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Half-Life: Alyx - VR - it actually happened

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From Valve Software themselves, their brand new VR title is ready to be unveiled, as none other than a title called Half-Life: Alyx, a spin-off to a series thought to be long forgotten.

Look out for Thursday 22nd, at 10AM Pacific Time.

 

What do you think this game would look or be like? This is Valve's flagship VR title, the one they feel will shift units and drive innovation, so what might come of it?

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It's not even really Half-Life 3.  Therefore, with this being a spinoff,  it's likely not going to address the cliffhanger that fans have been waiting to see resolved.

It being VR-exclusive cuts out wuite a lot of the fanbase who have been waiting for a new installment. 

This could very well be one of the most tone deaf moves that Vslve has done. And that's saying something, considering how they've managed Steam.

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Bloody hell, this is gonna be VR's Mario 64 and you guys are down on it being a "VR spinoff". For shame, fellas.

Valve have been working on this thing for years. They've been singlehandedly writing the book on how to make a premiere VR game, along with engineering the top-tier VR hardware, and on the software side, this game is gonna show the fruits of their labors. This isn't gonna be merely a spinoff, this'll be an event on the level that Half Life 2 was.

No, it's probably not gonna resolve the cliffhanger. But if Valve News Network (who have been spot-on about this project for years) and a certain former Valve employee posting over at ResetERA are correct, this is gonna be the game that makes everyone wish they had a VR headset. Valve are aiming to showcase what VR can do and make VR's killer app, they are willing to take a hit to do so.

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4 hours ago, Candescence said:

Bloody hell, this is gonna be VR's Mario 64 and you guys are down on it being a "VR spinoff"

It's also what precisely noone wanted. VALVe's not in good standing with the broader gaming community as it is for a lot of unrelated stuff going on, never mind that we've been sitting on a cliffhanger for 12 years. Regardless of the game's quality, keep in mind that this thing is coming out after a hiatus that's even longer than the one between Half Life 1 & 2. It has big boots to fill, no matter if it wants to or not.

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16 hours ago, Candescence said:

Bloody hell, this is gonna be VR's Mario 64 and you guys are down on it being a "VR spinoff". For shame, fellas.

Or it's gonna be like every VR game so far: interesting and mildly fun at first, but after the novelty wears of you'd rather just play a normal game while relaxing in a couch/chair.

Also, as a hugely profitable company, Valve could have easily afforded to work on an old-school sequel to finish off the story while also working on their gimmicky VR game. It's not like they have been doing much lately when it comes to actual video games. The fact they rather chose the gimmicky prequel spinoff tells me they don't really give a crap about what their fans have been asking for for more than a decade.
 

16 hours ago, Candescence said:

This isn't gonna be merely a spinoff, this'll be an event on the level that Half Life 2 was.

Not really. With Half-Life 2, they showed what you can achive in a regular video game. Besides a PC to be able to run it, you didn't need anything else (as it's true for most games). With this, the message is "Look what you can experience if you spend another $999!"

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Been waiting four years for a game that will finally be the one that will turn VR into a legitimate killer gaming experience; the true next level in the medium that "waggle the Wiimote to simulate just pressing B on a Gamecube controller" never came close to unless you *really* liked Wii Sports Resort.

 

This is the first game that may very well be so, and the first game Valve has made since... what? L4D2? I legitimately don't even know. Valve, the videogame developer, not Valve the apathetic media distributor. The first game that Valve will actually supposedly throw their full weight behind after shadow supporting VR since Oculus debuted. And the deafening response is "who cares VR sucks."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What a true shame, the damage that has been done to the concept by the dozens of cash in indie developers and Sony.

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The game looks astounding, and I desperately want it, but I just... legitimately probably can't afford to play this game.  I'll DEFINITELY need to buy a new PC because my current one doesn't even meet the minumum specs.  Pretty bummed out tbh.  I could probably afford to get a new PC and literally the cheapest VR headset option available but if I'm not getting the experience as intended by the developers with the full quality of Valve's own VR kit, I'm a bit like, "what's the point", it really has to be all or nothing for a game as special as this.

3 months is a fair amount of time for that situation to change, but right now I'm just mentally preparing myself for the idea that I will have to avoid spoilers for several years and I'll eventually play this when the Steam Index and the game alike have been out and made obselete long enough to become Steam Summer Sale fodder.

I guess more than anything I'm just disappointed because I kinda switched off my attention from VR but I felt like I was quietly seeing articles now and then about how VR was becoming more affordable and accessible.  Then I look at the Steam VR kit and see that it'd cost £1000 to get this game if they weren't giving it away free with said VR kit.

