconsole / cardboard on my 1440p android phone to play Borderlands 2 and Alien Isolation. Using the mouse is vastly superior in playing FPS, and there are no problems with the 3d stereo. The real issue is both TriDef… Read more »

doomguy64
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doomguy64

additional point: GPU acceleration for DOS games do exist. Glide for games like blood, descent, and carmageddon, SciTech for VESA, and Direct3d + HQ2x pixel shaders for DosBox. You need to properly research before making claims. Also, Samsung makes some of the best affordable VR products on the market, unlike everyone else. Even at $1000, VR sets are still having quality issues, annoying setup, clunky controllers, etc. None of them are worth the money, so it’s better to buy a cheap set or use cardboard. Especially when the software isn’t there, and 3rd party software offers more flexibility.

psuedonymous
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psuedonymous

Nobody needs perfect headtracking with a mouse based FPS When it comes to VR, you either have perfect head-tracking, or you have a piece of jump that only belongs in the bin. There are HARSH minimum performance criteria your need to satisfy to have a HMD of any utility. “LOL just bind it to mouse-look” doesn’t even come close. I’ve used TriDef with Kinoconsole / cardboard on my 1440p android phone to play Borderlands 2 Then you’ve frankly tried hacked-together garbage. It’s like claiming HDTV sucks and will amount to nothing because you watched a recording of your friends HDTV… Read more »

doomguy64
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doomguy64

I’d rather not use headtracking / motion controllers to look as it is VERY AWKWARD and tiring, and I have used a Samsung VR set in a few VR PC games. VR in general is a stupid gimmick outside of the 3d effect. Phone based VR works perfectly fine if you’ve ever tried Quake VR. It’s just SUPER CLUNKY to look with your head in an action based FPS. I’d much rather SIT DOWN AND USE A CONTROLLER instead of bumping my knees into my desk and tripping over VR cables. It’s not something that you can marathon a RPG,… Read more »

Krogoth
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Krogoth

VR is a novelty in the eyes of the masses and most gamers. They have spoken their wallets and their attention is drawn elsewhere.

The successor to 2D imagery is going to be true 3D protections.

JustAnEngineer
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JustAnEngineer

Is VR more than a niche gimmick at this point?

Krogoth
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Krogoth

Nope, it is still a niche like dedicated gaming peripherals.

ClickClick5
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ClickClick5

Like how 3D TVs came back, and once again, died.

psuedonymous
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psuedonymous

That’s begging the question: it was never a ‘niche gimmick’ to start with.

Krogoth
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Krogoth

Yes, it is. Just like dedicated flightsticks, steering wheels and such.

The masses aren’t never going to be jive with the idea of using an headset for gaming and VR in itself is only well-suited for several genres (simulations, social media, shooting galleries etc.

Al Bundy
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Al Bundy

depends…will all 5 copies of this game get sold? and does she walk around with her hands up like that throughout the whole game?

superjawes
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superjawes

Niche? Yes. Gimmick? No.

After playing Beat Saber, I can confidently say that VR is more than just a tech demo now, and more games exist to make it a worthwhile investment for some players. However…heavy emphasis on “some players”. The high cost of entry limits who can adopt, as does the motion sickness problems, and don’t forget about those with disabilities, either.

So that leaves it firmly in “niche” territory, IMO. They won’t get out of there until they develop a whole bunch of “VR enhanced” games that don’t *require* a headset to play, plus the budget-minded hardware to support.

JustAnEngineer
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JustAnEngineer

Haitex X-Specs S3D and Space Spuds didn’t convince me way back when. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49tH-gAA1Uw
My 3D TV paired with a living room gaming PC and PlayStation3 didn’t convince me in the previous go-round.

superjawes
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superjawes

3D is not the same thing as VR. I was using a PlayStation VR (one of the less capable platforms), and it worked pretty well (although a Vive/Index platform would be significantly better for room scale). VR is the perfect space for rhythm games and anything where you’re in a cockpit. Like I said, it’s still very niche since there isn’t a lot of “VR enhanced” content out there, but it’s not a “gimmick” stuck in tech demo Hell anymore. It’s just a matter of adoption by developers at this point. If we get more usage of headsets, things will… Read more »

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