November 23, 2019
A trailer for a new Half-Life game has finally been released. Fourteen years later.
The game is not called “Half-Life 3,” but is instead called “Half-Life: Alyx.” Because you don’t play as Dr. Gordon Freeman.
You play as Alyx Vance.
I don’t know about you, but this isn’t really what I was hoping for.
It’s possible that there are no intentional political undertones to this, and we just assume there are intentional political undertones because it feels like everything has intentional political undertones.
I’m okay with girls in the lead role in video games. I enjoyed the original Tomb Raider games, and I am a big Jill Valentine fan. Not opposed to Claire Redfield either.
But Gordon was the defining character of the series. And I want to play as Gordon.
Oh – and it’s a prequel. Which is not what I was hoping for when the last game, Half Life 2: Episode Two, left on a cliffhanger.
And here’s the other thing: Half-Life: Alyx is entirely in VR.
There is only VR.
There is no non-VR option for this game.
So, I hope you have a little extra cash lying around.
Just for anyone who’s unclear – this is not an independent system. This is a headset, you plug it into a computer.
A computer with some pretty heavy minimum requirements.
So, I don’t know what the deal is here.
To be fair, Valve has always been on the cutting edge, and they may genuinely be trying to make VR work, and this is the only way they can do it. But as there are no other games that anyone wants to play on this headset, you are effectively paying $1,000 for a single video game, then hoping something else comes out to make it worth the purchase.
Also to be fair, the trailer does look fantastic. I think everyone who watches it who loves the original games is at least for a split second going to think about whether or not they have the ability to scrounge up $1,000.
Also to be completely fair, I can’t possibly be fair here, because I am not a believer in any coming VR revolution, anymore than I am a believer in the imminent development of general artificial intelligence.
And yes, those things are comparable and in fact similar.
Both predictions strike me as similar to when, in the 1960s, people were saying we’d have cities on Mars by the 1990s.
VR and GAI are theoretical technological revolutions that are assumed to be coming at a date not too far in the future, even whilst both have obvious, insurmountable problems blocking their implementation.
With VR, the problem is largely that people simply don’t like it. It makes them dizzy and disoriented. So even if Valve has solved the mechanics of the problem, are they able to make this into anything other than a luxury novelty?
And if so, does this mean that Valve has gone the way of so many other once great video game companies in becoming a politicized customer abuse machine?
Certainly, we can’t make that accusation yet. Time will tell. It could well be that Half-Life: Alyx is worth the $1,000 for those who can pay it, and after the first wave of wealthy and/or devoted gamers buy the system, it will allow Valve to put money into figuring out how to make it cheaper – while other companies also rush in to compete, and further drive down the price due to market competition – and in five years we’ll all be thanking them for ushering in the next era of video games, in the same way we did after the release of the first Half-Life.
It might be some hot stuff.
I’m just saying: I’ve been burned before. When I was a kid, I never would have expected Blizzard would become what it has become. So yes. I am skeptical about Valve trying to sell me the most expensive video game ever made.
I won’t ever be buying this, because I am disgusted by VR and furthermore I do not have $1,000. Obviously, you would have to be a lunatic to pre-purchase it, even if you’re a billionaire. But I do eagerly await the reviews.
Half-Life: Alyx is scheduled to be released in March of 2020.