Half-Life is back, but not in the way you’d expect. Instead of a traditional PC game, Half-Life: Alyx is a full PC VR title coming next year. It can only be played with SteamVR-compatible headsets.
Why is that?
The obvious answer is simply that Valve makes VR hardware and VR services and wants to support that, of course. But plenty of great VR games also support flatscreen play. Why couldn’t that be the case with Half-Life: Alyx?
Valve’s own Dario Casali fielded that question in a roundtable interview with Geoff Keighley, published today. “We would love to be delivering a version of this that you could play with a mouse and a keyboard, but like as we said it began as an exploration of VR,” Casali said. “The more we used the controllers and the headset we realized — the amount of interactions this give us, the amount of possibilities these things give us, the more we explored it, the more we realized that there’s so much opportunity that we can’t really translate back to the keyboard.”
Indeed, if you watch the trailer for Alyx above, you’ll see some interactions you wouldn’t be able to pull off with a keyboard and mouse or gamepad. Things like pushing physical objects on a busy shelf around to search for certain items, or placing one hand on a healing station while shooting with the other.
“When you can track your hands separately from your head, they’re all 3D space, all simultaneously tracking and moving — you just can’t really get that with a mouse and keyboard,” Casali continued. “And when you put that into game mechanics the kinds of interactions that we can do now we couldn’t possibly do with a mouse and keyboard.”
Perhaps another good example of why the game couldn’t work on traditional PCs is something like Boneworks, which uses realistic physics in ways games haven’t really seen before.
Half-Life: Alyx is set to release in March 2020. We’ll bring you much more on the game when we have it.