My dear VR “komrades” (as in Red Matter), finally we have a release date for Half-Life: Alyx! The day that the VR world will halt is March, 23rd. That day, the VR apocalypse will start and I guess that no one is going to work. It is a Monday, so sleep well on Sunday 22nd, and do a gaming marathon on Monday 23rd! Are you ready?
Half-Life: Alyx, available March 23, 2020 https://t.co/NCOLWqSp3e pic.twitter.com/Q04EZwNfBt— Valve (@valvesoftware) February 13, 2020
If you need a quick reminder of what Half-Life: Alyx is: it is the new episode of the Half-Life saga, the first one after 12 years of waiting. It will be available only for VR headsets, and only on Steam. Compatibility will be guaranteed with all PC VR headsets, including the standalone ones attached to PC (Oculus Quest via Link and Vive Focus Plus via Viveport Streaming).
It is not the Half-Life 3 we were all waiting for, but an episode set between Half-Life 1 and Half-Life 2, and you won’t impersonate Gordon Freeman, but Alyx Vance, a character that is central in Half-Life 2.
This is the plot as described by Valve.
Set between the events of Half-Life and Half-Life 2, Alyx Vance and her father Eli mount an early resistance to the Combine’s brutal occupation of Earth.
The loss of the Seven-Hour War is still fresh. In the shadow of a rising Combine fortress known as the Citadel, residents of City 17 learn to live under the rule of their invaders. But among this scattered population are two of Earth’s most resourceful scientists: Dr. Eli Vance and his daughter Alyx, the founders of a fledgling resistance.
You are Alyx Vance, and you’re about to spark a revolution
You and your father were relocated to City 17. In the years since, you’ve continued your clandestine scientific activity—performing critical research, and building invaluable tools for the few humans brave enough to defy the Combine.
Every day you learn more about your enemy, and every day you work toward finding a weakness.
If the plot sounds cool, what will be even cooler will be the interactions: the game has been carefully studied so that the interactions in VR will appear realistic enough for the game to feel immersive, but not too much to be sure that the game is not frustrating. Valve has promised us a new kind of VR interactions that will change how we interact with virtual worlds, and we can’t wait to try them. Valve has always innovated with its Half-Life titles, and we are sure that this game won’t be an exception. And while the game will be compatible with all the headsets, only the lucky one having a Valve Index will be able to exploit these novel interactions at their best.
I was forgetting: the game costs €50, and if you preorder it, it costs only €45. But Index owners will get it for free.
As always, Valve has made the launch announcement on Twitter, as you can see above. Together with the launch date, it also unveiled other interesting info.
First of all, we have 3 new screenshots. They are marvelous and show the very high-quality graphics that we can expect from this game, plus the classical Half-Life vibes. I love them. Have a look here:
Valve has also stated that “Pre-Order bonuses for anyone who has purchased a Valve Index will start rolling out the week of March 2nd, beginning with Steam VR Home environments inspired by locations in Half-Life: Alyx”. I can’t wait to try them as well.
You may know that the Index is sold-out everywhere, and Road To VR confirms that it is not available in all regions of the world, with the exception of Japan, where the “Headset only” package has still some availability. This means that anyone that wants to buy an Index to play this game at its best, either has to give up, or it has to buy an overpriced device sold by first parties. Valve has commented on the news saying just that “We will have more information on upcoming Valve Index availability soon“.
This makes us think that they have some aces up their sleeves regarding Index manufacturing. We all know that Valve started manufacturing the Index in the US, but then it probably sought the help of some Chinese manufacturers (someone says Goertek, but it is just a rumor) to ramp up the production. This has created some problems with the reliability of Index components, and now, with the Chinese New Year vacations plus all the mess with the Corona Virus, it is also creating big problems regarding availability. Chinese companies have big difficulties in these days both in producing devices (many companies are still closed) and in shipping them (everyone is buying online, so shipping companies are clogged). It is so probable that Valve will increment production in the US, or move it to some other country while the virus emergency lasts. For sure Valve can’t afford to stop selling the Index now that there will be the biggest demand, so I’m sure it will find a solution. Let’s see what will happen.
I have already written a long post detailing why in my opinion this game can be fundamental for VR. I advise you to read it, but to keep it short, the main reasons are:
- It is increasing awareness towards VR a lot (all mainstream gaming media are talking about it);
- It is increasing sales of VR headsets a lot;
- It will probably show us new interactions in XR that will affect the UX of many games after it.
It is one of those disruptive events that may have unpredictable (positive) effects on the market, and that’s why in my predictions for 2020, I highlighted the launch of this game as one of the moments that may change everything. I still think that VR won’t become mainstream this year, but I think that it’s not something that is impossible anymore.
I can’t wait for March, 23rd. That day, probably I will stream my terrible gaming skills while I play this game, also to make people not having a VR headset to discover how it is! Do you like this idea?
Let me also know what are you going to do on March, 23rd in the comments section or on my social media! Are you going for a sick leave at work?
(Header Image by Valve Software)
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