Why is Half-Life: Alyx such a Big Deal to the VR Industry?
The story of Half-Life and the events that happened within it is no doubt one of the most popular if not successful in the computer video game industry. The events that came upon Scientist Gordon Freeman which catapulted him into the role of the reluctant but responsible for it all hero and protagonist of the game series became such an awesome and unforgettable experience for the gamers who have played and stayed with the game and it's iterations throughout the years.
Playing the Half-Life games starting with the very first to the latest Half-Life 2 sequel will not only show the advancement of the story but the technology being used by the game as well. If you've ever played Half-Life 1, especially way back in the late 1990's or early 2000's, one will remember how pixilated the game was. Not only that, in my case my PC didn't have the optimal graphic card requirements at the time to display the game at the proper frame-rate resulting in me having bouts of vertigo after playing for some time. Despite this, the game and the exploration of Black Mesa was so good that when Half-Life 2 came out, it was just normal for one to continue where the original game left off.
Half Life 2 was of course a far cry from the original as graphics technology six years into the future was able to bring more life and wonder into the continuing adventure of Gordon Freeman. By the time HL 2: Episode 2 was released around 3 years later, the graphics had advanced once again and with the remake Black Mesa released by 2012, graphic cards for PC had come a long long way. By this time, the story line had evolved that Gordon was no longer alone in his adventures. The young and beautiful Alyx Vance was now with him. I guess one could say that Alyx is sort of his science mission assistant (if not partner in crime) and most likely his love interest as well.
The thing is, so many gamers have invested so much time with Half-Life through the years that when a sequel comes out, they would automatically buy a copy of it. Lets face it, the game but more importantly, the story is extremely entrenched in the gaming industry that it has become a very profitable foundation to keep building on and Valve is continually doing just that. In fact, the gaming community's clamor for Half Life 3 seems to be a never ending one. Games like this are what one could say the pillars that keeps the gaming industry afloat. And, the story line is what subconsciously pulls the gamers to keep coming back for more. An analogy would be the Legend of the Seeker novels by Terry Goodkind. If you've read the first, and much worst seen the awesome TV series (although unfortunately only lasting for 2 seasons) you will be bound to continue the succeeding novels (up to book 15 and probably onwards) as it chronicles Richard Cipher/Rahls adventures along with his wife Kahlen in the continuing epic struggle of the magical King and Queen of Dhara. Similarly, with Gordon, Alyx and the other characters of HL (including G Man, well, maybe...) one would have a continuing curiosity as to what happened to them.
Half Life as a computer/video game though leaning heavily on it's story line also depends on the current and latest graphics technology as a medium to bring the adventure to life. With VR as the emerging new technology and a strong alternative medium to PC gaming, porting over or adapting the best and most popular PC games to VR (if possible) would be the most logical direction for game development teams and companies to head for. Thus it wouldn't be a surprise for Valve (which already spear-headed VR along with Oculus) to sort of port it's best and most popular title (Half Life) to the VR world.
As this would be Valve's first full VR title, the company is releasing a new Half Life iteration for VR only, Half-Life: Alyx which this time focuses on a younger Alyx Vance well before she became Gordon's assistant. The events take place in-between Half Life and Half Life 2 and as it is in VR, the gaming technology as well as the game play will definitely be some what different than the way HL is usually played. Also, Valve has made it a point for the game to be compatible with most of the current high-end VR HMD's from the Oculus Rift all the way to the Valve Index as well as Windows Mixed Reality.
As Half-Life: Alyx uses the Source 2 game engine, Valve will be placing it in the Steam Workshop. This means that modders, level designers and game developers will have access to many of the resources used in the game. The ability to create levels and models to be used for VR gaming would no doubt present an invaluable source of materials and contents that can be used to further the game itself by adding more levels or create modded or entirely new adventures for the VR crowd. Likewise, the Source 2 Hammer editor has been modified and upgraded for VR use.
With the game quality and the entrenched Half-Life storyline Valve is well known for, Half-Life in VR would no doubt be a benchmark for all other AAA PC game adaptations for VR. There will be a lot of gaming features that HL: Alyx in VR will no doubt present to the gaming public as VR gives one, more room, actual movement and interaction with the game. Also, experience wise, one will be able to (as much as possible) realistically experience and interact with the world of Gordon Freeman. As Alyx, the player will be able to perform such actions just not possible with a monitor, a mouse and a keyboard.
Valve as a game developer and hardware VR manufacturer is once again in the forefront on the advancement of the gaming industry. Releasing a full Half-life game in VR will no doubt create a quality standard that other competitors like Electronic Arts, UbiSoft and the like will have to match-up against or surpass. UbiSoft itself is already said to be working in bringing it's own major titles to VR. Fans have begun to pine for an adaptation or direct port of Assassin's Creed or even Prince of Persia into Virtual Reality.
With all the new gaming features and the interesting story line not to mention the top performances of the voice-over cast (with some returning and some new) as well as the realistic graphic experience which currently can only be achieved by VR, it's just no wonder that Half-Life: Alyx is such a big deal to the current VR industry.