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March 24, 2020 2 min read
Half-Life: Alyx has been available for approximately 27 hours, and Valve just knows someone's already hard at work modding virtual reality out of it. Valve doesn't explicitly know of any specific modders undertaking that project, mind you. Valve isn't in denial that VR was a contentious choice, and the developer assumes getting rid of it was priority number one for someone out there.
Valve programmer Robin Walker tells Polygon "Personally, I'm not concerned about it at all." Walker is speaking to the confidence he has that VR is integral to the whole Alyx experience. "It will clearly demonstrate to people why we did this in VR. It will be a very crisp way of seeing all the stuff we got for the move into VR. If people play [a modded version that omits VR] and say this is just as good, that will teach me a lot."
There are two schools of thought here, and you can't really be faulted for whichever one you land in. On one hand, Half-Life: Alyx without VR will allow more people to see the story and experience another chapter in Half-Life. On the other, Alyx's pull is that you get to directly interact with the world of Half-Life. You get to eject empty clips from your pistol, reach into your backpack for a fresh one, and manually slide the new rounds in. You get to tangibly manipulate holograms. You get to frantically flail to knock a headcrab off your face.
Now that I've played Half-Life: Alyx (and reviewed it!), I'm firmly in the latter camp. Frankly, Alyx wouldn't be a very good game without VR implementation. It'd be a slow-paced horror action game that's mostly just propped up by a few big story beats. But, Valve is resigned to the inevitable. "I don't want to say I encourage you to do it, but it's going to happen," Walker says before adding "I think people will then hopefully have an even greater understanding of why we decided to build the product in VR than they do now."
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