The beloved 'Half-Life' series finally got a new game, but there's a good reason it's not the sequel fans were expecting
"Half-Life Alyx"/ Valve
- For the first time in over a decade, the beloved "Half-Life" video game series is getting a new entry: "Half-Life: Alyx."
- The game is scheduled to arrive in March 2020, and it can only be played in virtual reality headsets.
- The last game in the "Half-Life" series, "Half-Life 2: Episode Two," ended on a cliffhanger that's never been resolved. Fans have been waiting for "Half-Life 3" for years.
- The team behind "Half-Life: Alyx" explained why they're not making "Half-Life 3" in an interview with Geoff Keighley ahead of The Game Awards in December.
- It turns out, the team felt that creating a sequel was "a terrifyingly daunting prospect," and VR became a new avenue for making the game happen.
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Over 12 years ago, Valve released what would be the final entry in its long-running, beloved "Half-Life" video game series.The game ended on a narrative cliffhanger which turned into a real-life cliffhanger. Would another "Half-Life" game ever come out? For years - 12 and counting - the answer was no.
Oh, and there's another big caveat: "Half-Life: Alyx" is a virtual reality game that can only be played on PC in VR.
"Half-Life Alyx"/ Valve
It turns out there's a good reason for both of those major derivations from fan expectations."In all honesty, back in 2016 when we started this, 'Half-Life 3' was just a terrifyingly daunting prospect," Valve game designer Robin Walker said in an interview with Geoff Keighley ahead of The 2019 Game Awards. "I think to some extent, VR was a way we could fool ourselves into believing we had a way to do this."Instead of starting the project as "Half-Life 3," it was started as a way to answer the question, "Where's the big VR title?" Walker said. That's because Valve - the company behind the massively-popular Steam storefront - has been pushing hard into VR for years now.
First, the company teamed up with HTC to create the Vive. Now, it produces the Valve Index, which is an even higher-fidelity VR headset than the Vive. Valve's Index is considered the Ferrari of VR headsets, a title it earned both by its technical prowess and absurdly high $1,000 all-in price point.
But even for all of Valve's support for virtual reality - to say nothing of Sony's support with PlayStation VR, or Facebook's support with Oculus - the market for VR headsets has not taken off. One major reason for that is a lack of so-called "must-play" games, and, in 2016, Valve employees sought to solve that problem.To that end, Valve only has so many properties that make sense for virtual reality.
"We settled on 'Portal' or 'Half-Life' as interesting," Valve game developer David Speyrer said.
"It was really easy to not think about the big picture of, 'We're making Half-Life 3,'" Walker said, "And just focus on 'Let's figure out what people enjoy in this and make forward progress.'"He compared VR, as a gameplay hook, to the iconic gravity gun from "Half-Life 2" - a means of focusing the team around something specific that could guide design. "In some ways, VR was a little bit ... the way the gravity gun helped us in 'Half-Life 2,' where it just became the tentpole that you could wrap so much around. And so VR became this thing that we could wrap everything around."
"We want to put this out and see how the world reacts to it before we make any concrete plans about what's next," Speyrer said.
"Half-Life: Alyx" is scheduled to arrive in March 2020 on Valve's Steam service.Check out the debut trailer right here:
And check out Geoff Keighley's interview with some of the game's developers right here:
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