We’ve already spoken about how Half-Life: Alyx raises some interesting questions for the storyline of this sci-fi first-person shooter franchise. But the success of this game has also significantly raised the bar for VR gaming as a whole.
Half-Life: Alyx was only released at the end of March 2020, and it was received with universal acclaim from the gaming community. With 43,000 concurrent players on the day of release, and 300,000 people watching on Twitch, it looks like this Valve title is the VR game that everybody’s been waiting for.
Valve introducing new possibilities
After years of uninspiring virtual reality releases, Valve’s gamble on Half-Life: Alyx looks to have paid off with everything from the liquid effect in bottles of vodka to the ease of use of the ‘gravity gloves’ helping to turn complex puzzle solving into a real treat.
And we have seen similar franchises like Resident Evil delivering pale attempts at turning an established game into a virtual reality option, which included scaling back the visuals, to the point that they lose much of their effect. But now the onus is on developers to catch up with what Valve has just achieved, and that will involve creating even more realistic VR games.
But considering the fact that one of the key players in the iGaming realm, NetEnt, have pioneered a new kind of virtual reality casino gaming entertainment. With intentions to make their hugely popular Gonzo’s Quest into a real-money VR slot game. This would be considered a milestone for the industry as many sites that offer free spins feature games from this well-established developer.
It appears like Valve is not alone in setting the standards for VR gaming. This means that we can be hopeful that even more game developers across different sectors will jump on this wild train and create the most immersive VR experiences to date.
A VR game changer
The success of Half-Life: Alyx could be the catalyst that brings VR gaming into the mainstream. This can be seen in the fact that there were nearly three times as many monthly connected VR headsets used by Steam users after the release of the game when compared to the previous largest monthly gain.
Figures released by Valve showed that 1.91% of steam users had a VR headset connected to their PC during April 2020. This might not sound like a lot, but it’s a significant inroad into making VR gaming an essential part of modern gaming culture.
Making VR gaming simple
Many newcomers to VR gaming have been thrust into an artificially created environment with a minimal introduction on how to move around the virtual spaces. But where Half-Life: Alyx succeeds is the fact that it serves as an excellent guide to VR gaming with a linear approach that familiarises you with movement and interacting with objects within the safety of the abandoned metro station.
The use of the thumbstick controlled locomotion movement could initially make aiming at zombies a little complicated. Still, the learning curve is flattened due to Valve’s ability to create a reasonably intuitive VR interface.
Once you leave the metro and start to roam through City 17, you should be able to enjoy Half-Life: Alyx without too much of the motion sickness that has plagued other VR titles.
Gimmick-free VR entertainment
Many previous VR games have suffered from a somewhat shortened playing time. Promising titles like Star Trek: Bridge Crew offered a quality sci-fi virtual reality option, but ultimately, the relative lack of content made the Ubisoft game leave gamers wanting more.
While Half-Life: Alyx doesn’t have the vast outdoor spaces of Half-Life: Episode Two, there is enough content here to provide many hours’ gaming entertainment. The increasing complexity of the game matches your progress as you get to grips with the VR controls in battling biomatter and Xenian creatures.
If anything, Half-Life: Alyx is so compelling that there’s even the danger of having your feet ache from standing so much, which is something that you won’t get from the standard video gaming experience!