New Half-Life: Alyx Gameplay Footage Confirms Valve’s Hat Obsession Is Alive in VR

New Half-Life: Alyx Gameplay Footage Confirms Valve’s Hat Obsession Is Alive in VR

There are about 20 minutes of new, varied VR gameplay to feast your eyes on.

Half-Life: Alyx launches in just a few weeks, but until today, the only gameplay we've ever seen came from its November reveal trailer and short, low-quality glimpses in a video from Tested. Today, Valve and IGN have released extended looks at Half-Life: Alyx's gameplay, which mainly serve to show off some familiar enemies and locales in virtual reality. Still, there are also a few interesting new gadgets, systems, and puzzles in Half-Life: Alyx that get a spotlight.

Valve has released three distinctly different gameplay videos, while IGN has an extended nine-minute look at the area featured in the first of Valve's trio. Valve's three clips also show off different VR locomotion options: teleporting, shifting, and continous movement. Here are just a few of the things we've noticed in the new footage.

Half-Life: Alyx Introduces Weapon Upgrade Stations

In previous Half-Life games, Gordon Freeman carried around a dozen-plus weapons on his HEV suit without breaking a sweat. All the footage we've seen of Half-Life: Alyx so far suggests she may have a smaller arsenal, but now we know where you'll be able to upgrade your guns and what you'll need to power them up.

Throughout Valve and IGN's footage, the player can be seen picking up little pucks of resin. Some of these are off the beaten path, while others seem to be hidden on shelves and in buckets full of garbage (which, in typical "ooh, VR physics" fashion, can be upended and rooted through). Resin can be used for weapon upgrades at Combine fabricator stations—big, alien 3D printers—which are shown off in the first of Valve's videos and in IGN's gameplay.

In the third Valve video, where the player fights some Combine soldiers, we can see that both Alyx's pistol and her one-handed shotgun can be upgraded. The former can fitted with better sights, firing modes, and clips, while the shotgun can receive an auto-loader and a grenade-flinging attachment.

You Can Put A Hardhat On Your Head

While Alyx may be going into the dangerous parts of City 17 wearing only some plain clothes and a pair of gravity gloves, it looks like she'll at least be able to acquire a favorite Valve accessory while out-and-about: a hat. At around the two-minute mark of the video, the player picks up a hardhat in an abandoned subway car and places it on their head, which then appears to stay in place.

Hopefully hardhats and maybe other wearable items will serve more of a gameplay function than, say, Team Fortress 2's large collection of fancy hats. Considering that the player finds this hat in a section filled with Headcrabs and Barnacles, it seems possible that a hat could serve as a bit of protection against any attacks aiming right for the head.

Familiar Enemies, New Weaknesses

Speaking of Headcrabs and Barnacles, let's talk about the clear changes made to Half-Life's iconic enemies. The new footage gives us plenty of time with Headcrab Zombies in the underground metro, and they seem to shamble around a bit more. Maybe they're a tad bit slower than in Half-Lifes past, but it also seems like you'll often be fighting them in groups, meaning you'll need to be quick on the draw anyway.

Valve has previously confirmed that Barnacles—those nasty, ceiling hanging maws with a tongue that would drag junk, enemies, and Gordon up off the ground—work differently than before for the sake of VR comfort. At around a minute and a half in IGN's video, a Barnacle starts choking out the player, causing their vision to go dark. That'll surely be distressing enough in VR without the added danger of being hoisted up (and, if it does guard you against it, a great reason to keep a hat handy).

In the tussle with some Combine soldiers, we see that at least some of them are wearing tanks that can be shot and blown up for a quick takedown (it also looks like some Headcrab Zombies have a similar weakness in the form of glowing, pus-filled growths). It also looks like there's a new kind of heavy-duty Combine soldier that wields a minigun. In addition to tossing grenades at you—which, naturally, you can pick up and toss right back—the Combine will also deploy Manhacks, those warbling buzzsaw drones.

Hologram Hacking Will Join Half-Life's Puzzle Stable

In Valve's second gameplay video, which also showcases continuous movement and the verticality of some of Alyx's environments, we see two kinds of puzzles. There are a couple very typical Half-Life environmental puzzles—toss a grenade through a crack to open a locked door, find a doodad to power up a lift—but the one that opens the clip is new to Alyx.

Back in Half-Life 2, Alyx could hack open Combine doors at consoles and with a zap from her trusty hack tool. Here, it seems the tool will let Alyx pull up hologram interfaces for different kinds of 3D hacking puzzles. In room scale VR, these could have you pacing around your space to get a better look at things, but it also looks like you can rotate and pull certain holograms Minority Report-style.

Half-Life: Alyx will launch on March 23, 2020 for SteamVR compatible PC set-ups, ranging from lower-end Windows Mixed Reality headsets to Valve's currently sold-out Index kits. From now until its release, all the Half-Life games are free-to-play on Steam. For more on Half-Life: Alyx, check out our guide to its cast of characters and the five most important questions we think it needs to address.

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Mathew Olson


Mathew Olson is a writer formerly of Digg, where he blogged and reported about all things under the umbrella of internet culture (including games, of course). He lives in New York, grew up under rain clouds and the influence of numerous games studios in the Pacific Northwest, and will talk your ear off about Half-Life mods, Talking Heads or Twin Peaks if you let him.

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