Today the world gets its first look at Half-Life: Alyx. In addition to the trailer, the company has released the first Half-Life: Alyx screenshots. If you’re familiar with Valve and the Half-Life series, you know what kinds of art style, environments, and enemies to expect, but you’ve never seen a Half-Life game this detailed.

If you didn’t already catch the trailer, released date, and pricing for Half-Life: Alyx, head right over here. If you’ve already seen that, you’re surely interested in seeing the first high-res screenshots of Half-Life: Alyx revealed by Valve. Let’s cut right to the chase:

If you’ve played Half-Life 2 you’ll be immediately familiar with most of the environments depicted here, but what’s quite striking is just how much detail Valve has poured into this world compared to what we saw 12 years ago with the last game in the series, Half-Life 2: Episode 2.

More of Today’s Half-Life: Alyx News

Granted, some of what we’re seeing is quite new. Valve calls the gloves worn by the player ‘Grabbity Gloves’, which will likely be built into the narrative as a precursor to Half-Life 2’s Gravity Gun (after all, Alyx will be set between HL1 and HL2), while functioning as a convenient way for players to ‘force-grab’ objects in the world a a distance (an increasingly common theme in VR design).

Where to Watch Resolution's VR Games Showcase Today @9AM PT

It looks like the gloves will indicate player health as well as some other info. The glove screenshot also appears to confirm that the game will use floating hands, a VR design choice which appears to be on its way out (considering the likes of recent titles like Asgard’s Wrath, Stormland, and the upcoming Boneworks).

In the indoor screenshot with the Combine enemies, we see what appears to be a new combine soldier type holding a new gun. The player is also holding some sort of grenade-like device. In the sewer screenshot, a barnacle-like create appears to be controlling a zombie-like corpse.

In Half-Life: Alyx Valve has promised “all of the hallmarks of a classic Half-Life game,” citing world exploration, puzzle solving, visceral combat, and a strong narrative as the title’s core gameplay.

While the studio’s prior VR projects were based on Unity, Valve confirmed today that Half-Life: Alyx is built on the company’s own Source 2 engine.

This article may contain affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and buy a product we may receive a small commission which helps support the publication. See here for more information.

  • kontis

    I’m happy to see new Half-Life game, although I disagree with the headline.

    HL1 and 2 targeted photorealistic aesthetics. HL: Alyx targets semi-realistic, a bit cartoony style, especially visible in faces. I’m not talking about amounts of details or complexity of the meshes, but aesthetics. Nothing bad in that in games, but for someone used to the HL style it’s a tad disappointing.

    HL2 2003 E3 demo was one of the most revolutionary moments in history of real-time graphics. That pushed photorealism, physics and facial animation forward. It does NOT feel like 15 years passed. It feels like a step back compared to any big game today. That one guy had more uncanny valley face than NPCs in HL2. You cannot be satisfied with it knowing the history of Half-Life. The only thing that justifies it is VR and only a tiny bit.

    This feels like a great indie studio with solid budget and experienced team got “okay” from Gabe to make a HL-themed game. It doesn’t feel next gen AAA at all.

    • benz145

      I disagree, I think the art direction is plainly excellent and that it will hold up better (and perform better) than aiming for photorealism.

      • kontis

        I went to a few forums and looked at some opinions and the first one talking about artstyle from a verified Senior Concept Artist is remarkably similar to mine, so it’s not just me:

        • Zantetsu

          Two people can be wrong at the same time.

          Just sayin’ …

          • GamerMuscle

            Weather or not something is stylised is an objective fact , This new half life for better or worse has a “stylised” look to it rather than it using current technology to achieve the current best possible “photo realistic” look.

            If a person says the new Half Life is not “stylised” then they are objectively wrong its not a matter of opinion.

          • brandon9271

            It suits the subject matter and the HL universe. I honestly think photorealism would be a bit jarring. Not to mention a performance killer. Valve made the right decision.

          • Zantetsu

            Pretty bold statement considering that the game hasn’t even been released and we’ve seen just a few minutes of gameplay.

    • Rosko

      I think maybe it’s just a matter of limitations of VR? Maybe photo real would just be too much for a pc running vr.

