Valve isn't taking any chances with its first blockbuster VR title, Half-Life: Alyx. In an interview with Tested, Valve's Robin Walker and Greg Coomer discussed several challenges that the team at Valve had overcome to deliver a stellar experience for all players. Half-Life: Alyx can be played entirely with one hand when the proper option box is checked in the game's settings. Valve had been previously testing the feature toward the end of development and wasn't originally sure that it would be ready for the final build of the game.
Thankfully, for players with disabilities or folks with any other kind of physical issue or preference to use a single hand to play, Valve was able to get this feature finished in time for the March 23, 2020 release of the game. Given the fact that Half-Life: Alyx is a virtual reality game where your physical hands play a massive role in the gameplay, getting everything working with just a single hand is an impressive feat. Right now, we're not sure how every element of the game is affected since the interview in question avoided any potential spoilers. Given that some guns appear to require two hands to reload, it's likely Valve will reassign these functions to buttons or other similar mechanics.
This isn't the first time we've seen a major VR developer incorporate significant accessibility features into its games in order to reach a wider audience. Since VR is a more physical medium than traditional gaming, accessibility options are extremely important to provide the best experience for a wide range of people. Many games offer height adjustments that adjust the scale of game worlds to keep a player's height from affecting gameplay negatively, and many games also provide seated experiences for folks who don't want to regularly move around. Games like Beat Saber offer a similar one-handed experience, as well.
Valve has stated that Half-Life: Alyx was designed to be a return to the series, not the end of it, which implies the company could be working on future installments for either VR or more traditional platforms. We've also seen huge improvements in SteamVR leading up to Half-Life: Alyx's release, and the company's own VR headset, the Valve Index, looks like it'll finally be back in stock next Monday, March 9.
Half-Life: Alyx releases on March 23, 2020 for the Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Oculus Quest, and Windows Mixed Reality.
Half-Life is back!
The prequel we never knew
Half-Life: Alyx is a bold comeback for Valve's previously-stagnant AAA franchise, described by Valve itself as its "flagship VR game."
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Nick started with DOS and NES and uses those fond memories of floppy disks and cartridges to fuel his opinions on modern tech. Whether it's VR, smart home gadgets, or something else that beeps and boops, he's been writing about it since 2011. Reach him on Twitter or Instagram @Gwanatu
Remember the good old days, when "playable with one hand" meant something else...?
i.e. Tomb Raider.
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