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So why didn't they called it Half-Life 3 then? Or at worst, Half-Life 2: Episode Alyx?
You know, aside from fearing the backlash of people who aren't interested in getting a VR set (money avaibility or not) because the next main installment of a series they may love to death is being relegated to a gimmik.

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2 hours ago, Teoskaven said:

So why didn't they called it Half-Life 3 then? Or at worst, Half-Life 2: Episode Alyx?
You know, aside from fearing the backlash of people who aren't interested in getting a VR set (money avaibility or not) because the next main installment of a series they may love to death is being relegated to a gimmik.

"Episode" would imply a short game (it isn't), and Half-Life 3 would imply a full continuation (neither).

If you actually watched the Last Hours video above (which explains a ton about how this project came about), Valve aren't keen on doing Half-Life 3 because the expectations are ridiculously overwhelming, but they also realized a Half-Life game is the best fit for their first "AAA" VR title. So this was the most reasonable compromise.

As for "relegated to a gimmick", Valve don't see it that way. They see VR as the future of gaming. And I'm legitimately inclined to agree.

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14 minutes ago, Candescence said:

As for "relegated to a gimmick", Valve don't see it that way. They see VR as the future of gaming. And I'm legitimately inclined to agree.

"Future of gaming" huh? I'll admit, I find that to be a term used a bit too much. And often ends up describing gimmicky game changes that end up with egg on their face (I'm looking at you Stadia and original XBox One).

The point is that yes, VR, is nice, but it's never really been good enough to justify bring VR exclusive when essentially,  it's a glorified first person viewpoint. And making the next Half-Lufe installment,  something the franchise's fans have been endlessly waiting for, locked behind not just the purchase of a new console, but also a new expensive peripheral does seem to be the latest in the bevy of tone-deaf moves Valve have made.

Game doesn't really look enticing enough if you ask me.

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7 hours ago, Teoskaven said:

So why didn't they called it Half-Life 3 then? Or at worst, Half-Life 2: Episode Alyx?

Because it's not a story followup that such a name would imply, and the episode label has fallen out of favor in the industry at large even among developers who still essentially make games that way. Especially with how much of a disaster this very series trying to use it has bitten Valve; which is probably why they went out of their way to say it was not an episode in the link you quoted.

7 hours ago, Teoskaven said:

You know, aside from fearing the backlash of people who aren't interested in getting a VR set (money avaibility or not) because the next main installment of a series they may love to death is being relegated to a gimmik.

Glad you've played it.

 

They didn't make a story sequel to Half Life 3 to this point because they couldn't come up with something to substantially groundbreaking like they had done twice in the past. They burnt themselves out several times attempting to do something to make their mark in the constraints of the medium. They've said outright that VR and PC hardware advancing is what gave them the opportunity to try that; the spark that they needed. All of this has come up since this game was announced. The people who wanted Last Jedi to be Luke killing motherfuckers with a lightsaber for the entire movie were going to bitch regardless as soon as it was clear it wasn't Gordon and Alyx using Portal guns to shoot cinder blocks at zombies on the Borealis for 30 hours.

 

 

 

 

I mean they could just be lying and they are trying to force sales of their VR headset by forcing a Half Life game to it, but I wouldn't think they'd tank their brand reception for a game that will never sell that well anyway.

5 hours ago, Nina Cortex Jovahexeon said:

"Future of gaming" huh? I'll admit, I find that to be a term used a bit too much. And often ends up describing gimmicky game changes that end up with egg on their face (I'm looking at you Stadia and original XBox One).

Not every Wii game was horseshit "waggle to press B" or light gun games, either.

5 hours ago, Nina Cortex Jovahexeon said:

The point is that yes, VR, is nice, but it's never really been good enough to justify bring VR exclusive when essentially,  it's a glorified first person viewpoint.

That seems to be why Valve would put effort into designing a game exclusively around VR instead of just bootstrapping VR on top of Doom 4 or a racing game like the overwhelming majority of the games people have played would have used with PSVR. There's never been a AAA VR-specific experience, for obvious reasons. Acting like this will have to be Superhot or something at best because that's all most of the indie VR-specific games have been to this point is a massive leap.

5 hours ago, Nina Cortex Jovahexeon said:

And making the next Half-Lufe installment,  something the franchise's fans have been endlessly waiting for, locked behind not just the purchase of a new console, but also a new expensive peripheral does seem to be the latest in the bevy of tone-deaf moves Valve have made.

