Half-Life: Alyx Score
We predict Half-Life: Alyx to run away for VR game of the year in 2020. While there are many great VR games released already this year and future titles ahead, there's just something truly special about this new Valve title.
Let’s back up a little bit in the timeline to where Half-Life originally started. From the dungeons in Washington, a resounding figure named Gabe Newell started a company in 1996 that we all know as Valve today. The company was created as a game studio and further became a digital distribution company.
From there, the team published the first iteration of Half-Life in 1998 with Half-Life 2 launching in 2004. Since then, we’ve only seen minor updates with several chapters releasing. But now we finally get to see the full-blown version with Half-Life: Alyx launching in virtual reality.
Half-Life: Alyx takes place in between events of Half-Life and Half-Life 2. Playing as Alyx Vance, you are humanity’s only chance for survival. The Combine’s control of the planet since the Black Mesa incident has only strengthened as they corral the remaining population in cities. Among them are some of Earth’s greatest scientists: you and your father, Dr. Eli Vance.
As founders of a fledgling resistance, you’ve continued your clandestine scientific activity—performing critical research, and building invaluable tools for the few humans brave enough to defy the Combine.
Your essential duty is to eliminate the vicious Combine aliens.
For the gameplay itself, Valve did a terrific job in harnessing new technology with the familiar gameplay we know and love of the franchise. The game provides an important feeling to exploration while tugging on our curiosity side with a variety of puzzles.
But you can’t forget the combat side of it neither.
Combat is truly entertaining and fun in Half-Life: Alyx with the way the Valve team has designed the game. While the first 2 games relied on mouse tracking, HL:A offers a more immersive feeling in combat due to the motion sensor controllers.
Whether you’re playing on the Vive, Index, or Rift, you will notice that you have to actually aim precisely to get your shots with your hands. The shots are more meaningful in this game as enemies feel more “relentless.”
But if you are familiar with VR already, you will get the hang of things rather quickly.
The weapons themselves are not something out of this world per say. You will find your typical arsenal with pistols, grenades, etc. There isn’t a huge variety of weapons available.
But if you’ve have played FPS games before then you will know how to operate the guns in this game.
I also applaud the team in how they’ve been able to put together such a great physics-based environment into the game. You will notice just how fluid the motions are in battle and its similarities in quality to Boneworks in that manner.
HL:A supports many sets of movement options. This includes teleportation, locomotion, and dash. If you are unfamiliar with the different movement types here’s a quick breakdown.
Teleportation: You aim at a target location to teleport there. But this is limited and you must find your way around obstacles and puzzles. You can’t just beam somewhere the game doesn’t intend you to.
Locomotion: You move around smoothly like you are running or walking.
Dash: Quick pace movement
They all have their unique traits and takeaways so this will be up to what you prefer.
For the most part, you won’t find much trouble with playing in room-scale settings. There will be instances where the game makes you reach and duck but for the most part we found that the game was designed well with VR in mind.
There are so many hidden details throughout Half-Life: Alyx with the way you can interact with objects and environments. You can grab so many unique items, toss them, break them, etc. And with the combination of VR HL:A just feels so much more alive.
While the game is close to flawless as many of other Valve games, Half-Life: Alyx can use a little more variety to weapons (more than 3 different guns) and some more variety to enemies.
While the enemies aren’t as populated in the first two games, you will find that they are more meaningful and a little more scary from the past two titles.
From the moment you walk into City 17 to the ending credits, you will be stricken by the immense story that unfolds in this world. Hope is still alive and you are the one that needs to ring the bell. Go and do it.