It sounds like Aperture Science needs to go back to the drawing board if there’s to be a Portal VR game.
In an interview with IGN surrounding the release of Half-Life: Alyx, Valve’s Robin Walker revealed that Valve had experimented with a Portal VR game, but it hadn’t got very far with it.
“We [looked] at our various IPs when we started… before we selected Half-Life… which is a really standard thing for us to do,” Walker explained. “When you’re trying to explore something new, of course you start with ‘What are all the tools we’ve got from the past that could help us rapidly learn here?'”
One of those tools was the Portal franchise. But, as exciting as that sounds, Valve “didn’t get far in that,” according to Walker.
“It was pretty clear when we looked at Portal as a whole… If we can’t do player movement, not as a result of their choice, but by launching them… momentum…standing on things… all that sort of stuff… then a whole swath of Portal’s puzzles… the whole back half of Portal, or more… goes away, and we’d need some alternative thing.”
Valve has done ‘alternative things’ with the Portal universe in VR, of course. 2016’s The Lab compilation of VR minigames was set inside the mad world of Aperture Science, and even featured a character from Portal 2. Plus the recently-released Aperture Hand Lab utilized the world to showcase Valve’s new Index controllers. But the core concept of Portal itself, of walking through freely-placed portals and experiencing the physical effects of that, does sound intensely uncomfortable for VR.
“The whole point of using existing IPs is to get a head start on trying to understand and learn, and if we start by taking away one of the most interesting things from the IP we’re looking at, then it doesn’t seem like we’re making a good choice there,” Walker concluded.
As much as we’d love to see Portal VR, this sounds like a wise choice on Valve’s part. Besides, it just cleared the way for Half-Life: Alyx, which is absolutely fantastic. Following its release, Valve confirmed to us that it doesn’t have any other VR games in direct development right now. Still, who knows what the future holds?