If you own a Valve Index VR headset then you can now preview two locations from Half-Life: Alyx. If you don’t own one then the good news is that they’ll be back in stock next week.
Valve released the two Half-Life: Alyx preview environments through SteamVR Home so all you need to do is download them from there. If you don’t own a Valve Index then you can try asking someone who does own one to host a SteamVR Home session for you.
The first location is an alleyway inside City 17, the metropolis that was first introduced to the series in Half-Life 2. There are buildings on either side of you so you’re going to feel pretty boxed in. However, the main feature can be seen if you look up and to the distance, as you’ll be able to spot the towering Citadel looming over you. As Half-Life: Alyx is a prequel, the Citadel is currently in construction, whereas when it’s seen in Half-Life 2 it’s finished.
The second preview environment is Russell’s laboratory. Russel is a new character being introduced in Half-Life: Alyx, so not much is known about him except that he’s a member of the resistance.
His lab looks pretty makeshift, it comprises a few computers, lots of fans, and a fridge. It appears to be set up in the corner of a rundown apartment where some of the wall is missing, and the decorations are some aging wallpaper and a couple of rugs thrown over floorboards.
“The rendering technology available in SteamVR’s native environments is different than that in Half-Life: Alyx, and the interactivity is significantly lower than what the game itself provides,” Valve notes. “So while these scenes do not have quite as much fidelity as they will in the actual game, we think they are a faithful enough translation to provide a fun VR preview of the game’s setting.”
Alongside the release of these two preview environments, Valve has announced that after weeks of being out of stock, its Index VR system will be available to buy again on March 9, 2020, at 10am PST / 5pm GMT.
Valve says it expects the stock to run out quickly, but any orders that go through after that supply has run out will be fulfilled when more stock comes in over the coming months. So if you don’t get an Index system from this next batch then you’ll get it eventually, but probably not in time for Half-Life: Alyx’s launch on March 23. You can always try buying another VR headset if you want to play the game on launch day.
Our Valve Index review gave it an 8.5 and said that it’s “the best way to experience VR right now.” As to Half-Life: Alyx, if you can’t stand the wait then check out 19 minutes of gameplay, and pray that we’ll have more Half-Life games on the way after this one.
Chris Priestman is a freelancer who writes news for IGN. Follow him on Twitter.