Valve Still Can’t Count to Three, An Honest Look at ‘Half-Life: Alyx’


Ray Gill, Student Writer

Note: All the information contained in this article is public information and should not lead to any spoilers f0r the game, Half-Life: Alyx.

Steam, developed by the Valve Corporation, has been well-known for years for their popular games, Portal, Left 4 Dead, and Half-Life. These series were produced with intriguing stories, gameplay unlike other games and overall fun re-playability. Gamers have asked for years for sequels to each of these franchises, though these sequel releases have come quite late. Eventually, Steam delivered years later in the form of Portal 2, released in 2011, Left 4 Dead 2 in 2009 and Half-Life 2 in 2004. It is with the elusive Half-Life 3 wherein the problem has remained for the last 15 years. There had been no updates for any release for a third title in the series, even though gamers have long anticipated it. 

There’s been a lot of controversy throughout the years behind a request for a third sequel to the Half-Life series. Reasons on Valve Corporation’s behalf spanned from halted development with staffing problems, lack of funding due to shifts in other projects and even petty reactions from the corporation to being mocked for not being able to count to three. Finally, when it seems that the corporation might be able to figure out what comes after two, they decided to come out with a halfway game between Half-Life and Half-Life 2 in the means of a virtual reality version in Half-Life: Alyx rather than a Half-Life 3.


Limitations on Gameplay

Many fans are excited about the next release in this ongoing franchise even if the game isn’t a third sequel, but several concerns follow. “Half-Life: Alyx” has been featured with outstanding graphics, fascinating gameplay and what alludes to be an interesting story — all of this information regarding the game is based on public information in the form of trailers and released information by the organization. Though, the title is limited to only virtual reality gameplay. Virtual reality enters into a small player base. Only certain gamers can withstand playing with virtual reality peripherals — and even then some players can only play for a limited time before getting dizzy or the headset feeling too heavy over an extended period of time. 

Most gamers who have experienced a Half-Life game are PC gamers, but with the game series imported to consoles, the franchise had gathered a larger following. Half-Life: Alyx, however, is going to be limited to virtual reality only supported by PC play. This is the reason why so many gamers were disappointed, not just with Half-Life: Alyx being an in-between game, but also with no console play.


Virtual Reality

The Valve Corporation might be making a big mistake with choosing only virtual reality for Half-Life: Alyx’s playability as virtual reality has seemingly been a dying product. Many good games have been released with virtual reality capability such as Resident Evil 7: Biohazard and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, but these games were playable without virtual reality. With virtual reality headsets and other required gear being expensive while still needing a PC to play the equipment through, the organization might be stretching too far for success. 

Why would Valve Corporation’s next full-length entry in the Half-Life series be only for virtual reality with the series possibly only hitting a niche market? The reason could lie in promoting their recently released virtual reality headset. Those who have Valve Corporation’s Index virtual reality headset will get Half-Life: Alyx for free, owning their version of a virtual reality headset to play the game. Getting the game for free while owning their virtual reality equipment is an incentive. However, owning their equipment isn’t necessary to play the title since it will be supported by any PC based virtual reality gear. Valve Corporation had stated that they built the system in a virtual reality environment because it is more fitting to the “Half-Life” experience. Though, all of this is really up in the air at this point.


Don’t Get Swept Away

Viewing the trailer for Half-Life: Alyx, the virtual reality environment seems easy to navigate. Interactions with the environment while using the virtual reality gear also appear to be incredibly smooth and accurate. The game is definitely creating hype and may make several gamers cough up the cash to purchase the necessary equipment in order to play the game. Remember though, developers choose their pre-game trailer scenes to be nothing but the best with trailers consisting of mostly cinematics. The trailer does include some in-game footage, most of it seems to be pre-scripted scenes. We can make the conclusion that this game will only remain a virtual reality PC game. This means that consoles will never get a port that already limits its player base.


Despite all this, Half-Life: Alyx will still be a full-fledged Half-Life title. The first one to be released in over a decade-and-a-half. When the Valve Corporation works on a full-length game, they always come out making a big hit. Portal, Left 4 Dead and Half-Life have all been superb releases with each being a huge success. Though, it’s been a while since they’ve made a game, Dota 2 in 2013. We can only hope they haven’t gotten rusty and Half-Life: Alyx turns out to be another great title. We shouldn’t have too much concern about the game when it releases March of next year, except for the market the organization is targeting. The market might be too small for them to be convinced that can finally count to three.

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