So a new Half-Life just came out - Reviews & Discussion

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glots

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#1  Edited By glots

While things outside in the real world aren't looking that bright, a small miracle within the video game world occured and a new Half-Life game came out today. Sadly I (and a good portion of you folks reading this, I imagine) won't be able to play it, but at least it seems to be delivering a good experience for those who can.

But even though I won't be able to play it personally, I'm going to at least watch a LP of the damn thing...and as it happens, it seems like friend of the site, Danny O'Dwyer, is doing a (full?) LP of Alyx!

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Casepb

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Looking forward to it. Get to dust off the ol Oculus Rift S.

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wollywoo

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I am a huge fan of the Half-Life series so this looks amazing. However, right now I don't have the hardware (no VR headset nor gaming PC) so I'll wait on it. Happy to see VR finally get its killer app, but I wonder what the sales will be given the investment it requires and the lack of install base.

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jamesyfx

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I'm lucky enough to have VR, and I played a few hours of the game.

It's more fun than I expected. I usually can't stand moving around in VR games but this one felt much more immersive. The shooting feels good, I'm still learning everything so it's quite tense when I'm fumbling around trying to unload a clip, then grab a new magazine, load it.. and pull the.. slide(?) back.

Fun.. I shall keep playing it now I am on lockdown!

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mellotronrules

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i just watched michael higham's video review on gamespot- and this thing sounds pretty awesome. not sure when i'll be able to play it- but it's exciting that valve was able to get the right people on board to deliver an experience that justifies use of the 'half-life' moniker.

really wish i had access to a vr rig!

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Casepb

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#6  Edited By Casepb

Just played the first hour and I was loving every second. I'm a huge HL fan and to see everything so up to date and modern was incredible. The graphics are so impressive I feel like you might need a next gen headset to truly take advantage of them. Or maybe at least something better than an Oculus Rift S?

So gameplay wise I feel like it's very well done and polished, but ultimately nothing all that new for me. The shooting is pretty much what you'd expect from VR and I've played VR games where everything is pretty interactive. I've also experienced puzzle games similar to what you do in it. I'm only an hour in though, but still I'm not expecting to get blown away by the gameplay.

I'm more interested in the world and story. The only thing I'm actually not liking so far is the slow movement. I like using locomotion in VR and it's nice when you can sprint. So not having a sprint kinda sucks. I guess it also sucks that I can only play an hour of VR at a time.

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nousptda

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I've put in four hours today. Absolutely loving it. I'd go longer but playing VR can be exhausting. When actions require more than a button press it takes some getting used to.

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JackBurt0n

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So...I’ve got an oculus quest and I’m playing through the oculus link. Seems pretty impressive, even on medium settings (just got a 1060). What’s the preferred movement setting everyone is using? I’m using head tracking, but it still seems like I’m moving with the thumbstick. That said, the gravity gloves are awesome! It took me a few minutes to get the hang of pulling clips and resin out and catching it, but once I got the hang of it, it feels so damn awesome! Just getting to the end of chapter 1 so far. But me likely so far. Also, is that Rhys Darby as Russell?

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Squadaloo

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I picked it up and am in the possibly unique position of being into VR but not really caring about Half-Life as I've never played nor care to play anything else in the series (Unless you count Portal still as a Half-Life spin-off but it's barely related at this point).

So far I've played about an hour and fifteen minutes and despite the fact that it's so far rather horror oriented (which I typically am not a fan of either) I'm really enjoying it quite a lot. It's very slow paced but the level of interactivity is outstanding and the graphics even on low blow pretty well every other VR game out of the water. It probably looks boring to watch due to the pacing, but the atmosphere inside the headset is incredible.

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IK2K3

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So, I own a Oculus CV1. I played around 5h now. Lokomotion, standing, 360° tracking, relatively strong PC (R9 3900, 5700XT, 32GB Ram).

My simple verdict: It's great and shows what can be done with a budget, while not revolutionary it combines things that work well in VR and make for an awesome experience.

The mechanics at work are more or less known from other games. But it is polished well here and works. I am not a huge Half Life fan, I grow up with it and played it, but I do not have that much nostalgia for it. So the story is your usual shooter story for me so far and replaying will be anoying because you can't skip the "I will now talk at you for 3min. You might be able to through a cup at me, but you cannot move on."

