It’s the news millions of veteran gamers have been waiting more than a decade for: another title in the sci-fi shooter series Half-Life.
Developer Valve Corporation has tweeted that a game entitled Half-Life: Alyx is in development and that more details will be revealed on 21 November. Excitement was perhaps tempered, however, by the nature of the project. Half-Life: Alyx is a virtual reality game that will likely lead on the Valve Index headset, launched earlier this year.
Over the last 10 years, the company has more or less abandoned traditional game development in favour of launching and maintaining its games retail platform Steam and its VR technology experiments. Since Vive launched in 2016, the company has released a few VR demos and mini-experiences such as the Lab and Moondust, both based around its Portal series of physics puzzlers. But it has resisted starting work on Half-Life 3.
We’re excited to unveil Half-Life: Alyx, our flagship VR game, this Thursday at 10am Pacific Time.— Valve (@valvesoftware) November 18, 2019
Can’t wait to share it with all of you! pic.twitter.com/BupFCxSrTw
The first two titles in the Earth Invasion series are among the most critically acclaimed titles in modern gaming – brilliant narrative-heavy first-person shooters with a compelling hero in Gordon Freeman, and a thrillingly creepy alien race in the shape of the Combine. Half-Life 2 and two subsequent episodes extended the story beyond the original’s Black Mesa research facility to a full city overrun with Combine forces, where Gordon encounters a small human rebel force.
From the title of the new project, it is one of the rebel leaders, Alyx Vance, that the new VR project will focus on. A non-playable character in Half-Life 2, Alyx was nevertheless considered a landmark in video game representation, a woman of colour with a leading role when other major games were dominated by male protagonists.
While revenues from VR headsets hit $3.6bn in 2018, according to the market research firm SuperData, the sector has not broken through to the mainstream as expected after a £1.4m Kickstarter campaign for the Oculus Rift device in 2012. The market leader is PlayStation VR, a comparatively cheap headset that works with the PlayStation 4 console. At £460, the Valve Index (which uses Valve’s open Steam VR platform) is at the high end of the market and requires a similarly high-end PC, as well as a certain amount of technical expertise to set up.
Reaction from gamers ranges from excitement to disappointment. The phrase “Half-Life 3 confirmed” has become a meme for forlorn expectations. Gamers without expensive VR equipment may be hoping for a full Half-Life subsidiary they can play on their current consoles.
"I wish Valve would make a new Half-Life"— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) November 18, 2019
*the monkey's paw curls a finger* https://t.co/elJNZzc0ly
The Valve announcement is at 10am PST (2am GMT) on 21 November.
• This article was amended on 19 November 2019. An earlier version incorrectly referred to the HTC Vive headset rather than the Valve Index headset in the text and subheading. The headline was also changed to clarify that the Half-Life sequel will not likely be exclusive to just high-end VR headsets.