The potential for VR to transform the gaming industry has been much-touted, but the reality has failed to match the hype thus-far.
A new standard looks to be set when Half Life Alyx is released by Valve in March of 2020, alongside its Source 2 engine developer tools.
Washington-based Valve Corporation is better known today for its market-dominating PC game digital distribution platform Steam, but Value used to be better known for its iconic games like Half Life; a franchise which hasn’t seen a release for over 12 years, much to the dismay of fans waiting for Half Life Three.
All may be forgiven after Valve released the launch trailer for Half Life Alyx, a VR only, full length (13-16 hours) video game.
The game will be set between the events of Half-Life and Half-Life 2, but represents a departure from the format as the previous entries were traditional first person shooters. The immersive nature of the game play has excited gamers in forums, with a Reddit thread alone drawing over 3,400 comments.
Valve’s level authoring tool Hammer has also been updated with all of the game’s VR gameplay tools and components, the company said.
In a report published last week, PwC estimates that the VR market could be worth £107 billion by the year 2025 and £350 billion by 2030.
The consultancy said: “Many businesses are starting to recognise the opportunity to create new revenue streams and grow existing ones. Retail, hospitality and automotive are just three sectors already exploring the potential to sell and showcase products via both VR and AR, while gaming and entertainment companies are using the technology to create new experiences and products.”
Half Life Alyx & Valve Index
The Valve Corporation has developed its own VR hardware the ‘Valve Index’.
The Index is a dual 1440×1600 RGB LCD display VR headset which the company says will operate at 120Hz with backward compatibility to 90Hz. The VR headset has being developed alongside Half Life Alyx.
(Users be warned: the full Index VR kit is going to cost you £919, as well as the recommendation that the user has a Quad Core + processor and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 graphics in order to run the game smoothly.)
The player will wear a full immersion headset and will control the character via two hand-held controllers that have finger tracking and triggered-based controls. If you already own a VR headset such as HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Windows Mixed Reality or an Oculus Quest then you just need to purchase the index controls which are cross compatible with the above sets.
A surprising inclusion in the announcement is that Valve plans to release a set of Source 2 tools to the community. Source 2 is a 3D video game engine created by the Valve Corporation. The fact that Valve is going to release authoring tools that allow modders to create their own level designs and environments should not be overlooked.
The incredibly popular video game franchise Counter Strike originally started as a community mod for the first Half Life.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has gone on to sell well over 25 million copies making it one of the most popular games on the Steam platform.
The inclusion of VR developer tools with Half Life Alyx will no doubt spawn a plethora of community built games in the coming years and could be instrumental in driving VR gaming adoption to the next level.
Valve commented in its release: “Lean around a broken wall and under a barnacle to make an impossible shot. Rummage through shelves to find a healing syringe and some shotgun shells. Manipulate tools to hack alien interfaces. Tear a headcrab off your face and throw it out the window. VR was built for the kind of gameplay that sits at the heart of Half-Life.”