It has been over 12 years since the latest entry in the Half-Life franchise was released. It was Half-Life 2 Episode 2, released in October 2007, part of the Orange Box, which also included the undisputed game of the year, Portal. In the subsequent decade, players have hoped that Valve would release the third chapter in that story, Episode 3, but to no avail. In its absence, the existence of Half-Life 3 has become the constant joke of the Internet.
This week, Valve announced neither Half-Life 2 Episode 3 nor Half-Life 3. Instead, they announced details about an entirely new entry in the franchise: Half-Life: Alyx. This previously known game, but with no details, will live between the first and second games and will tie together the gap between the stories. The idea of being able to re-enter the chaotic world of Black Mesa has excited fans of the franchise.
While the excitement over the new entry is a big announcement from Valve, there is something potentially more exciting about the new game. Half-Life: Alyx will be a AAA title released as a virtual reality game, and a flagship title for the Valve Index headset. One of the biggest limiting factors for the success of VR has been the lack of a truly killer title for any VR platform. By bringing the most demanded franchise in gaming into the world of VR could finally represent the tipping point for VR.
In addition to the excitement over the title, there is another reason to be excited. Valve plans on bundling this AAA title with the headset. That means that anyone who owns the Valve Index will get Half-Life: Alyx for free. As we have seen with other gaming platforms, giving games for free is a huge incentive for people to use it. However, this is a big move from Valve to increase the value of the Index. Half-Life: Alyx will be available in March 2020, assuming no typical Valve delays.
But that's not all Valve had to say about the franchise. Valve's David Speyrer told The Verge that people inside of Valve have been excited to have returned to the franchise and that, assuming success on the new title, the company could spend more time working within that universe. Maybe finishing the current story, maybe starting an entirely new one. Either way, fingers crossed for continued content.