Every journalism bone in my body is yelling at me to stop, that there’s no way this can be right, but by all accounts Valve will announce a brand-new Half-Life game this Thursday at 10 a.m. Pacific time. (Bones can yell now, it’s horrible.) Half-Life: Alyx is Valve’s “flagship VR game,” which we assume involves Alyx Vance of Half-Life 2 fame, according to the announcement tweet embedded below. One might conclude that the need to designate a game as a “flagship” game would indicate that there are other, non-flagship VR titles in the works, but this is Valve so it’s literally impossible to know.
The announcement was made by a Valve Twitter account registered in June of this year, which has only ever tweeted this tweet. The account is verified, but these are all still red flags. An announcement of a new Half-Life game? From a “Valve” account that’s never tweeted before?? Did someone hack one of those low-follower verified accounts and turn it into a Valve mouthpiece for which to perpetrate an hoax???? Friends, I too was unconvinced — until the official Steam Twitter account retweeted the announcement. Unless the hackers obtained control of that account as well, there’s pretty much no denying it at this point. Half-Life: Alyx is real, and it’s a VR game from Valve that we’ll learn more about this Thursday.
My journalism bones were also upset because this isn’t a real announcement, it’s an Announcement Announcement™ (an announcement of an announcement (or AA™)), and as a rule I try and write about as few of those as humanly possible. Reporting on an Announcement Announcement™ is just doing someone else’s PR for them a lot of the time, since an AA™ typically contains no information beyond the absolute barest of minimums, and sometimes not even that. Brands love to “tease something big this Friday!” without providing any further details, expecting that to be enough to whet our whistles while in reality our whistles stay decidedly blunt.
We’re excited to unveil Half-Life: Alyx, our flagship VR game, this Thursday at 10am Pacific Time.
Can’t wait to share it with all of you! pic.twitter.com/BupFCxSrTw
— Valve (@valvesoftware) November 18, 2019
In situations like this, however, where the announcement comes from a legendarily opaque organization that interfaces with the public as little as is humanly possible, an exception can and has been made. The last time Valve even tangentially touched the Half-Life universe was in 2016’s proof of concept VR showcase The Lab, which took place primarily in the world of the Portal series, which inhabits the same continuity as Half-Life.
Before that, Portal 2 in 2011 was the last conventional game to interact with Half-Life lore in any way, and before that, 2007’s Half-Life 2: Episode Two was the last game with “Half-Life” in the title. Today’s announcement therefore follows more than a decade’s worth of silence, rumors, leaks, and ballyhoo around the future of the beloved franchise that revolutionized first-person shooters with the release of the original Half-Life in 1998.
We’ll have more for you on Thursday morning of course, as the world collectively learns about whatever the Hell this thing is. Maybe Norman Reedus is in it?