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Half-Life: Alyx – The Pinnacle of VR Gaming so Far?

In November 2019, Valve sent shockwaves through the PC gaming community by releasing an announcement trailer for its new Half-Life game, titled Half-Life: Alyx. The long-awaited sequel promises to revolutionize the VR experience, by bringing an exclusively VR product with never before seen features. Although there's not much information yet, the short but compact trailer blew us away with many unique details and left us wanting more. Continue reading to find out every piece of information that's currently available on this PC exclusive.

Short Preview of Half-Life: Alyx

There's a popular sentiment among PC players that Valve refuses to count to three in its games. We've seen Half-Life 2, Portal 2, Left 4 Dead 2, many versions of CS: GO, none of them going up to three. In Classic Valve fashion, the developer decided to play into this and, instead of creating a sequel to the 2004 Half-Life 2 game, they've decided to develop a game that takes place before the return of Gordon Freeman. So, while we can say that this is Half-Life 1.5, as it expands on events that transpired between the two base games, Alyx is nothing less than a standalone game. A fully fleshed-out VR standalone game at that.

While there are very few details currently out there, we've managed to find out a few things that can help to shape our expectations of the upcoming PC exclusive. This time around, you're playing as Alyx Vance, Gordon Freeman's ally. The game follows Alyx and her father, Eli Vance, as they fight Combine, a sinister alien empire that has conquered Earth. With delightful Valve humor, recognizable characters and the time-tested Source 2 engine, everything seems to be in place for yet another Half-Life masterpiece.

Of course, Alyx isn't set in this period just because of Valve's refusal to expand in endless sequels. After the release of its episodic Half-Life game series, Valve experimented with further Half-Life concepts for over a decade. It's fair to say that the company never strayed away from the game that made them popular, just that they have been waiting for the right time and the right idea before they go into it with full force.

Can Such a Game Work in VR?

To be completely objective when analyzing the available data, we can't help but ask a question – will such a detailed, massive and demanding game work well in VR? Since Half-Life is a relatively open-ended FPS with some scripted parts, developing such a demanding 3D game in VR undoubtedly takes a lot of effort. Seeing that Valve is a relatively small company compared to other VR giants like Playstation, HTC, and Facebook, some critics also have doubts about just how well the game will gel with VR controllers. These are some of the biggest questions we can't wait to see get answered in a few months when the game launches.

But, even if we consider this, we should still keep in mind that Valve has never released a game unfinished. If Gabe Newell and his company taught us anything over the years, it's that we can count on Valve products to be as polished as possible before they hit the proverbial shelves. Probably the biggest telltale sign for this is the fact that Valve left a very narrow timeframe between the announcement trailer and the launch date. This means that they've been working on Alyx for years and that everything is most likely already honed to perfection.

Which VR headset to pick?

There's one more thing worth keeping in mind when it comes to the VR aspect of this game. Even though the company has confirmed that Half-Life: Alyx will be compatible with all PC VR headsets via Steam, those who are looking to experience the new installment in the legendary series in its full glory, will need to play on Valve's Index VR controllers. This is because the Index uses revolutionary controllers that let you grab, drop and throw things. We've seen a glimpse of this feature in the announcement trailer, and if these controllers work as advertised in-game, they will bring a completely new level of immersion to the current VR experience.

The Gear Required to Play Half-Life: Alyx

Since it's a brand new AAA VR game, Alyx will demand a lot of resources from your PC to run properly. So, what exactly do you need, and how much money do you need to cash out to fully enjoy the first Half-Life game in more than a decade? Needless to say, it will demand the most form your graphics card.

To run the game at the lowest possible specs, you will need a gaming PC with at least 6 GB VRAM in a graphics card. In this context, to run the game at max settings without any issues, you will likely need a $1,000+ graphics card, along with a CPU of at least six to eight cores and 16 GB of RAM. On top of this, to enjoy the best possible experience, you will also have to invest your money into the previously mentioned Valve Index VR headset, which is available for around $999.

Despite the very high criteria required to run this game, it seems that Valve will have no trouble in obtaining a large player base for Half-Life: Alyx, as most of their Index VR headsets and controllers, have been sold out following the announcement of the game.

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