Rumors of a third edition of Valve’s landmark, iconic Half-Life game being released have become a meme, like rickrolling, or Kermit the Frog drinking tea and proclaiming that something bizarre is going on but “that’s none of my business”. But at long last, thirteen years after the most infamous cliffhanger in gaming history, Valve, the creators of Half-Life and the Steam platform, have just announced Half-Life: Alyx. It will be a new, full-length virtual reality entry in the Half-Life series. To be released on Steam in March 2020, the title will be compatible with all PC-based VR headsets.

It isn’t a sequel, though – it’s more like a missing chapter. The game is set between the events of Half-Life and Half-Life 2. The storyline has Alyx Vance and her father Eli secretly mounting a resistance to the brutal occupation of Earth by a mysterious alien race known as The Combine. As Alyx, players take the fight to the Combine to save the future of humanity.

Half-Life: Alyx was designed from the ground up on Valve’s for Virtual Reality and features all of the hallmarks of a classic Half-Life game: world exploration, puzzle solving, visceral combat, and an intricately woven story that connects it all with the characters iconic to the Half-Life universe.

The Gravity Gloves are how Valve designers get around the physical reach issues that slow gameplay in other VR games. With them, you can pick up distant objects and interact with things you can’t necessarily reach directly. | Valve

But the news gets better, because we have a trailer showing actual gameplay. If you’re on your desktop browser, you can pause the Krypton Radio music stream using the player control at the upper right of the page.

The world of Half-Life has never felt more real and authentic, and I can’t help feeling a bit of a thrill knowing that you’re playing the role of a female protagonist in this new game. Somehow it makes everything more approachable and identifiable, even if that’s not your real life gender identity.

The Citadel, still under construction | Valve

“Everyone at Valve is excited to be returning to the world of Half-Life”, says Valve founder Gabe Newell. “VR has energized us. We’ve invested a lot of ourselves in the technology. But we’re also game developers at heart, and to be devoting ourselves to a VR game this ambitious is just as exciting. For that to come in the form of Half-Life feels like the culmination of a lot things we care a lot about: truly great games, cutting edge technology, and open platforms. We can’t wait for people to experience this.”

They’re suggesting that, even though this game takes place between Half-Life and Half-Life 2, that you play through Half-Life 2 before playing this new VR game, for reasons that will become obvious as you play it.

Valve says you will need a VR headset to play, because Half-Life: Alyx is expressly designed for virtual reality, so you won’t see it for non-VR systems. They’re saying it will work with not only the company’s own Valve Index, but also with Oculus Rift, the Oculus Quest with the new Link cable, and that even Windows Mixed Reality headsets should work.

So far only one or two games really push VR to the limits of its potential, those being Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Fallout 4 , but both of those are playable on non-VR systems. This new Half-Life game is going to redefine what’s possible in what is still a new medium.

You’ll be able to create your own Half-Life VR experiences from scratch, using Hammer, Valve’s bundled level editing tool.

Pre-purchase now for $59.99 (US), and it will be free for owners of the Valve Index VR headset.

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