'Half-Life: Alyx' targets March 23 release

VR game 'Half-Life: Alyx' takes place between the original 'Half-Life' and 'Half-Life 2.' — Image courtesy of Valve Corporation via AFP
VR game 'Half-Life: Alyx' takes place between the original 'Half-Life' and 'Half-Life 2.' — Image courtesy of Valve Corporation via AFP

BELLEVUE, Feb 17 — Five weeks to play through the previous games for free.

The fabled Half-Life franchise will soon be making its comeback as a Virtual Reality exclusive for Windows PCs.

Nearly 12 and a half years after Half-Life 2: Episode Two landed, the franchise is providing a prequel through Half-Life: Alyx.

Valve Corp, the development studio that also runs PC gaming network Steam and eSports staples Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, has narrowed the virtual reality game's release date from March 2020 to March 23.

Just as the PC version of Half-Life 2 pushed adoption of the Steam client in 2004, Half-Life: Alyx may be in a position to do the same for virtual reality headsets.

Valve debuted its own VR setup, Valve Index, in June 2019, after collaborating with hardware manufacturer HTC for the HTC Vive.

It is providing Half-Life: Alyx as a complimentary gift to owners of the Index headset or controllers.

The November 2019 announcement of Half-Life: Alyx has been credited with up to two thirds of the year's total 149,000 Index sales, and the US$999 (RM4,134) system has been virtually sold out since the end of that month.

So which VR headsets will run Half-Life: Alyx?

As it conforms to Valve's Steam VR standard, Half-Life: Alyx should be compatible with a wide range of headsets.

Those include not only the Valve Index and HTC Vive, but also Facebook's Oculus Rift, and third-party devices conforming to Microsoft's Windows Mixed Reality specifications.

That means players could experience Half-Life: Alyx using a Samsung HMD Odyssey+ (US$229) or HP HMD (US$179), both of which come bundled with their own motion controllers, purchasing the game separately for US$49.

In January 2020, Valve made the existing Half-Life franchise free to play on Steam until Half-Life: Alyx releases.

“The Half-Life: Alyx team believes that the best way to enjoy the new game is to play through the old ones, especially Half-Life 2 and the episodes, so we want to make that as easy as possible,” it said at the time.

Completion time database How Long To Beat estimates Half-Life 2 and its episodes at around 24 hours total play time.

The original Half-Life runs to around 13 hours with spin-offs Blue Shift (3 hours) and Opposing Force (6 hours) providing an alternative perspective on the game's events. — AFP-Relaxnews