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Half-Life: Alyx Still the VR Game to Beat 3 Years On

Half-Life: Alyx - Steam Spring Sale

In the two to three years leading up to 2020, if you loved VR then the hot topic was always Half-Life. Like much of the industry, rumours were rife, and Valve was very good at keeping secrets. While most people around the world will remember early 2020 as the onset of the pandemic, VR fans remember it for the best game ever, Half-Life: Alyx. And three years on, even with all the knowledge and experience gained since then, it is still unrivalled.

There have been plenty of excellent VR games to arrive in the past three years, but none like Half-Life: Alyx. From the first mention of Half-Life coming to VR everyone was excited. There hadn’t been a mainline game in years, with hopes of a Half-Life 3 having mostly dissipated. Alyx may not have been the sequel fans were after, but it provided the AAA quality VR gamers craved.

Half-Life: Alyx sets the benchmark

Valve is very well known for doing things in its own time, rushed or influenced by no one. And as it turned out, the company was far more interested in making what it wanted, rather than another sequel. So Half-Life: Alyx had its narrative set between Half-Life and Half-Life 2. Starring as Alyx Vance who races through City17 to save her father, Dr. Eli Vance.

It’s a gripping story but Half-Life: Alyx’s true magic was always in its VR gameplay. Valve designed it from the ground up for VR, complementing its new Valve Index headset – the best device to play it on. It might be part of XR Source’s Best Looking VR Games and Best VR Shooters lists but it’s the nuanced interactions that set the game apart at the time. Simple things like picking up a marker pen to write on a window or seeing liquid slosh around in a wine bottle. All of that adds to that sense of presence that not all VR games manage to grasp.

Half-Life: Alyx is and will always be one of those VR games fans of the technology need to play. Such is its magnetism that its Steam Workshop is thriving with a huge selection of mods created by the community. Some have even created whole new games inspired by other games like Return to Rapture (inspired by Bioshock) or Gunman Contracts. Half-Life: Alyx has even been de-evolved into a flatscreen game for those without a VR headset – although Valve made it in VR for a reason.

Valve continues to sell the game at its original price of £49.99 GBP. Nowadays you’d be foolish to buy it at full price as the game is always listed in a Steam sale. Currently (at the time of writing) you can buy Half-Life: Alyx for its lowest-ever price of £16.99, that’s a 66% discount. Bear that in mind when considering picking it up.

Is Half-Life: Alyx on Oculus Quest 2?

It is worth noting that while Valve’s seminal game is PC VR-only, any PC-compatible headset will work. That means devices like Quest 2 or PICO 4 can support it, so long as your computer can. Read How to Connect Quest 2 to PC or How to Connect PICO 4 to a PC for more info.

Alas, if you’re on PSVR/PSVR 2 you’re out of luck.

Have you played Half-Life: Alyx? Do you still think it holds up? Let us know in the comments below.

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