Virtual reality is still growing, and with Half-Life: Alyx, Valve is seeing what one of its biggest franchises can do in the space. Of course, there are some challenges VR games have to overcome, even just in basic locomotion. A new video today shows exactly how Valve is overcoming some of that.
The Tested crew went to Valve HQ to test out how Half-Life: Alyx runs on various VR headsets. While they were there, they got some more details on how movement and interaction within the world of Half-Life: Alyx will work; things like moving from point A to B, picking up and throwing objects, and climbing ladders. One big feature that looks handy are Alyx’s “gravity gloves.”
When there are a bunch of interactable objects, walking around and grabbing all of them can be time-consuming, especially when headcrabs and Combine forces are chasing you around. It looks like Valve’s solution is a pair of gravity gloves, which you can use to “force pull” objects into Alyx’s hands. It came in handy for some situations, like quickly grabbing a propane tank and feeding it to those creepy ceiling barnacles.
This pull ability also just seems like a good way of cutting down the pacing in circles you might have to do otherwise, and it keeps the action moving at a brisk pace. You just lock on, yank back to kind of “force pull” it, and fling!
In other clips, you can see the Tested guys interacting with objects on the fly. Guns need to be reloaded in stages: drop the magazine, load a new one, rack the slide. In other places, you can see how some interactions are just a simple teleport up and down, like ladders; other motions, like quickly jumping backwards, can be done with a gesture.
It also looks like controls will vary based on your headset of choice. While Valve’s Index seems fairly natural and makes frequent use of hand tracking, other headsets like the Oculus Rift or Quest will have different inputs, which the Tested team had different opinions on. Considering Half-Life: Alyx will be available on a number of headsets besides Valve’s, this is a good opportunity to get an idea of which one you want to play it on.
That said, there is some impressive new technology at work here. Half-Life: Alyx will go live in March 2020, but in the meantime, check out our feature on the tricky nature of making arms work in VR, featuring some quotes from former Tested staffer Will Smith.