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

Written by Jon Sutton on Fri, Nov 22, 2019 2:24 PM
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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.

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22:43 Nov-23-2019

Gamers: We don't want VR because there aren't many good games for it.
Valve: Makes a promising full length Half Life game for VR.
Gamers: Why is Half Life in VR? I don't want it.


Logic. It doesn't exist.

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23:04 Nov-23-2019

I can understand why. If this game came out when VR launched people would've trusted it more.

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01:03 Nov-24-2019

It is tad bit more complicated than that. If this was new franchise or at least active one, people would greet it with open hands. But starve people by not releasing new game in amazing series for more than decade and then release it but put in the high entry point by requiring VR, that is totally another story. Since it creates high entry point for game that a lot of people really want to play.

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01:05 Nov-24-2019

Basically people don't like to be forced to do something or get something. Same was true when HL2 required Steam and many were unhappy. Same was true when Epic came with their store. And same is true here. Plus it makes things worse, because HL franchise was something we had and was now taken away and people will be always more angry if something they already had is taken away.

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01:06 Nov-24-2019

Valve could easily avoid this by making first HL game after all those years for regular PCs, so people are busy and VR title would be just nice side addition. But no, instead Valve decided to go with VR, apparently because that gives them excuse if game isn't good enough according to interview, but I still thing Gabe just wants to sell VR and make it more of a thing.

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01:22 Nov-24-2019

Absolutely. This is a VR exclusive exactly because Valve has a foot in VR hardware. But say we are loosing something? They never said HL is from now on a VR only exclusive franchise. It's set in the same universe as a spin off game, a prequel, and I'm personally not bothered by it at all, nor would've I honestly been if it were HL3.

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04:32 Nov-24-2019

I mean no one is putting a gun to your head and telling you to buy it? So I mean if you want to play it buy the required hardware to play it? if you don't want to cool skip it.

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10:20 Nov-24-2019

Valve themselves has explained that if the game was made just with keyboard and mouse, it'll be very limited experience. Instead of crying about it being VR only, you should be grateful that there is something there at all.


And no, Valve hasn't been sitting on their asses doing nothing either. Yes they make the Valve index. But it doesn't matter. You can use any VR headset with many different ways to play the game to reduce as much motion sickness as possible.

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20:48 Nov-22-2019

So basically they will release more HL games for VR, because they want to push VR sales. Of course, because why would you do something for your fans who were with you since early days, if you can just use it to sell new milking cow called VR... I guess there will be more HL games I will never play, because I don't want VR.

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16:38 Nov-22-2019

my problem with VR is not the price i just dont like it, i mean its great for porn but out of that nah i preffer to play game and know that i am playing a game, tho Oasis and SAO kind of VR i am wellcome for

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19:40 Nov-22-2019

Ok then don't play the game.

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20:35 Nov-22-2019

you dont say

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19:40 Nov-22-2019

I've caught myself a bunch of times forgetting that i'm even in VR, its a really fun and trippy experience but i can't say its for everyone, so if ya don't like vr then this isnt gunna be a great experience for you.

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20:46 Nov-22-2019

I mean that's fair. I don't think it's better for porn than games but to each his own. What I don't kinda get is that you imply that it's too real or immersive that you don't feel like you're playing a game but then you say that's exactly what you'd want from it?

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21:09 Nov-22-2019

i cant explain it, i want to know that i am playing a game but i also want that kind of vr where you feel like you are completlly in a game

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05:13 Nov-24-2019

Game...START! VR Noises

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15:07 Nov-22-2019

All these people complaining about not being able to afford a vr headset, if your that strapped for cash buy it second hand from ebay i got my headset with 2 controllers without a base station for 125$, you are entirely misinformed about the starting point to enter vr, there are hundreds or vr options out there ranging from super low end(using your phone and wii remotes) or geting mixed reality, and the standard vive headsets fyi you don't need 2 base stations to use a vive. VR is where one branch of gaming is headed nut up or shut up.

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15:08 Nov-22-2019

https://gyazo.com/8639de522d5d47ec3dc4f8785d4a2b90 if ya don't believe me here's some proof, so many people complain they have no reason to buy a VR headset, excuses like, its not advanced enough, not enough games, no good games, well now there is gonna be a game made by a AAA developer. so now your excuses are man vr is too expensive, ridiculous.

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15:32 Nov-22-2019

Jesus that shipping price.

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15:34 Nov-22-2019

still less then 200$ honestly if i contacted them i probably could have asked them for regular shipping. With the price I paid for shipping I probably could have bought a base station, cause they are about 60-70$ on ebay.

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16:29 Nov-22-2019

Yes you are right, but I still say it is prohibitively expensive. The lesser options though don't provide nearly as good of an experience. They aren't worth considering.

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19:25 Nov-22-2019

honestly the original vive is probably the best option, the valve index controllers will work with the vive lighthouses most of steam vr hardware is interchangable, the only requirement for that specific setup is 1.0 basestations made after 2018 and 2.0 software or valves lighthouses, I own an oculus, vive original with wireless adapter 2 base stations and 3 additional trackers, and i bought all this on a fixed income.

