“It was very clear from those first experiments that VR was going to be very fertile ground for Half-Life,” says programmer Robin Walker.
The looming launch of Half-Life: Alyx is a major, major deal, not only because it represents the return of Half-Life after more than a decade-long hiatus and supposedly a major part of the series’ larger narrative, but also because Valve are going all-in on virtual reality with this game. Half-Life: Ayx being a VR exclusive has rubbed a few people the wrong way, but it’s still an exciting prospect to see such a major game going for a full-fledged AAA experience putting all its eggs in the VR basket.
And according to Valve’s Robin Walker, programmer on Half-Life: Alyx, the developer decided very early on that the series and its primary mechanics would be a perfect fit for VR. Not just that, Walker also says that virtual reality has opened up a lot of exciting new avenues for Half-Life as a series, while still retaining the core essence of the franchise.
“Our prototype work on this project began by simply taking assets and systems from Half-Life 2 into VR,” said Walker in an interview with Game Informer. “That was a very quick route to getting some deep mechanical exploration up and running in the engine. But as it turned out, Half-Life’s set of mechanics was a surprisingly natural fit for VR, even before any of the necessary work was done to deeply integrate them into the medium.”
“It was very clear from those first experiments that VR was going to be very fertile ground for Half-Life,” he continued. “So in the simplest sense, the game feels like Half-Life because it is Half-Life. VR has opened up a lot of new avenues to expand Half-Life’s existing framework as well as introduce plenty of brand-new ideas, but those underlying bones are unmistakable.”
Given that Half-Life: Alyx is very likely not going to be the last game in the series, it should be interesting to see if Valve will stick with VR for future instalments as well, especially if Alyx proves to be successful from a critical and commercial standpoint.
Half-Life: Alyx is out for PC on March 23, with support for the Valve Index (which will be getting restocked soon), HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Windows Mixed Reality. Valve recently released plenty of new gameplay footage- check it out through here.