The Combine are nonetheless public enemy primary in Half-Life: Alyx, however transferring the sequence to VR has finished wonders for his or her total well being, Valve have advised me. Whereas earlier than “the average lifetime of a Half-Life 2 Combine soldier was probably somewhere between 10-20 seconds,” based on Half-Life: Alyx’s lead programmer and designer Robin Walker, “as soon as we started to do play-testing in VR, we saw enemies lasting for a minute or two of life. And when you’re a development team looking at that, that’s incredibly exciting because you can do some much more with AI and performance and enemy speech.”
Indeed, Valve weren’t anticipating Half-Life: Alyx’s fight to translate very nicely into VR once they first began play-testing. They observed in a short time that gamers have been “obsessed with collecting stuff”, which allowed them to get extra mileage out of Half-Life’s extra conventional exploration components in VR, however “we had assumed that other things like combat wouldn’t come along for the ride as well, that we’d lose something there,” says Walker.
Fortunately, their play-testers proved them mistaken. “I think one of the main reasons for that is because a lot of Half-Life: Alyx is about doing a lot of the same things you’ve done before, but doing them all in new ways,” explains Walker. “For example, you’ve reloaded guns before, but here you’re going to reload guns in a very different way. Because of that, things like reloading occupy your attention fully as a player, even though you’re doing something a fair bit slower than you would if this was a non-VR game. If you press the R key in the first level of Half-Life, you’re not doing that any slower than you are in the last level or anything. That’s essentially what’s happening.
“So what we found was that combat in VR gave us the best of both worlds. Players actually take longer to do everything, but find the entire experience more involving […], and that gave us all this extra time. The number of opportunities you have to create a great experiences when you’ve got an enemy that’s going to last a minute or two instead of ten seconds is enormous.”
That additional time did trigger some additional issues for Valve, nonetheless, as early playtesters have been popping out of these encounters “feeling incredibly stressed,” says Walker, “so some of our pacing had to change.” Indeed, when Valve have been nonetheless prototyping Half-Life: Alyx, they constructed their Combine encounters with the identical rhythms of a standard Half-Life 2 combat. They had three gun fights prepared and ready for playtesters to become familiar with, however “after the first one people were saying they needed a break!” Walker recollects.
Of course, a part of that additional stress comes from the sheer physicality of taking part in a recreation in VR. “When you have fast-paced combat like when you get to the Combine, you’re re-loading, you’re scrounging for ammo, you’re taking physical cover and moving your body, and it’s just a different experience,” provides Valve’s Jim Hughes, who beforehand labored as a designer on Half-Life 2: Episode 1 and a couple of.
The finish result’s one thing that’s “definitely toned down” from their authentic plans for the sport, says Hughes, “but it felt really cool that everyone came out of [those later playtests] with the same reaction of, ‘Wow, I just felt like I experienced something.’”
Alas, maybe even the ultimate model of Valve’s Combine fights might do with being toned down a bit additional, as our Graham discovered they have been the least satisfying enemy to combat in his Half-Life: Alyx evaluation. It’s not all unhealthy, as he additionally mentioned that “aiming a weapon with your motion controllers and pulling off a single, destructive shot feels better than Half-Life’s combat ever has, and HL: Alyx’s aliens provide you with opportunities to do this again and again,” however the Combine have been a little bit of a weak hyperlink total.
Still, whereas VR has introduced sudden well being bonuses to the Combine, it’s been much less good for City 17’s resident pigeon inhabitants (not less than when RPS vid bud Matthew is round, that’s):