Leaked ‘Half-Life VR’ Code Could Offer Clues for Valve’s Upcoming VR Game


As 2019 steadily draws to a close, eyes are increasingly turning toward Valve, which said it will release its first “flagship” VR game this year. Though there’s just two and a half months before the end of the year, the company still hasn’t formally announced the game. However, a series of code leaks suggest that it will indeed be a Half-Life VR game.

For several years now, Valve says its been working on not one, but three VR titles. Earlier this year the company confirmed that the first, which it described as a “flagship VR game,” would launch in 2019.

Beyond that, the company hasn’t said anything about the game. We don’t even know the name of the title, let alone what kind of game it will be. But Tyler McVicker, the mind behind YouTube channel Valve News Network, thinks he has a pretty good idea.

For years McVicker has been trawling the source code of Valve’s publicly released games and game tools, and has spotted telling clues here and there which point to the development of a ‘HLVR’ project, which McVicker believes represents a ‘Half-Life VR’ game, the same which Valve has said will ship this year. In a new video, he offers an overview of the evidence that he’s found and outlines what it could tell us about the upcoming Valve VR game:

While some of McVicker’s broader claims sound like pure speculation with a bit of fanboyism, there certainly appears to be plenty concrete evidence in the form of the many ‘HLVR’ and ‘VR’ code strings which have been found; these are plaintext references to objects, attributes, and systems which underpin the game, and could reveal quite a bit about what kinds of enemies, weapons, interactions, and settings the game will be built around.

From his research, McVicker believes that Valve’s upcoming VR game will be a Half-Life VR game set in the 20 year period between Half-Life and Half-Life 2. The player, he says, will play the role of Alex Vance, a central character in Half-Life 2.

Valve VR Dev is "Dying to share all the exciting things" in Development

He goes on to overview some of the specific objects and interactions the game will likely contain, including the hilarious and aptly named ‘Grabbity Gloves’, which are a clear reference to the Gravity Gun from Half-Life 2, but can also be sensibly expected to allow players to use ‘force-grab’, a technique commonly used in VR game design to make item interactions easier by allowing players to grab objects from a distance.

‘Half-Life 2’ artwork | Image courtesy Valve, Andrew Ivanchenko

Of course it’s worth noting that not everything uncovered will definitely make it into the game. Some of the code that’s been found could be from experiments and the like; this might be one of Valve’s VR games but not necessarily the first one that will launch; and there’s surely heaps of code that isn’t actually out in the public yet which could radically alter our understanding of what the game will be. Granted, if the uncovered code does represent an active project, looking broadly at what’s there does seem to point quite specifically at a Half-Life VR game.

From his research, McVicker believes the title will be a single-player, story driven game, and have a AAA scope with 12-16 hours of gameplay. And while Valve said the game will launch in 2019, the company is well known for missing self-imposed deadlines; McVicker expects the game will get a formal announcement in 2019 but not launch until early 2020.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Oneben

    It’ll likely be best played on an Index, which I still can’t get in Canada, therefore it’s pretty irrelevant to me. Happy for everyone else though.

    • 3872Orcs

      I think we’ll see a worldwide launch of the Index once the game release. It would be crazy if not considering the game. It would confuse a lot of gamers when they see the advertisement of Half Life VR and Index and then not being able to order the VR equipment to play the game.

    • Jeff

      You can get them, I got one shortly after launch, it just requires some….effort.

      • 3872Orcs

        Not a realistic option for most people though. I did the same but I was a desperate enthusiast.

        • Jeff

          It’s really not difficult though? Importer or US mailbox. I paid $1204 for HMD and Knuckles- likely very close to what they will retail for when they come to amazon and EBGames.

          • Sven Viking

            Someone said they’ve made it a bit more difficult recently, with CC billing addresses needing to be within the US and many freight forwarders blacklisted. I assume any RMA process is likely to be more complicated also.

    • Jarilo

      Kind of like Canada, irrelevant to everyone else. I’m just kidding lol, I don’t get why they never brought it there yet, puzzling.

      • Sven Viking

        Or to Hawaii or Alaska…

  • namekuseijin

    “The player, he says, will play the role of Alex Vance, a central character in Half-Life 2.” well, that won’t move VR. Nothing would but HL3 in VR with you as Gordon Freeman. same deal why Doom Vfr as you’re not Doomguy.

    it really irks me that in VR you’re always some sidekick (as in Astro Bot), or some clumsy robot or avatar in a simulation (because on TV it’s the real deal) or some anonymous or irrelevant protagonist…

    • benz145

      IMO the character choice is not going to have a major impact on whether or not the game moves VR. It’ll come down to if the game is good and is well received and widely recommended.

      That said, I agree that there hasn’t been a VR game yet that has done a great job of making your actual avatar/character feel really intertwined with the world.

      • vtid

        Maybe Lone Echo is an exception, but otherwise I agree.

        • benz145

          Lone Echo definitely did it well, at least better than most games anyway!

