Okay, it's technically not Half-Life 3 according to Valve, but this chronological prequel to Half-Life 2 is very much a Half-Life game. This is no spin-off, and it has all the polish, substance, and innovation that you would expect from Valve. HLA is their flag-ship game to celebrate their solo entry into the VR hardware space with Index. You don't need an Index or its unique controllers to play this game, but owners of the controllers will benefit from having its finger-tracking tech. I pre-ordered the controllers (which will work with my Vive) the same day I pre-ordered HLA. HLA is free for owners of the Index or its controllers, but since the hardware is currently out of stock I had to pony up the money to play the game. However, knowing Good Guy Gabe, I'm sure I'll be refunded for the game once my controllers are ready to ship.
It's clearly been in development for a long time. The campaign is said to be about 20 hours, and after only 2 I'm already impressed, especially with the grappling beam mechanic which, together with the teleport function and crouch toggle make it very easy to play with my Virtuix Omni. Here's my first highlight reel:
Of course, we're a few years into the VR revival now and have already seen plenty of great gameplay mechanics, but one area that has been relatively neglected is narrative. Valve were renowned for pushing gameplay narrative to new heights with Half-Life, so you'll be pleased to hear that they seem to have brought that same sensitivity to Half-Life: Alyx. While it's too soon for me to give this a score, if the quality I've seen is maintained, this could be a 10/10.
If you don't own a VR headset yet, now is a great time to get on board!