If this game actually substantially pushes the medium forward, as the original game and Half Life 2 both did, those people will have to get over it. Hopefullye it will be ported to the next gen version of PSVR where the barriers will be lower; but if the developer's vision ends up requiring a level of immersion that only VR can provide than I guess it sucks to be the people who aren't interested in that.

If this game actually substantially pushes the medium forward, maybe other developers will put on their big boy pants and try something to move the medium forward instead of "MORE GRAPHICS! MORE CINEMATICS! MORE PRODUCTION VALUES!" every time they are given new hardware to play with and VR will cease to be another gimmick for Sony to copy and milk as a fad.

 

 

 

It also sucks for the people who can't use VR due to motion sickness or headaches or whatnot (though it will be interesting to see if Valve can come up with something to mitigate that), but not every game has to be designed for everyone so long as Valve also recognizes how that will hurt them in terms of sales and such.

5 hours ago, Nina Cortex Jovahexeon said:

Game doesn't really look enticing enough if you ask me.

To be blunt, this is the only criticism in the entire thread that holds any water. "It doesn't look interesting enough so far to justify the barriers to entry" is fine.

"The barriers to entry means this is inherently gimmicky nonsense because all of the VR games so far have either been throwaway indistinguishable indie games or tacked-on support for VR in games that were never designed for it; so this unprecedented AAA VR-exclusive game must be automatically as well" is not.

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Personally, given the choice between Valve games to get a VR game, I honestly would've loved it if Portal got one. I think it would be neat to play Portal's puzzles in VR. 

It's cool to see developers trying to push VR further and evolve it a bit, even if the £1000 price barrier is absolutely ridiculous. I'll be sticking with PS VR for VR gaming, but I'm interested to see where Valve pushes their VR games at least. If it means bigger budget VR titles, and experimentation, it'd be interesting to see where they go from here.

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Yeah I have to say, I'm in the camp that is disappointed that I'm either gonna have to shell out or miss out with the next Half-Life entry, but I also don't think this is a "gimmick".  The trailer makes it VERY clear that this is a game that wouldn't work with traditional controls unless you had a second pair of arms (though something could be said for a version that doesn't require a headset, using a control stick on one controller for movement and a control stick on the other for looking around, but man good luck with that many inputs at once).

As long as they come up with a lot of engaging setpieces that make use of the new controls, it's fair to not call it a gimmick... unless the control stick was also a gimmick that Mario 64 didn't need.  My only frustration is that I wish they had waited until VR was a bit more affordable (granted there are cheaper options, but I'm kind of afraid to have a sub-par experience with a non-Steam VR kit).

Considering that the previous Half-Life games were all superbly optimised and could run on machines decently even below minimum spec, it's a real shame the new entry suddenly has a really high fence to clear of minimum requirements.

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I think it's kind of disappointing that Valve went with a story-driven series for their flagship VR title, thereby locking out many fans who have been asking for the next major entry for years, and will have to either avoid spoilers or look up information about it second-hand if they are unable to play it. I agree that Portal might have been a better choice for that reason*, and while I'm not an avid HL fan I sympathize with those who want to experience the next chapter for themselves but are unable to due to lacking a VR device.

 

*and even if you make the next Portal game story-focused like 2 was, at the very least the first two games wrapped up Chell's story quite nicely and a VR title would have been very much its own self-contained thing, which would make the lockout less painful than a full-blown new HL title in a series infamous for its unresolved storyline

**and I get it, Half-Life is a much, much bigger deal than Portal and I know the logistics behind why they're making HL VR over any other Valve IP - Half-Life is the game that absolutely will push VR units in ways that no other game can - but for fans invested in the story but for one reason or another literally cannot play it when it comes out it's undeniably disappointing for them

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I'm probably not going to be able to play it both due to my computer not being good enough and the prohibitive cost of VR, but as both a game and a proof of concept for how VR can be implemented to deliver high quality, AAA titles, I will definitely be watching the progress on this game very closely.  I really excited to see how this turns out.

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There's a specific reason Valve didn't go with Portal when they were deciding on what to actually do to make the VR prototypes they were working with that would eventually become this game, and they said it themselves - it would be nauseating as all fuck. Valve have done plenty with the Portal stuff in its VR tech demos. At some point while working on their AAA VR project, they decided Half-Life would be best suited for it. Simple as that. The game didn't actually start off as a Half-Life game.

