Valve explains why Half-Life: Alyx is VR-only, this is just the start of Half-Life’s return

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Half-Life: Alyx

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For gamers without an obscene amount of cash taking up precious space in their wallets, the news that Half-Life: Alyx would be a VR-exclusive no doubt caused its fair share of disappointment. Here we are, waiting, well, half our lives for a new Half-Life, and along comes a version targeted at a comparatively microscopic audience. It’s frustrating, for sure, but Valve also felt it was a necessary step in order to truly push the Half-Life franchise forward in a meaningful way. 

Speaking to The Verge, Valve programmer David Speyer how the experimentation with both the Half-Life franchise and VR has opened up many potential new avenues for the Half-Life series, breathing new hope into an eventual Half-Life 3.

When asked whether this means we can expect to see more Half-Life titles, Speyrer said “Yes. It’s probably no surprise that many people at Valve have been wanting to get back to the Half-Life universe for a long time, and this experience has only reinforced that.

“In the process of creating Half-Life: Alyx, we’ve had to explore new ways to tell stories with these characters and this world, and we’ve discovered a lot of new gameplay experiences that go beyond what we’ve been able to do before. Of course, we’ll have to wait and see how people react to Half-Life: Alyx once it’s out, but we’d love to continue pushing forward.”

Of course, in the here and now it’s all about Half-Life Alyx, and if you’re clinging onto a faint hope that there’ll eventually be a standard ‘flat’ version, then it’s probably time to let you down gently. Half-Life: Alyx is a virtual reality exclusive. It’s been designed from the ground up for VR and motion controls and it just won’t be possible to create a non-VR version of the eagerly anticipated game. 

“We would love to be delivering a version of this that you could play with a mouse and a keyboard,” said Valve’s Dario Casali during a chat with Geoff Keighley. “But as we said, it began as an exploration of VR. The more we used the controllers and the headset, the amount of possibilities these things give us, the more we realized that there’s so much opportunity that we can’t really translate back to the keyboard.”

As such, you’re absolutely going to need a PC VR headset if you want to play Half-Life Alyx. The premium option would be Valve’s Index headset but, at $999 for the full package, it certainly isn’t cheap. Fortunately, HL Alyx will be compatible with most dedicate PC virtual reality HMDs, the cheapest of which would be either the Oculus Quest plus a link cable, or the Oculus Quest, for $399. These include Oculus Touch controllers for motion control. At $400 it’s definitely not cheap but, aside from second-hand hardware, it’s just about the cheapest way to play Half-Life: Alyx at this point.