The next entry in the Half-Life series, the VR-only Half-Life: Alyx, hasn’t fallen victim to infamous “Valve time” delays.
The last time Valve released a Half-Life game was October 2007. That was Half-Life 2: Episode Two and, to date, is the concluding part of Gordon Freeman’s saga. The last we saw the Freeman, he and Alyx Vance were heading off to the Arctic circle to find the lost research ship, the Borealis.
And that’s all they wrote. Half-Life 2: Episode Three never happened, Half-Life 3 definitely never happened, and most of the original team – save for Gabe Newell, sitting atop his pile of Steam money – has since dispersed.
But there is new blood in Valve. The Washington-based developer and publisher bought Campo Santo, the brilliant team behind Firewatch, one of Thumbsticks’ all-time favourite games. The former Campo team have found their various niches in Valve’s notoriously flat structure – and that has sadly come at the expense of In the Valley of the Gods – and lots of them have been working on Half-Life: Alyx.
A prequel, set between the events of Half-Life and Half-Life 2, while Gordon Freeman is taking a big nap, Half-Life: Alyx focuses on – you guessed it – Alyx Vance. There’s nary a Freeman in sight, as far as we know. But don’t worry. Much like the Uncharted series without Nathan Drake, we think Half-Life will be just fine without the silent scientist. Alyx is such a brilliant character in her own right, it’s exciting to step into her shoes.
Quite literally, as it goes: Half-Life: Alyx is only available in virtual reality. (Here’s the system requirements and list of compatible headsets, for reference.)
Games developed by Valve – if they’re even in development at all – are often subject to what people call “Valve time”. It’s an industry in-joke for being released far later than originally indicated. (Yes, lots of games are delayed these days, but Valve really set the gold standard in delays for a time.)
But with Half-Life: Alyx, the game was almost finished by the time it was announced. That’s a really smart way to avoid delays and hopefully, avoid extended periods of crunch, if anybody else in the industry is listening.
The good news is, Half-Life: Alyx is nearly upon us. It will release on March 23, 2020. That’s less than six months from announcement to release. Well played, everyone. We can’t wait.