However where the game shines is atmosphere and immersion. Your hud's on your hands, the environment is well done and diverse so far, pacing seems great with a few puzzles, hacking mini games, combat and looting because I obsessivly need to open every drawer in case there is ammo or that upgrade material. Or an easter egg. I would really like to point out that the sound design especially is awesome.

The combat is really good so far, tense and with the reloading mechanics (which I highly enjoy) it forces you to be semi precise, not waste your shots and be quick but not panicky. The only gripe is that I can only carry 2 items in my "sleeve pocket" so you have to decide what to take with you. I often carried granades actively in my hands because I had no space and was worried that there might be 5 headcrabs around the corner (looking at you, northern star). Also like to shoutout throwing a red barrel into one of those things that suck you to the ceiling (or luring an enemy to them) is really satisfying in vr.

I had no trouble whatsoever, no frame drops or tracking issues. The only weird thing is that I can't switch the language (german, voices are english, would like to set the whole game to english but it won't let me)

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Seikenfreak

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I'm in Chapter 3 I guess? Game is starting to pick up now, which is good as the earlier stuff is obviously designed to ease people into VR, but I'm already somewhat used to it.

PC is a Ryzen 3900x, 32GB Ram, GTX1080 using the Index headset (room scale setup but I play it without walking around) using free joystick locomotion. Looks pretty great and runs surprisingly smooth.

I seem to be playing it in hour long chunks. My feet and legs need a break at that point I guess? Boneworks (another VR title I highly recommend if you like HL:A) I stayed in for a few hours a couple times I think. Something about it felt more real or something, not sure if that has anything to do with it.

Overall, it's what I expected so far. A lot of the gameplay bits and pieces we've seen in VR already, particularly Boneworks, but with a higher quality level of presentation, polish, narrative etc

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Casepb

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Anyone else notice how much the headcrabs look like raw turkeys now? Also they are huge!

No Caption Provided

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Kamui

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I've put about 5 hours in so far and I have to say that it's blown me away so far. The visuals really stand out and help with immersion. Since it's so rare to see a AAA game in VR, I hadn't realized how much of a difference good textures and lighting could make. It makes sense though since you are closer and examining everything. Seeing other humans in action in the game looks pretty surreal also.

The one thing I was slightly disappointed about was that I was expecting some new ideas for how to deal with locomotion, but they just use the VR standards. I have no idea what would be a good alternative, but I was looking forward to seeing some new ideas for that.

While no one part of the game feels revolutionary in the sense that it's something never done before, it definitely refines all the currently known elements of VR gameplay into a package that is more polished than anything that came before it. Any AAA VR game made in the future will be compared to Alyx.

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MerxWorx01

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@casepb: ew. That makes it way worse.

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Big_Denim

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@casepb: Ya, the size of them blew my mind. They're massive.

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I played for about an hour last night on a Rift and so far I'm really impressed. The thing that really blew my mind was how often I forgot I was in VR; until now I've never really gotten lost in a headset before, but I instinctively kept doing things like trying to open doors with my foot. I think the physics system — and in particular how your hands react to every surface — plays a big role in creating that sense of presence. I'm excited to jump back in tonight.

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Just finished it and it's honestly an incredibly breathtaking VR game that is probably the game to convince people to adopt VR right now. It's also refreshing to see some hard evidence that Valve haven't given up on Half-Life yet especially considering the events that unfold in the game.

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Seikenfreak

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#18  Edited By Seikenfreak

7 hours in update: Still pretty good. Couple thoughts..

