2020 is almost here, so we’ve asked GameSpot’s staff to share which games they’re looking forward to most in the new year. New consoles are going to dominate the headlines, but at the end of the day it’s all about the games, and there are a ton of exciting ones to look forward to. When you’re done reading this entry, follow along with all of our other end-of-the-year coverage collected in our Best of 2019 hub and our Most Anticipated of 2020 hub.
In 2019, Valve almost gave Half-Life fans what they wanted with the official announcement of the upcoming prequel Half-Life: Alyx. But when it announced that the next Half-Life game would be a full-length VR-exclusive prequel to Half-Life 2 rather than the concluding story everyone expected, many grew skeptical. I certainly had my doubts at first. After all, I could easily see its exclusivity as a means for Valve to sell more of its recently-released Index headset. However, those concerns were laid to rest with the game’s first trailer. Now I am convinced that Valve is ready to change the way we play virtual reality games, and will shake up the video game industry once again.
Half-Life: Alyx follows the story of Alyx Vance before Gordon Freeman’s arrival in City 17. As fans know, the events of the first game triggered a massive alien zombie epidemic from a lab experiment gone wrong at the Black Mesa facility. Half-Life: Alyx will most likely fill in the blanks between the first and second game with plenty of surprises up its sleeves–if the spirit of previous Half-Life games is to be of any indication.
Every detail in the first trailer had me in absolute shock. The game seems to pull from the best ideas that Half-Life 2 introduced while exploring the lingering questions the franchise left us with. But what most excites me about Half-Life: Alyx is the potential in interaction being explored in the game. The truth is, VR has often left me wanting more since I feel that the medium is still several notches shy of true immersion. Based on the trailer, no such concern has been raised, and truthfully, it’s the pedigree that Valve boasted in how Half-Life 1 and 2 radically shifted how we think of first-person shooters that has me convinced VR might be a great choice. I believe Valve’s implementation of VR will be Half-Life: Alyx’s highlight and pave the way for other developers to follow suit. I can already see how the new gloves Alyx uses is bringing gravity gun tricks back into the fray through intriguing-looking combat, and how immersive it might be to peek out from cover or comb through rubble for scarce ammunition. Most of all, I eagerly await and dread the sheer terror I will probably encounter when I turn around just in time to see a headcrab launch itself right at my face.
The early release date is also too much for me to process fully. Here I was accepting that Half-Life 3 became the gaming world’s favorite meme, and now I’m staring down a March 2020 release date for the only other thing that could get me just as excited. Half-Life: Alyx has its work cut out for it considering the massive expectations fans have from the series, but I’m excited to see what Valve will offer. We are at the precipice of a brand new decade of ground-breaking titles, and it is exciting that Valve seems to be cracking its knuckles, eager to get the first shot.