    • HL3 has too much expectations… it is a risky move to make it. Better making a HL1.5 like this one

      • Jarilo

        The Index and all of VR in general for Valve is a risky move, they put so much time and money into a VR kit. What better way to risk HL3 on. If it fails they both burn the ground and Steam just goes back to being a filthy rich PC store anyway.

    • MentalParadox

      Gordon is a huwhite male, that’s why you can’t be Gordon in current year.

      • namekuseijin

        could be Gordona Freewoman in portuguese and it would perfectly describe most feminazis LOL

    • Jarilo

      Not to mention people are getting sick and tired with having men replaced at every chance with a female or black transgender cripple.

  • Zachary Scott Dickerson

    Thank you Valve. Valve was revolutionary when they made HL1. I remember it was one of the first 3D games that had skeletal physics and a bunch of new concepts.

  • 3872Orcs

    Would it not be kind of weird to hear another persons voice as your voice when playing? Alex was kind of chatty in Half Life 2, I’m not sure that would fit in the context of this games universe. it would be a first if Valve chose to have the protagonist speak for the player, would kind of break with tradition in the series. In VR would you not rather feel like playing as yourself or be the silent protagonist?

    Also it would be kind of weird to see the arms/body of Alex as your own body. I think we’ll rather play as some resistance soldier and choose our own sex and looks. I doubt we’ll play as Alex Vance.

    • Mateusz Pawluczuk

      Female gamers had to up with male character models for decades but yeah choosing your looks would be best for VR game.

      • Jarilo

        Women don’t like video games in general so they didn’t put up with shit. Over 90% of all VR gamers are male, the minority can put up with it too bad. Build the game to suit the market.

      • RockstarRepublic

        Most female gamers prefer other genres or more social games. The gaming arena, especially for these types of games, was largely a male sphere. I don’t think it is good to keep widdling away at male spheres just to appease women, who already have their own and get more on top of it.

        • Jarilo

          Most women who have VR I know just play Beat Saber Imagine Dragons all day. Some soy boy bitch white knight voted us down for saying a fact. lmao

          • RockstarRepublic

            They simply refuse to accept reality. Its a crazy thought that on average, men and woman like totally different things. Our brains are literally wired differently. Too many socialist out there want to change this through social engineering and behavioral conditioning, but in large it doesn’t work.

          • Jarilo

            Comment edited to include plural.

    • Jarilo

      “Would it not be kind of weird to hear another persons voice as your voice when playing?”

      Yes, god did it make the game Torn freaking annoying.

  • johann jensson

    That article image on top almost caused me a heart attack. RoadToVR, don’t do this to me… :-D

    • R3ST4RT

      I almost dropped my phone when I saw the article image…..I thought “OMFG TODAY IS THE DAY”

      • johann jensson

        “today is the day” indeed. Sadly not. Yet. []-)

      • Jarilo

        Half Life prequel VR wave shooter experience as Alex Vance!! You guys ready or what?!

  • Hypppeee!!

  • JesuSaveSouls

    Jesusavesouls !

  • blue5peed

    I’m beside myself with hype.

  • Mateusz Pawluczuk

    There was a break into Valve Headquaters on 8th of Oct so when I saw RoadToVr headline I thought this is it ^_^’

    • Jarilo

      Someone rushed it like Area 51? Trying to see if there is Half Life 3 there.

  • Jarilo

    It needs to be Gordon Freeman or it’s fucked out of the gate. Even if it’s good. Gordon Freeman is Half Life.

  • Jarilo

    It’s Half Life, not Team Fortress 2 man. I sure hope it won’t have Half Life VR hats economy.

  • RockstarRepublic

    This is the last thing I want to see happen with the HL franchise. We don’t need a rehash, or a prequel, or a sequel featuring Alex. If this is what Valve is for their VR offering, I won’t be a customer.

  • RockstarRepublic

    From an artist stand point, I love their user generated content
    markets. Often the artist and gamers do a better job than those employed at the studio to begin with. The problem isn’t the “microcrap” as you put it, so much as it is Valve’s downward spiral into being a game publisher and distributor
    over being a game developer. It has messed with their priorities. Where before they seemed to be interested in the craft, now they are too busy being interested in the profit.

  • sebrk

    How does this man have access to the source code of any commercial Valve game? I’m guessing he is parsing strings and symbols from the binaries and not actually the source code?

    • Andrew Fox

      They release mod SDKs for the Source Engine and DOTA2 has Source 2 Engine SDK. These SDKs have tons of source code and header files that don’t directly relate to those games and have references to other projects.

  • Sven Viking

    Not important, but it’s Alyx Vance with a ‘y’.

  • mAc

    you are not alone

    • Immersive Computing

      At least I finally spent some quality time doing seated VR with Assetto Corsa, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice and House of the Dying Sun, bought an Xbox controller when the first Index controllers went back for RMA and it’s been very useful since

  • Arcticu Kitsu

    Awesome. Bring it on. While some people moan below this’ll be awesome. Bring it on :)

  • antonio mora

    I just found this:


    I think this is excellent news. I’m at work but will download as soon as I get home.

  • Umaro The Angry Hamster

    Oh boy another speculated rumor created by Tyler of VNN. The same person who’s time after time proved to have been false.