      • kontis

        It’s not. Shading complexity, sure. Art style and animation, nope.

        • aasdfa

          you clearly do not know what youre talking about… just stop

          • kontis

            I worked on 3d graphics when you were probably still in diapers so please educated me more.

        • Hivemind9000

          Shading complexity, art style and animation approaches go hand-in-hand if you want the overall effect to feel cohesive and balanced. They would have spent a lot of time perfecting this look to make a believable, complex world while still being performant in VR.

          • kontis

            Yes, but that’s not a problem. this industry was chasing photorealism even in the 90s. No one is forcing them to go with crazy subsurface scattering or screen space tricks. Use simple lambert warp faked skin shading like in HL2, which works really well in VR. Source 1 models and shading are still nice today.

            It’s seriously a preference 80%, technicality 20% at most.

    • The system requirements are pretty high already. GTX1060 i5-7500 and 12GB of ram. Actually pushing photo realism would mean less objects in the environment (aka less things to render) or better hardware.

      Looking at the trailer, there seems to be a great emphases in Physics and many intractable objects in the environment. Which makes sense for the really high CPU and RAM Requirement. It’s probably as far as they can feasible go.

      Also remember that’s the MINIMUM requirement. Recommend requirements would push that well within cutting edge hardware.

    • brandon9271

      It doesn’t look “cartoony” to me at all. It looks like a natural progression from what the original games looked like. It’s what I imagine an “HD” remake of HL2 would look like..

      • Electokute

        It’s not a progression. It’s a spiritual tip of the hat. In today’s standards, HL2 looks a tad toony.

    • RockstarRepublic

      To rephrase your comment a bit, they went with a stylized art direction but clearly filtered it through physically based rendering. Thus you get a kind of “”realistic lighting” and rendering approach, with textures and an art direction that is clearly more stylized. Stylized tends to work better for VR as well.

    • Afterschool Carl

      No u. U look cartoony.

    • Adrian Meredith

      You do realise the more realistic faces get the more uncanny valley effect you get. I agree the 2003 demo was insane and still holds up but its telling that none of that was in the final game because it was made for that demo likely with mocap facial animations hl2 itself never lived up to that. The moment in that trailer where alyx goes “this is our only chance to strike back at the combine” or whatever was insanely good facial animation.

      • kontis

        Yet, HL2 had aesthetically more photorealistic faces and even LESS uncanny valley than the new Eli’s head model with artificially looking eye blink animation shown in this trailer.

        I know we are all hyped for this game, but I’m not gonna pretend to not see those disappointing nuances.

    • Gonzax

      I have to completely disagree here, it doesn’t look cartoony at all to my eyes and the graphics looks stunning, actually even too good sometimes for a VR game. We can’t separate the fact it is a VR game here, anyway, you can’t expect 4K resolution or compare it to screenshots from a 2D game. The fact that is VR will make it look impressive once you’re playing it and once you are IN the game even if the resolution is going to be less of that of a 2D game, as it is to be expected.
      I am very very impressed by this trailer, I can’t think of one single thing about it that does not scream quality, to be honest.

      • Ellie 187

        Yes, i’m excited to run this through my valve index and 1080ti at 120hz

    • Darwinian

      I agree. Don’t listen to these dubiously defensive doubting Thomases. The faces look cartoony because it is a direct graphical upgrade from HL2 with no trajectory into the “photorealistic” field. In other words, it’s the same HL2 graphics, which was meant to be photorealistic, but in a new engine. The same flat-ish shading and lack of light interaction on the skin is there. I’d even say the color palette and shading is very toon like. But this was probably done on purpose, a full length VR game with photorealistic people would change the scope of the graphical workflow.

    • dayik

      Wholeheartedly agree with you. The girl Alyx talks to at the start of the game I believe gave me a Dishonored vibe.

  • MentalParadox

    So the grabbity gloves are a “precursor” to the gravity gun, despite the gloves being a far more compact form-factor (while having the same function) compared to the far more clunky gravity gun… Sounds like they just needed an in-universe justification for a game mechanic.

    • HJ

      It could also be the difference between a low power model vs. an industrial model.