  • I feel like the gun handling and feel was better in Boneworks? Something about the way the pistol sits or is angled in the hand in HL:A feels just ever so slightly off. I felt like the impact of my shots on enemies felt a bit better? Maybe the gun sounds as well? Looks like HL:A has no rifles, keeping everything one handed, which I can understand because using anything two handed can be wonky with VR tracking. That being said, when it worked in Boneworks, it felt bad ass using a rifle. I've also had one of those VR rifle gunstock things on order for months now and that may or may not solve some of that awkwardness. But just on whats in the game, if you go back and try HL2, the pistol has this unique sound, feel, and action to it even compared with modern games and the pistol here in Alyx doesn't quite match that. Still, the pistol is my preferred weapon so far.
  • I did have my first technical issues today. Can't remember if it was chapter 5 or 6, maybe it was the patch they did last night, but my game started crashing a handful of times once I got in this area. Other times, weird framerate freak outs that would happen when I started a multi-tool puzzle or whatever.
  • Some of the physics/object handling doesn't feel good or "right", but other stuff feels great. The bad is mostly with larger or heavier objects? Like you can't really move bodies or certain crabs etc. You can't grab and push over shelves or similar in Alyx, but you can in Boneworks. I've had issues with the grenades, where they don't release from my hand sometimes? And thus explode and kill me. But like.. frisbee'ing a plate or lid feels perfect.
  • Voice acting and writing is pretty good. Music felt better in Boneworks.

Really wish I had a GTX 3080ti by now -_- And I really want a glowing grubworm health thing in a mechanical glass tube on my desk. Please, take my money.

I also think I want a VR game that is like this but.. an old Rainbow Six game. Setting up terrorist hunts and going in with a team of AI. Wire cutters to clip trip wires. Slapping up some breech charges. Smoke grenades and thermal goggles. Snake cams under doors. Ding Chavez. I don't want something run & gun like Call of Duty.

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csl316

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Is the story worthwhile? I'm not setup for PC VR so I'll probably just wind up watching a game movie on Youtube.

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Seikenfreak

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@csl316: I mean, I guess if you were into the half life story/characters you might find it interesting? That's not really what I took from these games though.

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Seikenfreak

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Just finished it a moment ago, 11 hours. My opinion hasn't changed I think.. pretty good stuff. I think Half Life: Alyx would've had much more of an impact on me if Boneworks hadn't come out a couple months ago.. That might has well have been a Valve game in everything but story.

Yea, this was a solid experience. I could see myself playing through it again once I get whatever the next video card is and see if the game plays or feels any better with better performance or visuals. I wish there were more AAA VR games.

A little more environment variety would've been nice I think? Though there were some good areas.

Question about a thing I saw a handful of times but don't understand: What is up with those tentacles that have the alien ball thing in it's claw? But it won't let me take it. I thought it might've been like the pod things from HL2 to summon the antlions.

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#22  Edited By demasiaduh

Just finished it a moment ago. 10-11 hours. As a Half-Life fan I'm happy. Loved the ending. P.S. Seikenfreak - you have to be quick and grab it with your hands and not the glove.

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Seikenfreak

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demasiaduh

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NTM

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#25  Edited By NTM

Bummed I won't be playing it any time soon (if ever). I don't know if I want to sit for ten hours to watch a playthrough either. I read the entire story though on Wikipedia, and dang; the ending alone. I wish I could play it. I don't have a headset, nor a good enough PC to play it so... Yeah. I would love to see City 17 in VR.

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Shindig

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I just took the easy option and watched the endings instead. I'm ... interested in Valve's next move.

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glots

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Watched the final chapter and ending today. That was a ride, even when not experienced in VR. I gladly would've experienced it by playing myself instead, but eh, no can do. Maybe I still will, because even after seeing it played, I'd probably be stoked to get through the whole thing by myself.

For the next Half-Life though, I'd like to go the ordinary, non-vr route.

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Seikenfreak

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#28  Edited By Seikenfreak

Beat it myself some days ago as I mentioned, but I've still been watching a couple of playthroughs- and thus just saw the ending again. Definitely would prefer they keep it in VR. The experience is so much more engaging and new feeling. The more time has passed and seeing other people play it makes me want to play it again or something else in VR. I think Valve designed it conservatively for their first go around, maybe a little too much for those of us not new to VR, but they were definitely holding back which means it can only get better.

The "Jeff" level, which seems to be HL: Alyx's "Ravenholm" equivalent, needs to be experienced. Of course, knowing anything about it or having any expectations will likely hinder your experience. I went in blind, and damn.. so many cool aspects of game design for VR. Also, I would love to see someone stream with an accurate heart rate monitor on screen through the entirety of this game. Not necessarily because of scares (I don't consider this a horror game btw), but just the sense of presence, certain vistas and scenes.. You can only say "This looks and feels incredible" to your audience so much and they just think you're crazy.

