PC VR headset owners can now pre-purchase Half-Life: Alyx on Steam, though the highly anticipated game will be free to owners of the Valve Index VR headset or controllers when it releases in March 2020.
The upcoming “full-length” VR game is set between the events of Half-Life and Half-Life 2 and compatible with all PC-based headsets.
“Alyx Vance and her father Eli secretly mount the resistance to the brutal occupation of Earth by a mysterious alien race known as The Combine,” a press release from Valve explains. “As Alyx, players take the fight to the Combine to save the future of humanity.”
Valve partnered with Pistol Whip developer Cloudhead Games to ship a brief introduction to the Valve Index Controllers earlier this year called Aperture Hand Lab, and in 2016 Valve released a free collection of experiments called The Lab. This is the first full-length VR game from Valve and it was developed alongside the company’s impressive Index VR headset and controllers. While the game won’t arrive till next year, the announcement comes just in time to influence buying decisions heading into the Black Friday shopping season.
Valve designed Half-Life: Alyx “from the ground up 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.”
While the game works with all PC VR headsets with tracked controllers — like Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Windows Mixed Reality — there are some optional interactions that are only possible with the Valve Index Controllers, which strap to the hands and don’t need to be held.
“Everyone at Valve is excited to be returning to the world of Half-Life,” Valve founder Gabe Newell said in a prepared statement. “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.”
Update: Valve says that “Owners of Valve Index controllers also get Half-Life: Alyx for free.”