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17:41 Nov-22-2019

You don't only need a headset, but also a machine that's capable of running that headset. Prices will definitely go down with time, but as it stands now, having a VR ready headset and a good enough PC is expensive.

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17:47 Nov-22-2019

Now you can go with cheaper options as there are plenty to pick, but if you want I'd proper VR experience, you do need a lot of cash. Why are people freaking out though? Because they think they HAVE to pay this game, and they don't.

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19:32 Nov-22-2019

You are right, but here's the thing i live on a fixed income so i don't make more then 800$ a month. but i own a oculus, htv vive with the wireless adapter, and 3 additional tracker.
all of which i purchased within a year of the other, so to get a decent experience in vr is not a difficult thing to do.

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19:35 Nov-22-2019

also an entry level pc for vr would be a 1060 6gb, and a cheap ryzen5 2600 cpu. So not that expensive, unless your super picky and can't settle with anything but the best, thats completely on you, but if you just want to experience it and don't care it can be a very fun experience to explore and may have you wanting more.

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20:26 Nov-22-2019

Frankly that's just an awful system for VR. That's the bare minimum and it won't get you far. Even with the strongest hardware many have motion sickness and other related problems, and any jitternes adds to that tremendously.

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20:27 Nov-22-2019

As far as it goes now, budget systems are simply not capable of running VR with necessary comfort. That will change in the future, but current barrier for entry is pretty damn high.

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20:54 Nov-22-2019

My friend uses my old oculus on no man sky vr and gets 30-40 fps with a 1060 3gb. entry level, is entry level for a reason. jitter doesnt exist, if your talking about latency? that doesnt either its called frame smoothing on steam vr, fps lag is fine, and not really noticeable with something that close to your eyes unless you go under 19 fps, motion sickness will happen whether you have 2 fps or 144, thats just a part of vr. i've got a 1070ti that plays any vr game without an issue, but a 2060 will do the same if you want the optimal experience.

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14:53 Nov-22-2019

So buying a $445 GPU wasn't enough, now we've gotta buy a $400 VR headset, I swear nowadays the gaming industry is all about buying the latest and costliest

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14:55 Nov-22-2019

hardware than actually making good games which are worth buying at the first place.

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14:56 Nov-22-2019

This is a spinoff title, not a continuation of the story you wanna see being continued. Thus it's totally fine they wanna use their biggest singleplayer ip to promote VR headsets by giving them a real AAA title for the platform(s). If you don't wanna play VR, like me, you don't have to, but let's not b*tch about it and instead be happy for those who are looking forward to the experience.

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21:20 Nov-22-2019

I know it's a spin off, but I'm just voicing my opinion, I could care less about the HL series and whether HL3 come out or not doesn't bother me, it bothers me

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21:22 Nov-22-2019

when companies can't even make good games, but keeps on recommending stuff just to sell some hardware which really isn't selling itself at this point.

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21:23 Nov-22-2019

This not only goes for Valve but all the other Game Developing studios out there.

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22:06 Nov-22-2019

The hardware isn't selling itself because there's not much of value on it. That's exactly why Valve is making this game in the first place. To try and make VR more appealing as it will have full length AAA games using the hardware.
I'd get the problem if VR were replacing conventional games so additional hardware is necessary to keep playing, but that's not happening. VR is definitely a different experience, and those willing to try it should have something worthy to play.

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15:24 Nov-23-2019

So you think making 2 to 3 good AAA games for VR in a year is gonna make VR sell well, more than the games, I think the price is the issue over here, as the

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15:25 Nov-23-2019

cheapest VR you can find is $400, you need to lower the bar of entry to make the product sell, as I see it HL: Alyx will sell poorly as only a percentage of

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15:26 Nov-23-2019

people who are crazy about HL and owns a VR (or willing to buy one) will only buy this game. Normal fans without the deep pockets won't even look at it.

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23:07 Nov-23-2019

Yes I do. If there are quality games on VR they will drive sales. If they drive sales, more higher profile devs will be interested in VR. If more devs are interested, more manufacturers will be as well. All of it combined will bring down the costs of VR together due to competition on the market. True, today, cost of VR is pretty high, but if it catches on as it's own thing more than just a gimmick, the costs of entry will fall steeply.

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23:09 Nov-23-2019

Valve knows that this game will be far from the best seller, they're doing this to get people interested in VR so they could profit off of it. But the market is not their monopoly, that's why the price of hardware will go down.

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16:12 Nov-22-2019

You don't have to buy anything, who told you that? You can simply skip the game, you know. There are many great VR experiences you've skipped so far, so why cry now?

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17:42 Nov-22-2019

Are you telling me that we're not legally responsible to play every game and that we can indeed skip some? World is not going to end?

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19:14 Nov-22-2019

It's a radical idea, I know, I know! But just give it a moment of consideration...

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20:22 Nov-22-2019

I'm afraid I'll have to report you to the proper authorities. Such radical though should not be spread among the public.

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