Standard first person shooters, especially for something more on the adventure end of the spectrum like Half-Life, aren't the same once you've had a good VR experience.

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Squadaloo

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#29  Edited By Squadaloo

@seikenfreak: I'm honestly curious to see how a non-VR mod would work for this game entirely because of the Jeff chapter. I don't see any reality in which that section controls well at all when you don't use your hands. While I really enjoyed the whole game, that section more than any other sells VR beyond being a gimmick IMO.

On the whole, as someone who has never played a Half-Life game and only knew bits and pieces of the lore that had trickled through public knowledge, I liked this game a lot more than I thought I would. It definitely has enough going for it that sells it beyond a recognizable brand.

I might lend a headset to friends who are into Half-Life so they can play it. Even with my level of knowledge on the universe, the ending hit me as being extremely gutsy.

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Seikenfreak

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#30  Edited By Seikenfreak

Oh, also! I want a developer commentary track while playing through this more than any other game. It would be awesome to hear about all their trial & error ideas while going through each segment.

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goosemunch

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#31 goosemunch  Online

I'm currently in the middle of Jeff chapter and I'm angry at Valve. They're just trolling at every turn - pointing and laughing at us poor terrified innocent players.

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BisonHero

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@goosemunch said:

I'm currently in the middle of Jeff chapter and I'm angry at Valve. They're just trolling at every turn - pointing and laughing at us poor terrified innocent players.

Jeff chapter, you say?

Loading Video...

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Casepb

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#33  Edited By Casepb

Just beat it a few minutes ago and...

The end chapter was easily the trippiest thing ever in VR. I also holy shit did not see that ending coming until it was right in my face! So yeah, HL3 confirmed.

Also it was so fun throwing those vortigaunt energy bolts at combine!

It was awesome.

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goosemunch

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#34 goosemunch  Online

I beat it last night as well, and it was absolutely incredible. I had high expectations but this managed to meet it and then some.

Probably the most adrenaline-fueled gaming experience I've had in... ever? I don't think I've been this immersed in a game world since maybe first Half-Life. Some of the sights and scenes unfolding (even if they're canned scripted sequences) were awe inducing and/or terrifying.

And that HL3 teaser, holy carp - I hope they make one, I sincerely hope it continues to be in VR. HL3 on a flat 2D monitor played with a mouse and a keyboard (or a gamepad)... just feels like a downgrade at this point.

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If we can step back a bit, I think part of my low-to-nonexistent hype for this game is the return to City 17. It just seems like a 4th HL2 property. Don't get me wrong, I have a fondness for City 17 from 2004, but my interest is just not piqued at all until they move forward and take a fresh crack at the HL series and its art design. It just feels weird for them to still be leaning so hard on Viktor Antonov's art design. Maybe it's unrealistic to expect devs to wildly overhaul a series with each game (see: Jeff's disappointment when Halo 4 immediately brought back the Covenant and most of the same old enemy types and factions with only a few new ones), but Valve has set a bit of a precedent of doing this with Half-Life.

Like OK. Half-Life 1, you're in this elaborate science facility (Black Mesa) on purportedly normal Earth, where basically a lightly reskinned Doom 2 premise happens and it's hell on Earth. Half-Life 2, totally changes the game, following the events of the prior game a weird alien race is governing Earth through puppet human administrators, and authoritarian cops are your primary enemy through the (for it's time) really well done rendition of Prague or whatever. Episode 1 you leave the city as it gets destroyed, Episode 2 you're doing some stuff more in rural regions.

A Half-Life 3 I would want to similarly surprise me and switch up the premise a little bit, add new mechanics, new locales, new art design, etc. So HL: Alyx just doesn't interest me, as a prequel retread of City 17 (gravity gun becomes gravity glove, etc.). Maybe I'm wrong and you do all kinds of wild original stuff and see aspects of the world not shown in prior HL2 games, but from the bits I've watched of early game, it seems like it is too much just a VR implementation of the same City 17 I recall from 15 years ago.

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Squadaloo

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@bisonhero: I think their line of thought was that people would want to revisit a game world they know when using VR rather than something wildly different. It does make it a harder sale though if someone hasn't tried VR and is looking at it as basically "that thing you know but prettier."

The game does get more original as it goes along although maybe not to the extent you'd be looking for at least as far as setting is concerned.

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