I haven’t played Half-Life: Alyx, but I really, really want to.
Last month, I picked up the PlayStation VR2 as my first virtual reality headset and have been enjoying a wide range of games on it since then, from Zombieland: Headshot Fever Reloaded to Horizon Call of the Mountain. Although the lack of exciting new titles in PSVR2’s launch window library doesn’t bother me that much as this is my first VR experience, I do still recognize that there are only a couple of games that are pushing the PSVR2’s technology and giving Sony’s second VR outing a clear identity.
One significant critique of VR I always had as an outsider was that the medium was too segmented to entice me enough to pick one platform. While I did decide to finally bite the bullet and buy a PSVR2 and have played many great ports on it, there’s still quite a bit I can’t play on it — namely 2020’s Half-Life: Alyx. As I move on from the early days of being impressed by pretty much anything I play in VR, I’m starting to look for more fully formed experiences like Alyx that actively evolve and enhance the medium. Currently, PSVR2 is lacking many of those titles.
Great VR games I’ve never played are missing from the PSVR2’s launch window library, and that’s cutting into the headset’s early appeal the more we move away from its launch day. Although this seems like a situation where Sony needs Valve more than Valve needs Sony, the creator of steam and the Index VR headset does stand to gain something if it gets that critically acclaimed game on PSVR2.
Why PSVR2 needs Half-Life: Alyx
In watching gameplay footage and reviews of Half-Life: Alyx, I can see why it was met with so much critical acclaim. It is one of the best-looking VR games and one of the most comprehensively designed shooters on the platform. It justified a $1,000 Valve Index purchase for many people and stands along the likes of Boneworks, Beat Saber, and Astro: Bot Rescue Mission as a hallmark VR release that shows just the kind of transformative AAA experiences VR is capable of.
But out of that list, Beat Saber is the only one confirmed for PSVR2, and even it doesn’t have a specific release window. Unreleased games like The Dark Pictures: Switchback, Synapse, and Journey to Foundation look neat, but don’t drive excitement like tentpole AAA PSVR2 releases can. As my honeymoon period with VR wears off, I am becoming more cognizant of its library limitations and I am left hoping that the platform has a future.
Seeing more games take advantage of the tech and more high-profile ports of popular games on other VR platforms would give me the vote of confidence I currently need as a fledging VR fan. Issues I’ve seen with the VR space are becoming clear the more I work through PSVR2’s game library, and as someone with only one headset, I’m already feeling a little left out. I’m not feeling buyer’s remorse, as the headset is very powerful and already has some great games, but PSVR2 doesn’t feel like a platform with a clear mission or identity yet. Getting more AAA VR classics on it ahead of the next major tentpole PSVR2 game release would go a long way in remedying that.
And what better way to give the headset a shot in the arm than by bringing the tech’s best game to the platform?
Why Half-Life: Alyx needs PSVR2
The biggest roadblock preventing Half-Life: Alyx from coming to PSVR2 is simple: Sony isn’t the developer or publisher of the game. Because of that, Sony needs to convince the historically sporadic Valve to put in the time and effort to create a PSVR2 port. It’d be easier for Valve to sit on its laurels and not port Alyx over, but there’s something Valve can gain from it if the company is still interested in VR and doesn’t want people tracking down workarounds to play the game on headsets other than the Valve Index. Getting Half-Life: Alyx on more platforms would serve the betterment of the VR medium as a whole; it’s a rising tide situation.
Plenty of other players like myself are exploring virtual reality games for the first time thanks to PSVR2. Console-related releases give access to a more casual gaming community than the hardcore high-end PC crowd that currently flocks toward VR. By bringing a fantastic game like Half-Life: Alyx to PSVR2, Valve would entice more people to pick up a VR headset and encourage them to stick around. Even as someone who hasn’t played it, Half-Life: Alyx seems like an experience that shows what makes VR gaming special. The medium would only look better in the eyes of many casual VR users like myself if it was more accessible on a greater number of headsets like PSVR2.
In turn, more people will see the value in VR gaming and AAA experiences tailored specifically for it. It may even get some PSVR2 players to get even more into VR and pick up a higher-end headset. The VR medium is at a nascent-enough stage where its major players should be building each other up, not creating walled gardens. Getting Half-Life: Alyx on PSVR2 would not only make Sony’s VR headset a better platform, but could be a strong road map for the future of the VR gaming medium as a whole.
So come on, Valve. I really want to play Half-Life: Alyx.