Rejoice! Hell has frozen over, because there's a new Half Life game announced named Half-Life: Alyx.
Earlier this week, a Valve Software Twitter account made in June (and already verified) tweeted out that very unexpected announcement. Two days later, right on time, the account made several more Tweets pertaining to the announcement.
Set between the events of Half-Life and Half-Life 2, Alyx Vance and her father Eli discover a secret that leads them into the heart of the Combine's occupation of City 17.— Valve (@valvesoftware) November 21, 2019
As Alyx, give humanity its last chance for survival. https://t.co/ApxdkAdzAX pic.twitter.com/00V2cD1zV7
VR was built for the kind of gameplay that sits at the heart of Half-Life, and Half-Life: Alyx was built from the ground up for VR. You'll be able to play it on any SteamVR compatible system.— Valve (@valvesoftware) November 21, 2019
Learn more about our VR compatibility and play styles: https://t.co/n1Ow10wBL8 pic.twitter.com/3K3dPMpnn7
Included was also an almost two-minute announcement trailer that showed off a lot of what can be expected from this VR-centric installment in the series, also available on YouTube.
A Steam store page has been prepared for users to Wishlist or Pre-Purchase the game, with the page citing a release date around March 2020.
As you may have noticed, this next installment in the Half-Life franchise sadly isn't called Half-Life 3, but instead is a VR-exclusive prequel centered around Alyx Vance, the deuteragonist of the renown series who's now set to become a full-fledged protagonist herself. According to the Steam page, the story takes place between Half-Life and Half-Life 2.
From what we can tell by the trailer, the game will feature a tense atmosphere unique to the Half-Life series, complete with iconic headcrab jumpscare and frequent firearm combat with the Combine, the main antagonist faction seen from Half-Life 2 on forward. There will also be puzzles reminiscent of the hacking system seen before in the Watch Dogs series where the player must complete a holographic circuit to power an object or in some other form unlock progress. And of course, there's plenty of interaction with physics, ranging from scrounging through cupboards looking for spare ammo, to using a special gravity-glove of sorts to grab items from a distance and even grenades straight from enemy pockets.
Valve themselves call the game their flagship VR game, quite possibly developed with at least part intent to boost the sales of their own VR Headset, the Valve Index, which is now also made available for purchase in Canada. Additionally, the game will be free for all Valve Index owners, although it will also be available for other other headsets that support Steam VR.
Being a fresh owner of a Valve Index myself, I definitely feel that the tech is more than ready to be taken serious for future gaming development. There are only two things that hold the scene back right now: Price and Game length. A VR headset is an expensive piece of hardware, but the largest part of games available for VR right now range from proof-of-concept to short-but-sweet. Very few (yet very good) VR games feature a length and complexity that feels like a full-fledged game. The way things appear now, Half-Life: Alyx seems ready to be one of the (currently) few to compete for this lofty title.