There are a lot of virtual reality (VR) fans excited for the release of potentially the biggest videogame of 2020, Valve’s Half-Life: Alyx. Due to arrive in a couple of months, the normally highly secretive company took to Reddit for an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session to answer a few questions from the community, addressing issues like possible delays whilst keeping things light and jovial – “any questions you have about Half-Life story spoilers will be handed over to Erik Wolpaw, who will lie to you,” notes the intro. So here’s a roundup of all the interesting bits from the Q&A.
One of the biggest worries for any gamer looking forward to a big videogame like Half-Life: Alyx being released is that of delays. Addressing that very question the team stated: “With the exception of some tweaks to the absolute final scene, the game is done. Lots of us at Valve, as well as playtesters, have played through the entire game multiple times.
“Right now we’re primarily polishing and fixing bugs, which is where we’d hope to be at this point in the development cycle. We’re confident we’ll hit our intended release. (We let the Valve Time happen before we announced the game.)”
Delving into the mechanics of Half-Life: Alyx a little more, the team address questions relating to movement and traversing this new world: “Our locomotion and comfort features are all done, including things like Seated, Left-Handed mode, etc. We have almost all our accessibility work done as well, but there’s a little bit more we’d like to do there (support for one armed play, for instance).”
“Because the game includes the ability to mantle in continuous motion, you don’t need often need to jump. For instance, if you need to get past an obstacle like a crate, you mantle up rather than jump up. The only time you need to jump is to traverse a short gap, which happens very rarely. We tried a few iterations of jumping, but ultimately found that even in continuous motion, players preferred dealing with those jumps with a teleport-style movement.”
As the Half-Life series is primarily a first-person shooter (FPS), Half-Life: Alyx is keeping to the formula so weapons play an integral part: “Our weapons all require only one hand, but they can be optionally grabbed and steadied by your offhand. We really wanted to focus on simultaneous two handed play throughout the game, so we needed the player to always be able to easily have a free hand. We keep that hand pretty busy with gravity gloves, movement, world interactions, flashlight, and so on.
“We have a few systems for inventory and weapon selection, all designed with the goal of keeping the players eyes on the environment as much as possible. We have an ‘over the shoulder’ contextual inventory system for ammo on your off hand, Your weapon hand has a quick weapon select feature, and we have a couple of wrist bags for some of the other items.”
But how much Half-Life: Alyx will there be, a short two-hour blast or a huge campaign? The team had this to say: “Playtesters have taken a similar amount of time to complete Half-Life: Alyx as they did to complete Half-Life 2. The games are comparable in terms of total amount of content.” So get playing that free copy of Half-Life 2 on Steam.
The series is loved the world over so for fans who don’t natively speak English: “We will be doing subtitles at launch for ten total languages: English, French, German, Spanish-Spain, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Spanish-Latin America, and Traditional Chinese. VO in other languages is something we’re still considering.”
While screenshots are good actual video gameplay is better and it will be coming: “Yes, it’s our plan to release gameplay videos in the leadup to launch. Our intention is to use these to showcase not just gameplay elements, but also VR-specific elements like different movement options.”
And of course, Half-Life: Alyx AMA would be complete without mentioning the important subject of trains…: “It’s actually illegal to ship a Half-Life game if you don’t spend at least a little time riding in a train.”
Valve has yet to confirm an actual launch date for Half-Life: Alyx, just that it’ll arrive sometime in March. When further details arise, VRFocus will let you know.