      So far the g-gloves have only picked up small things (handgun), while the g-gun has the ability to pull and push things that have larger mass and/or volume (e.g. a barrel)

      The same thing can be seen in teleportation with the City 17 unit vs. the episode 2 white forest Magnussen teleporters. Developed around the same time, with different form factors built for their unique purpose.

      Or convenient game design. Either one! :)

      • GamerMuscle

        Its likely used as a justification for being able to pull things into your hands like a jedi.

        In VR picking things up from the floor or having to literally grab something as you would in real life is really annoying over time so having the game float things into you hand that you want to pick up is way more fun and enjoyable.

        Its just good game design :)

    • benz145

      The best VR games build great gameplay first and then surround it in meaningful context. So yes, this was probably their approach, and a good one at that.

    • Henry Pentecost

      yeah youre right. guess they should just not release the game.

      • MentalParadox

        Odd conclusion to come to, but okay.

  • Ryan McClelland

    Just looking at these screenshots makes my graphics card hurts (GTX 1070). I’m sure it will play, but this is the kind of game you upgrade for.

  • Immersive Computing

    “While the studio’s prior VR projects were based on Unity, Valve confirmed today that Half-Life: Alyx is built on the company’s own Source 2 engine.”

    Slight correction, “Robot Repair” in The Lab is Unreal engine…which is why many people have had problems with Robot Repair since launch. Slow loading, failing to load or broken movement after Steam updates.

    However, it’s easily the highest fidelity I’ve seen in VR, and perhaps a sign of the quality we can expect (or better) in Alyx.

    • kontis

      Robot repair is Source 2, the rest is Unity

      • Immersive Computing

        Thanks for the correction, it is Source2. Surprised it’s been so broken since launch, I had problems launching with my Vive and had problems launching with my Index!

  • Adrian Meredith

    Those graphics are some of the best I’ve seen in any game particularly the volumetric lighting and the new soft body physics (look at how squelchy the head crap falls when its shot, thats way more advanced than hl2). Pretty disappointed by the floating hands though thats literally the only downside i can see. I can’t believe how much better this is than i expected a full VR game the same length as hl2.

    also wheres dr kleiner?

    • david vincent

      “thats literally the only downside i can see”
      I am more worried about the small environnements shown. The only shootings we see is from 2m away…

      • aasdfa

        in the interview they did with geoff they mention a couple times about how distance was a big aspect of half life and will continue. Geoff also was like “i dont want to spoil anything but at the start when you leave the place and go out into the open, its a real half life feeling” and i think he was talking about a big level and scenery in front of him.

        • david vincent

          Oh ok, thanks.

  • The Bard

    Valve, if you read it. ADD ARMS AND BODY to character!

    • kontis

      Old Valve: no legs!
      New Valve: no legs! oh, and no arms too!

      Just kidding, I actually appreciate their pure immersion fetish. Alyx being voiced is a huge mistake. Gordon was a nobody, a ghost, so players could inject themselves into the game.

      • david vincent

        I am more worry of the small environnements shown.

      • I’m hoping she is only voiced in the trailer or in very limited scenes in the game. It’s not a deal breaker for me but very strange.

      • Brian (Suitch)

        I have actually found that having a voice given to me in VR has helped me in immersion. It let’s me know who I am. When I don’t have a voice, then I am just myself in VR which is really a kinda boring character.

    • I can think of two good reason Valve did not go full body. Watch this VR180 video and look down:

      • aasdfa

        wow thats some gay ass weeb shit right there.

      • RockstarRepublic

        It would definitely increase the chances of alienation. Rigging would also be a nightmare, especially with the leg movement and interaction (or lack there of) with objects on the floor. Additionally it would add more processing cost to the game, which would lower performance. For VR, performance (higher fps) is king.

        • Brian (Suitch)

          Many games have done inverse kinematics (IK), which uses the positions of the controllers to estimate the location of the rest of the arms. IK for the head, which allows crouch estimation, is also rather common. These don’t require insane resources to perform, but they do require a fair amount of upfront budget investment since it is complicated math-wise and has to undergo extensive testing to make feel as good as the other AAA titles like Asgard’s Wrath and Stormland.

    • Ellie 187

      yeah I wanna look down and see Alyx’s lady humps