Also FFS you do not need the Valve Index for this game. Any reasonably decent PCVR headset will work just fine. The Samsung Odyssey+ WMR headset is on sale on Amazon for about $230 USD right now. Sure, the tracking isn't amazing but the controllers are better than the Vive and the headset itself is really fucking good in terms of visual quality. You want an entry-level VR headset that's of sound quality? Buy the Odyssey+.

Side-note if you're willing to spend about $200 more, the Quest is also good for being able to play some games entirely wirelessly, but you'll either need a 5G wifi connection to play PC VR games wirelessly as well, or a cable to use with Quest Link. Both of which have their own downsides and compromises. You're not gonna get a wireless experience both for cheap and without some kind of major visual compromise or latency.

 

10 hours ago, JezMM said:

Considering that the previous Half-Life games were all superbly optimised and could run on machines decently even below minimum spec, it's a real shame the new entry suddenly has a really high fence to clear of minimum requirements.

To be fair, even if HL2 was really well optimized, let's not forget that Half-Life as a series used to be Crysis before Crysis was a thing, they basically demanded that most people upgrade their PCs. Half-Life was the killer app for graphics cards as a general concept, and Half-Life 2 was such a graphical leap forward that it made the original Xbox fucking cry.

With this game, the requirements are increased mainly because not only does the requirements for VR right now increase due to stereoscopic rendering and high-FOV and above HD displays, but also because 60FPS is the bare fucking minimum. And I do say bare minimum, at least 90FPS is the rough bar to ensure that the framerate isn't gonna make you nauseous. You can't get away with just 30 FPS like you would on console. And with such high fidelity, you need high requirements to maintain a high, smooth framerate.

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Even $200 is prohibitively expensive for me lol. The older I get the more cheapskatey I am when it comes to games. It's gonna be a really long time before I get to the point where I can start to think about looking into buying a VR device

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11 hours ago, Candescence said:

Half-Life was the killer app for graphics cards as a general concept

This is a little bit before my time as a PC player, but Half Life was one of many many games that all came out at around the same time that all benefitted from hardware acceleration. What the original Half Life was not (that some contemporary games actually were) was a game that required hardware acceleration to play.

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, and Half-Life 2 was such a graphical leap forward that it made the original Xbox fucking cry.

This, however, is after I got into PC gaming; and from first hand experience (I built my first computer to play it) I can say this isn't comparable.

First of all, Doom III (and to a lesser extent, Far Cry appropriately) was the Crysis equivalent of the time. It was far more demanding than Half Life 2 was, was technically more impressive than Half Life 2 was, and was better looking (albeit with an ugly art style) than Half Life 2.

Second, Half Life 2 was dramatically friendlier to shitty systems than the above two games were. Valve went out of their way to make it run well enough on DirectX 7 if you had fallen for nVidia's shitty business practices of the time and gotten saddled with a GeForce MX card; and the main common complaint about Half Life 2 performance were the infamous Source loading times.

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Portal VR would be a terrible idea because of motion sickness. It didn't take me long to realize that and Valve themselves even confirm it's why they didn't go through with it and picked Half Life instead in Geoff's interview. 

I'm not a huge half life fan but I can say as a Portal fan I feel like I dodged a bullet. I'm impressed with this game from a technical standpoint but I'm glad the next entry in the series isn't locked behind such a huge financial barrier.

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5 hours ago, Candescence said:

To be fair, even if HL2 was really well optimized, let's not forget that Half-Life as a series used to be Crysis before Crysis was a thing, they basically demanded that most people upgrade their PCs. Half-Life was the killer app for graphics cards as a general concept, and Half-Life 2 was such a graphical leap forward that it made the original Xbox fucking cry.

With this game, the requirements are increased mainly because not only does the requirements for VR right now increase due to stereoscopic rendering and high-FOV and above HD displays, but also because 60FPS is the bare fucking minimum. And I do say bare minimum, at least 90FPS is the rough bar to ensure that the framerate isn't gonna make you nauseous. You can't get away with just 30 FPS like you would on console. And with such high fidelity, you need high requirements to maintain a high, smooth framerate.

I will say now that I think about it my opinion of HL2's performance is prolly worth writing off since I jumped on at the Orange Box stage lol. Like I always think of it as being really accessible since I was playing on a non-gaming laptop, but it was still a laptop from THAT era of computing. Episode 2 and Portal chugged a little during intensive scenes even on low settings but HL2 and Ep1 ran perfectly, which was a surprise treat for me considering my first foray into PC gaming, BioShock, was full of graphical glitches and other garbage on said laptop.

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