Half-Life: Alyx, you might be dismayed to learn, is definitely not Half-Life 3. But it is a new “full-length” Half-Life game, Valve said today, and it’ll be out in March.
In a press release, Valve said the game—first announced earlier this week to surprise, confusion, and memes from fans—has been “designed from the ground up for virtual reality,” but is still very much a Half-Life game in that it features “world exploration, puzzle solving, visceral combat, and an intricately woven story that connects it all with the characters iconic to the Half-Life universe.”
It’s set between the events of Half-Life 1 and 2 and stars Alyx, as the title suggests.
“Alyx Vance and her father Eli secretly mount the resistance to the brutal occupation of Earth by a mysterious alien race known as The Combine,” reads the game’s description. “As Alyx, players take the fight to the Combine to save the future of humanity.”
Despite ostensibly being a killer app for Valve’s own VR headset, the Valve Index, Half-Life: Alyx will be compatible with “all PC-based VR headsets” when it releases in March 2020. Screenshots thus far depict Alyx having hands, which is something that was technically already canon, but now her hands are your hands, and you get to use items like the enticingly named “gravity gloves.” If they are not somehow involved in a game of fetch with Dog, I’ll eat a Vortigaunt.
Update, 1:15 PM ET: In an interview with IGN, Valve designer and programmer Robin Walker said that some former members of Firewatch studio Campo Santo—hired by Valve last year ostensibly to continue working on their next game, In The Valley of Gods—are working on Half-Life: Alyx.
“Some members of the former Campo Santo studio are on the team, and they’ve brought the storytelling skill they honed in Firewatch to bear on Half-Life: Alyx,” said Walker. “But in that regard, they’re like the rest of us at Valve—people who played Half-Life 1 & 2, took parts of it into their own games, honed those parts into something even better, and are now bringing that knowledge back to what inspired them in the first place.”
The current status of In The Valley of Gods is unclear.
Walker also said that Alyx is roughly the same length as Half-Life 2, which puts it at around 13-15 hours long.
Meanwhile, The Game Awards host and Death Stranding main character Geoff Keighley released a video interview with members of the Half-Life: Alyx team in which they discuss the game’s origins as an exploration of VR mechanics (rather than setting out to create a new Half-Life, specifically) and why it’s not Half-Life 3.
“Back in 2016 when we started this, Half-Life was just terrifying. So Half-Life 3 was a terrifying, daunting prospect,” said Walker. “And I think, to some extent, VR was a way we could fool ourselves into believing we had a way to do this… The way the gravity gun helped us in Half-Life 2, it became the tentpole you could wrap so much around. So VR became this thing we could wrap everything around. Whereas Half-Life 3, if it’s like ‘Tomorrow you’re working on Half-Life 3,’ [then] it’s like ‘Oh god.’”
During the interview, Valve also confirmed that Valve veterans like Portal 2 writers Erik Wolpaw and Jay Pinkerton—both of whom departed Valve back in 2017—have been working on Half-Life: Alyx, as well.
“It was really easy to recruit for this project, surprisingly enough,” said Valve level designer Dario Casali with a chuckle.