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Gaming: Half-Life lives in VR prequel; The Last of Us Part II sneak peek
In gaming, there’s no bigger white whale than the elusive, almost mythical Half-Life 3. A game that was long rumored to be just around the next corner, the third full-sized installment in Gordon Freeman’s alien-fighting adventure series has lapsed increasingly into the realm of vaporware since Half-Life 2, still regarded by many critics as one of the pinnacles of gaming, arrived all the way back in the PlayStation 3 / Xbox 360 era.
Now, more than a decade after the last episodic installment in the Half-Life series, Valve has taken the wraps off what looks like a very different, yet still very much Half-Life, experience: a virtual reality game that leaves Gordon Freeman to the side to follow another major character.
Behold, the made-for-VR Half-Life: Alyx, which finds protagonist Alyx Vance all grown up and clambering through the jumbled hellscape of City 17 in a first-person shooting environment that, as the trailer below reveals, makes unique work of shaping a VR game into an experience that looks a whole lot like what we might expect to play on a conventional console:For fans who still clutch their withering copies of The Orange Box and would welcome even another Portal spinoff at this point, news of any new Half-Life game comes as a happy, if time-warped, shock. The good news is that Valve is billing Alyx as a full-sized game and that it’s available on a full array of SteamVR-compatible headset platforms (Valve Index, HTC Vive, Windows Mixed Reality, Oculus Rift, and Oculus Quest). But if there’s any bad news, it’s that there doesn’t appear to be a true console-based version of Half-Life: Alyx on the near horizon.
In terms of story, Half-Life: Alyx is all about putting those aliens down. “Set between the events of Half-Life and Half-Life 2, Alyx Vance and her father Eli mount an early resistance to the Combine's brutal occupation of Earth," the developer teases. Valve recently revealed to IGN that the game will take players through a story that’s roughly equal in length to that of Half-Life 2.
If ever there were a game that could be a system-seller for VR, a platform that’s in many ways still in its market infancy, it’s a full-sized game from Valve that looks and feels like Half-Life — and happens to have Half-Life in its title. We don’t yet know if Gordon Freeman will make an appearance, but after years and years of wondering whether we’d ever get to explore this world again, and with Alyx waiting in the wings, that’s small potatoes. Half-Life: Alyx releases for VR headsets sometime in March of next year.
If you want to get people hyped on social media for…well, anything, just add pups. To fans’ surprise and delight this week, Naughty Dog shared a series of cool concept art prints for The Last of Us Part II — including one shot of Ellie with what appears to be a very good and faithful doggo at her side.Aside from possibly teasing a new canine character, the new prints are aimed at playing up the artistry that goes into those quiet moments in The Last of Us’ beautifully dilapidated, post-apocalyptic world. Sure, there’s always a gun at the ready (after all, doesn’t there have to be?), but these prints are all about the solitude and tranquility that pervade the series’ uniquely dystopian, and bleakly beautiful, landscape.
The Last of Us Part II arrives — perhaps with a new four-legged friend — for PlayStation 4 on May 29 of next year.
From the super-serious to the slapstick and silly: There's room in gaming's wild wasteland for all kinds. Borderlands 3 just showed off a glimpse at the first round of story DLC we'll be getting as an add-on to the base game, and it's all about a fan-favorite character and her quest for the proverbial lootbox of gold. Yep, Moxxi’s Heist of the Handsome Jackpot aims to avoid Pandora's ill-lucked snake eyes while giving one of the series' most...complicated characters an all-new moment to shine.
If you're sensing an Ocean's Eleven-style bust-up with an ensemble of bumbling fools who somehow backed their way into gun-slinging success, you're probably not far off the mark. Moxxi’s Heist of the Handsome Jackpot goes for the gold (or at least the Erydium) when it arrives to Borderlands 3 on Dec. 19.