When we last saw Alyx Vance, she was being “hired” by interdimensional talent recruiter G-Man, who locked her in stasis while awaiting her next mission at the end of Half-Life: Alyx. Ordinary G-Man stuff, no big deal.
Officially, we don’t know when this mission will take place. We don’t know if the next Half-Life game will be a VR title or a desktop game, when it will be released, or if Valve is actually working on it. Half-Life 3 (or even Half-Life: Alyx 2) has yet to be confirmed. We may be in for a long, long wait.
But in the meantime, we have Levitation to wait. It is a mod for Half-Life: Alyx created by map designer and CS:GO artist Shawn Snelling (FMPONE), animator and G-Man meme generator Corey Laddo, and other volunteer modders, animators, and voice actors. This new free campaign is a DLC-sized action adventure that will last between 4 and 5 hours. As shown on the PC Gaming Show, here’s a seven-minute gameplay trailer that looks just as exciting and polished as the real game.
While the original trailer (opens in new tab) for Levitation showed, two members of the human resistance discovered a bizarre floating apartment building in City 17 at the end of Half-Life: Alyx.
“The basic premise involves Alyx receiving a distress signal from two resistance members Maya and Barry about secret Combine technology buried in a section of the Quarantine Zone known as Sector X,” Corey Laddo told me over email. “With Russell’s help, Alyx delves deep into Combine territory to investigate this threat and search for Maya and Barry. It’s a completely separate Half-Life adventure that uses Alyx’s ending as a springboard for the narrative.”
The gameplay trailer shows Alyx fighting many Combine soldiers and headcrab zombies as she travels deeper into the sector and tries to identify the source of a massive energy signature. Russell suggests that they might actually be closing in on a certain long-lost bespectacled theoretical physicist. It might be. Perhaps.
“It’s probably Gordon Freeman and it’s not bad at all,” Russell tells Alyx in the game’s trailer as she makes her way through the quarantine zone. “Definitely, ah… definitely, probablyGordon Freeman. watching from afar.
G-Man is no stranger to Corey Laddo, who has been animating him in bizarre and hilarious memes for years, whether making him dance in the Once In A Lifetime music video (opens in new tab)having him host a cooking show (opens in new tab)marveling High fidelity 4K bread (opens in new tab) in the Source 2 engine, or just playing with freeman (opens in new tab). In Levitation, however, while Russell is available for some comic relief, Laddo is sticking to the serious, canon version of G-Man.
“It’s definitely a breath of fresh air to fully animate a character as he is rather than a meme,” says Laddo. “I thought I’d play straight when animating for the mod.” We won’t see G-Man performing any dance routines, in other words. Shame.
When Alyx arrives at the construction site, she fights more Combine along with manhacks, the flying drones, and with no heavy weaponry on hand, she has to use cover to avoid being attacked by the strider’s cannon. While we still don’t know what the Combine were doing in Sector X, we can see some massive digging machines before the end of the game’s trailer, indicating that in order to climb up to the floating apartment block, Alyx may first need to go deep underground.
Creating the VR mod posed a challenge for the Levitation team and, according to Laddo, was much more complicated than the previous modding and mapping projects the creators had done before.
“There’s not a ton of [documentation] available for Source 2, as opposed to Source, so we’ve received much-appreciated help from talented modders within the Source 2 community regarding troubleshooting,” says Laddo. or seeing anything I shouldn’t. It’s been a very interesting experience, as I’ve never been excited for a game project before.”
Levitation introduces some new characters, like Alyx’s resistance members Maya and Barry, but it also has the familiar faces mentioned above. Considering the improbability of recruiting the original voice actors (Russell, for example, is voiced by New Zealand actor Rhys Darby of Flight of the Conchords and Our Flag Means Death), the Levitation team looked for replacements.
“For G-Man, we wanted someone who could provide that sinister, unnatural tone that the character is known for, and then we discovered VoxPlay that really impressed us with his talent,” says Laddo. “It’s a slightly different take on the character than what we’re used to, and the community has been divided on the voice, but I think we made the right choice. As for Russell, we found Joey Bracken (opens in new tab) who does the best Rhys Darby impersonation I think I’ve ever heard. Is weird.”
As for VR itself, Laddo thinks it’s still in its infancy, but it has a lot of promise for the future. “The hardware is constantly improving year by year, and we’ve had a lot of quality games so far, like Boneworks, that have really advanced VR game design. I think PSVR 2 could end up contributing heavily to the future of VR if it’s a success.” and may lead to more attempts at the platform by triple-A developers.”
As for Valve’s next move when it comes to Half-Life, Laddo would be happy either way: if it’s a VR title or a desktop game like previous titles.
“If they can improve their VR formula, I think Half-Life 3 might be unrealistic, however a classic-style Half-Life game would be just as desirable,” says Laddo. “I think we can still see Half-Life 3, but I think it will take a while.” Until then, at least we’ll have Levitation to play with while we wait.