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There's A New Way To Experience Half-Life: Alyx

Half-Life: Alyx added a new chapter to the Half-Life mythos when the virtual reality-based first-person shooter released back in March 2020. Now, you can learn even more about the world with the addition of developer commentary into the game.

Valve announced the perk on Twitter, saying, "Developer commentary is now available to all owners of Half-Life: Alyx, and features over three hours of audio from the team covering every aspect of design. The Developer Commentary also supports subtitles in over 10 languages."

A release about the addition noted that, as with many projects in 2020, the development of Half-Life: Alyx was affected by COVID-19 lockdowns. While the game came out on time, the team at Valve was unable to complete some planned inclusions, including the developer commentary and Steam Workshop integration. Steam Workshop integration (including a level editor) came out in May, and the developer commentary portion has been completed now that the developers "have had time to reflect on the development of Half-Life: Alyx" and been able to record their voiceovers from "closets and blanket forts around greater Seattle."

If you have a VR headset that's PC compatible or an Oculus Quest, you can access this feature in Half-Life: Alyx by starting a new game with Developer Commentary enabled. There are 147 points of interest within the game where you'll find a floating headset you can don. A status panel will show the playback's progress and who's speaking. You can remove the headset to stop playback, and dropping the unit will return it to its location. 

Through the commentary, you can learn about design, art, animation, rendering, sound, and more. Note that there are "significant spoilers," so you may wish to go through the entire game once before listening to the commentary. Subtitles for the commentary are available in English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Castilian Spanish, Latin American Spanish, Russian, Polish, Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese.

Half-Life: Alyx, considered to be a full-fledged entry in the franchise, is set between Half-Life and Half-Life 2. The full-length VR game focuses on Dr. Eli Vance and his daughter Alyx, who have founded a fledgling resistance against the Combine's occupation of Earth in the wake of the loss of the Seven-Hour War. The game takes place in City 17, where the Vances have relocated. It's the first Half-Life title since 2007, when Half-Life 2: Episode Two released. Ars Technica reported that Half-Life: Alyx took four years to develop and its success may determine both the future of Valve's VR interest and the direction of the Half-Life series.

Valve developer Robin Walker told Game Informer in March that this return to the world may very well indicate more to come, which offers hope for fans who aren't going to be satisfied by this news — or any news from the developer — until Half-Life 3 is announced. "Half-Life means a lot to us, and it's been incredibly rewarding to refamiliarize ourselves with its characters, setting, and mechanics," Wilson said. "We absolutely see Half-Life: Alyx as our return to this world, not the end of it."