Half-Life: Alyx will release on March 23. It’s not much of an announcement, maybe. We already knew Half-Life: Alyx was due to release in March. Now we just know the exact day it’s coming. For most games, that’s not a story—and yet when you’re discussing the first Half-Life game in over a decade, even “Hey, it’s coming on March 23” can be the biggest news of the day.
After all, Half-Life: Alyx is likely the reason nobody can buy a VR headset. More than a month after Christmas, all of the major headsets are sold out. Valve’s high-end Index headset? Unavailable. Oculus’s standalone Quest headset, which you can hook up to a PC with its $80 Link cable? Unavailable. The tethered Oculus Rift S, arguably people’s last choice for a headset these days? Also unavailable.
The rush on headsets started right after Valve revealed Alyx in November and hasn’t stopped since. Last I heard, Valve “hopes” to have the Index back in stock before Alyx releases, but whether that will happen? And whether they can make enough to meet demand? Hard to say.
It feels like virtual reality is finally having its moment, and Half-Life is the foremost factor. And so when Valve says “Hey, it’s coming on March 23,” we perk up and listen. This could be the make-or-break for virtual reality. If it succeeds, we could see VR become a stronger platform in the future, regaining some of the hype it’s lost since the initial consumer launch.
And if it fails? If (and it’s certainly possible) Half-Life: Alyx is bad? That might be the end. Virtual reality wouldn’t necessarily disappear overnight, but it could prove disastrous for a platform that already has so many detractors.
We’ll know which direction it went in about six weeks. I’m excited, and nervous, and more than a little curious. If you’re interested in Half-Life: Alyx, you can find it on Steam now. Hopefully you already have a VR headset, because…well, I can’t point you anywhere to buy one of those.
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