Valve has been developing the game Half-Life: Alyx for four years, and it was officially launched on March 24. It seems that the praise received has exceeded many expectations.

As of now, the average score of Metacritic for this game is 92 , and many The media even gave full marks, and IGN also emphasized:

“This is a game from the future.”

To be honest, such a high evaluation is really rare, but the source of curiosity is not because it bears the prefix of the classic masterpiece series “Half-life”. Besides, it is not the “Half-life” that Valve has been avoiding for the past 10 years 2: Chapter Three, but it’s a VR game.

Moreover, it is also a work with an MC average score of over 90 and which can only be experienced on VR devices. At least before Half-Life: Alex, we haven’t seen any game in the virtual reality field that can get such a high score.

▲ Many VR shooting games were done very rough before

There are many reasons behind this. If you have used VR equipment to play first-person shooting games, you will also find that many works just make a stand-up light gun shooting game similar to the arcade, letting you from the beginning to the end in “shooting-teleport to the next “Place-Continue Shooting” cycles back and forth, and once you are familiar with this routine, it is difficult to raise interest again.

On the other hand, although some VR games have received good reviews, such as the well-known VR audio game “Beat Saber”, the volume of such games is obviously not the same as those with magnificent, beautiful graphics, The full storyline 3A game is comparable.

Overall, Valve ’s goal is very clear this time. “Half-life: Alex” is produced according to the R & D process and standards of 3A-level games. The ultimate goal is to make a “VR masterpiece” in the true sense .

Valve did not disappoint.

What did it do right? From the process of the first few hours of my current experience, “Half-life: Alex” has made a breakthrough in the graphics, scene details and plot atmosphere, and it also pulls with most previous VR games. Great distance.

More importantly, the introduction of these new mechanisms has not affected the historical narrative and combat characteristics of the “Half-life” series. The new and old elements have now achieved a good fusion.

I feel a little deeper is the scene puzzle part. In order to give better guidance, traditional flat games often mark the key symbols on some switches. Operations require players to “make their own hands” to make actions, and most of the environmental interactions in the game cater to this feature as much as possible.

So, in the game, you will make actions such as “turning the valve of the pipeline”, “pulling the lever of the machine” and “climbing the ladder”. Sometimes you have to turn your head to confirm whether the mechanism is turned on or from the accumulation. Find the key props in your cardboard box and cabinet drawer.

Honestly, in some games that mainly focus on decryption, the puzzles of the “Half-life” series are not difficult to solve, but the action mapping brought by VR will make players have a deeper impression on their operation process. Once a puzzle is solved, the sense of accomplishment is much more than simply pressing the handle button or clicking the mouse.

It is also because of this automatic interaction mechanism in the scene that “Half-life: Alex” has created a different kind of “object sense”: you will systematically search for the current scene for you to “play” Props, such as grabbing a pen and scribbling on the glass, or turning the knob on the radio, or even turning the globe and gently pushing the half-closing iron door.

Although some actions have nothing to do with the main line of the game, their existence and being touched by your own hands can still deepen your perception of this virtual world.

There is also a pair of gravity gloves in the game, which allows players to easily grasp long-distance objects, similar to the “Flying Curse” in Harry Potter, or the force control in Star Wars . And in battle, you can also suck the grenade around the enemy’s waist first, and then throw it back.

Half-life: Alex has also made specific optimizations on how characters move. I also mentioned earlier that many VR shooting games are made “stand-up style”, and movement is achieved by “flashing”-meaning that you can choose a fixed point in the scene, and the character will automatically be pressed after confirming When I walked over, some did n’t even provide the location, and the system was responsible for where to move.

But Valve now offers several movement methods. In addition to the most basic flashes, you can also return to the same traditional games as using the joystick to achieve free movement, and these two movements can be used simultaneously.

Because my game progress has just begun, it is difficult to make too many evaluations on the story and level. However, from the evaluation of several foreign game media, the core reason for the recognition of “Half-life: Alex” is also because its game immersion is properly polished, and this experience has never been seen in traditional flat games. .

But there are also disadvantages. For example, some players are dissatisfied with the design that the gun has been “sticky” to their hands, and the management menu is a bit tedious. The interaction of some scenes will still make you “play”, etc. .

In terms of process, Valve has set a game time of about 15 hours for this game, so you do n’t need to worry about the lack of content (the price is only 163 yuan …), and the positioning of the prequel of “Half-life 2” also allows those without Players who have come into contact with the previous game re-understand the entire worldview.

But some players also asked why Valve would choose to make a VR game, instead of making a version that can be operated with the mouse + keyboard, as in the current Call of Duty, Battlefield or DOOM. Let more people enjoy the charm of the “Half-life” series?

Valve also responded to this last yearQuestion , in their opinion, many of the designs of this game are designed to let players rely on “instinct” to complete. For example, the most basic “magazine change”, usually we just need to click the “R” on the keyboard, but in VR games, you really need to make a “replace the magazine to the weapon” Actions.

There is also something like “Aiming”. In VR games, it is obviously impossible to put a crosshair in the center of the screen. Similarly, the player must raise the gun in his hand and use the sight on the barrel to shoot.

“Converting these interactions to mouse and keyboard operations is theoretically completely feasible, but it also means that the game will lack many interesting scene interactions. Basically, the more we do each test, the more we realize it This interaction brings new possibilities to the game, so we ultimately chose VR. “

In a way, “Half-life: Alex” can get such a high rating, rather than being regarded as an ordinary good work, and it has a great relationship with VR-Valve hopes to keep the series Features, such as puzzle design, scene exploration and other specific elements, present a new story in a more modern way.

This means using VR as a hardware carrier.

At the same time, “Half-life: Alex” is also the first time that Valve has submitted a satisfactory answer at the content level after joining the VR field.It will undoubtedly increase the industry’s confidence in the development of subsequent VR games.

Of course, VR ’s threshold for mass players is still objective. If you want to experience “Half-Life: Alex”, you still need a high-performance PC and pay for VR equipment. These are much more expensive than buying a game console at a price of two or three thousand yuan.

After that, you have to make a small space in the room to avoid swinging your arms or colliding with furniture when you move around, or tripping over the power cord of the helmet.

If there is no equipment, it means that bystanders can only experience VR games from purely graphic descriptions or videos, which is far less shocking than their own experience.

▲ The old HTC Vive does have some power to play this game …

VR games also cause fatigue on the neck and eyes. In my case, using the old HTC Vive to play games, it is still difficult to continue playing for more than two hours in a immersive game like “Half Life: Alex”, mainly due to the lower resolution of the panel Eyes are inevitably tired.

If you have a device with a higher panel resolution and lighter weight, such as Oculus Rift S or HTC Vive Pro, the experience will definitely be better.

This is also the embarrassment of the VR market at this stage. On the one hand, we hope that the hardware equipment can be reduced to a reasonable price as soon as possible for more people to buy the experience; but on the other hand, only if the user base is large enough, Content developers will be willing to invest high R & D costs into large-scale VR games, rather than just doing some seemingly small-scale work.

It can only be said that in order for any emerging technology or product category to really catch up, the early stage still needs to go through a slow climbing stage. Just a “killer” game is obviously not enough to drive the entire VR game market. But at least Valve has put VR games on the right track, and it proves that high investment can get equivalent returns.

As long as there are more and more works like “Half-life: Alex”, VR will gain popularity and gradually gain popularity, and it will probably not be difficult.

Source of the title map: Valve