Fans have been clamoring for a new Half-Life for years, ever since the 2007 release of Half-Life 2: Episode Two. Unfortunately, in the years since, we’ve heard zilch about it from Valve, the company responsible.
The excitement around this hypothetical game is valid for a number of reasons. For one, the previous games in the series are all extremely good. In fact, they’re some of the best first-person shooters of all time, and they’ve had a direct influence on many modern games in the genre.
Another reason we’d love a new Half-Life is that the last game ended on a killer cliffhanger. The story is great, and the idea that we might not find out how it ends is a huge bummer. So yes, we want Half-Life 3, or Half-Life 2: Episode Three, or Rise of the Half-Life, or whatever they want to call it. We just want to play the game.
One of Valve’s current projects is the Vive virtual reality headset, which is currently in development with the help of hardware manufacturer HTC. Based on early demos, this VR headset appears to be among the best of the ones currently in the works — and potentially better than Sony’s Project Morpheus and Facebook’s Oculus Rift.
I think there’s a good chance Valve is planning to release Half-Life 3 as a VR game. Here’s why.
Valve wants a killer app for Vive
Convincing anyone but core gamers and wealthy tech enthusiasts to buy an expensive new piece of hardware is always a tough sell. Whenever a new gaming platform comes out, most people wait for a “killer app,” a piece of software that’s so good that it makes the pricey hardware worth buying.
The hotly anticipated Half-Life 3 wouldn’t just be a killer app — it would be the ultimate killer app. If Valve released the game as a Vive exclusive, they’d sell tons of headsets, almost guaranteed.
Half-Life has always been strictly first-person
At no point during any Half-Life game do you get out of Gordon Freeman’s head. From the very beginning of this series to the end of the last game, you are Gordon Freeman. There are no cinematic cutscenes that take place from a third-person perspective. There are no other playable characters. It’s just you, the player, viewing the world through the eyes of Gordon Freeman.
Let’s think about that for a moment. What’s the most natural way to represent an uninterrupted first-person viewpoint in a game? By having you look through the character’s eyes. And what’s the most fundamental way to do that?
Valve is experimenting with Half-Life in VR
After testing Valve’s virtual reality demo at the Game Developer’s Conference in March, Kotaku’s Nathan Grayson asked flat-out if we can expect Half-Life in VR in some form or other. According to the article, the reply was, “We’re not saying ’no.’”
Here’s more from the conversation:
”We’ve said, ‘Let’s take some existing art and see how it fits,'” Valve programmer Jeep Barnett told me during an interview. “So yeah, we’ll grab some headcrabs, we’ll grab the machine guns from Half-Life, the rocket launcher—all those different fun things—and see how they play in VR. But right now, it’s a tool for exploring the different kind of game designs we want to do.”
So yes, they’re experimenting with Half-Life in VR. Obviously that’s a long way from confirmation of Half-Life 3 in VR, but it’s a step in that direction.
I have no inside information on this. I don’t know if a first-person shooter would work well in VR. But if it would, and if Valve can figure it out, I bet Half-Life 3 launches as a VR game for Vive.