The first part of Half-Life was released in November 1998, almost 22 years ago. The second part in 2004, 16 years ago. If you continued to follow the series after that, you know that the second part included two additions, the last of them in 2007. Valve last created the game in the Half-Life universe more than 12 years ago.
Half-Life is a legendary series of games. Millions of copies sold, hundreds of awards, and of course the fans who cosplay Gordon Freeman year after year. And the setting of the second part – a fictional country of Eastern Europe – is such a sudden and such a pleasant coincidence. Each part of the series was a kind of breakthrough in its genre and a turning point for the gaming industry. We’ve been waiting for Valve to gather ideas and determination to make a game that will change everything again.
Valve strives to please everyone, and so everyone will be able to continue to wait – the events of Half-Life: Alyx occur 5 years before Gordon’s awakening from stasis at the beginning of the second part. So technically – the new game is a prequel. Not a sequel and certainly not a long-awaited third part. To remind players of the plot of previous games, as well as to allow players unfamiliar with the series to get acquainted with it, the first parts were available for free download for almost three months (from January to April). The second part was also available, including all the add-ons.
In which countries was the game most popular?
Half-Life: Alyx was met with great anticipations and we can list countries where the game enjoyed the most popularity.
Scandinavian countries love the Half-Life franchise very much. It was Norway where the game was downloaded by millions of people and they enjoyed it notably. If we take a look at how the gamers in Norway reacted to the previous parts of the franchise it was not a surprising fact. Alyx’s influence was so great that it even reached the gambling industry which is rapidly growing in Norway. Some of the elements from the games were featured in online casinos. It was a very interesting marketing move that attracted even more people both in the game and in the gambling industry. If you take a look at the page here you can see that monsters from the game were used in various games.
Considering the fact that the second part took place in Eastern Europe and in general this region is very famous for the number of gamers, Alyx proved itself in Easter European countries and shows no signs of slowing down. Gamers from Ukraine, Georgia, Russia are still playing previous parts and Alyx is no exception.
China has shown a notable advancement in technology throughout the past years. Alyx is a VR game and it was very appealing for Chinese gamers to try this new system. It worked and showed its effectiveness. Even during the pandemic the game’s popularity never diminished.
The United States
Of course, we cannot miss the United States, because that is where the game is from. Valve is based in Washington. Upon its release, millions of copies were sold and still Half-Life: Alyx shows its strength in the US.
More about the game
In the early summer of last year, the company launched its own virtual reality helmet, the Valve Index, which made a lot of noise. Every company that produces a VR helmet on the market strives to have its flagship game as a product that can show what a helmet is capable of. A unique situation when the manufacturer of the helmet is itself a game developer. So of course, it was a good idea to develop such a game yourself. But a really great idea becomes if the game is a new Half-Life.
VR shooter is not defined by the way we imagined the sequel to Half-Life 12 years ago. We were waiting for a breakthrough game, with stunning graphics, innovative gameplay, old acquaintances and of course with the very atmosphere of Half-Life, which was baked in the brain by the sounds of first aid kits, changing weapons and, of course, the initial screensaver. So what happened? Let’s get to the bottom of this.
VR game developers today give priority to the mechanics of walking and jumping. You can say this: the virtual reality helmet seeks to enhance the feeling of the player’s presence by immersing him inside the game. The device tries to track as much of the person’s actions and give him as much data about the character’s feelings as possible. So one of the VR shooter’s challenges is to give as much freedom as possible to the character, provided that the player is in a confined space. So we get a situation where the character goes and the player stands still. In real life, in such situations, we can vomit. We call it motion sickness. Today, there is not a single VR developer who does not understand that VR is deceiving the brain enough to cause this unpleasant feeling.
But the Valve team exceeded all expectations. Each mechanic was designed so that even a complete beginner in VR did not get any unpleasant feelings. To do this, along with the mechanics of smooth sliding in the game, there is a movement of teleportation, each jump artificially slows down, and the player as a fluff plans to land. In addition, at the start, you are offered a whole set of settings, designed to further mitigate the possible discomfort. Even the canonical grip with the rise of the barn can be turned off.
The bottom line
Half-Life: Alyx is the first Half-Life game in more than 12 years to receive 93 critically acclaimed scores from Metacritic. And it now makes it the most highly rated game of 2020 and ranks 25th among the most rated games of all time on PC. In the category of VR games, it immediately finds itself in second place. And this is the first VR project Valve, but as we hint in the scene after the credits – not the last.