So I've had Oculus Quest with ability to connect to PC for a while now and I've played many VR games so far. Not all of them, definitely not but enough to say Half-Life Alyx misses several marks that could've improved it significantly. And it could still be improved would devs release patches for such things because I feel like this game lacks in the feel.
So the following marks are missed that seem to be better addressed in some other games:
- Not enough interactable objects,
- The world is filled with objects, devices and so on but only in the opening level there are appropriate amounts of interactability. After you leave the first level, the most you get is just junk you can hold and pick up and that's it – most switches and devices you see, if they have nothing to do with progressing the game, can't be interacted with. Even something as simple as that living slime that seems to be everywhere – it barely reacts to you, your shots or touches despite clearly being alive and moving around.
- Objects lack any real weight – as far as feeling is concerned,
- Go ahead, pick up a brick, throw it against a wall and a bucket – they sound similarily without a real feeling of impact. When I throw a brick or a bottle, I expect appropriate impact and it seems like it has more to do with sound design than the objects themselves. because objects do have weight properties – you can't lift some things with one hand that are too heavy but when you hit them, push them, they sound like empty boxes or something.
- I, personally, feel that this isn't working well for the feeling of realism either – if objects are too heavy to pick up or push around with one hand, your hand's grip slips off of it – in real life, if something is too heavy, your grip doesn't slide off but you simply can't lift it. In other games where tolerances of hand trailing back is greater for heavier objects, feels better. I guess I would have the tolerance before the hand slips increased as a minimum.
- Your hands have no impact,
- Sure you have feminine hands but if I try punching a wall, even a feminine wrist should have some form of impact but instead, it's like hitting a cushion. A small glass that should be breakable with hand – nope, your hand glides all over it. This may be a result of them trying to make sure hands don't pass-through objects but I feel like they should have paid more attention to this as it really makes me feel like I am operating a robot than me being the character.
Why does the game have these problems?
I believe Engineers+Product Owner didn't have enough time to work it out – they defined the MVP (Minimum Viable Product), managed to put in some nice-to-haves (liquid in bottles) and then there was a release and they are done. The people who worked on it weren't assigned to the project 100% anymore, only to maintain any bugs and so on. They should have had the same team(s) assigned to the product for two to three more major patch releases to improve the feel of the game because VR gaming community is only growing, they will only see more players and to what value if competing games will feel nicer.
When thinking of "the feel" in the VR games I love the progress one dev is making with his game: Ancient Dungeon –
Yes, the content of it is far from what HL: Alyx is but jump into it and try cutting some blades of grass or throwing a knife against a zombie. It feels satisfying, solid. And there are other games that handle it well, it's just one of the simpler examples.
When one of my friends asked me what game then is better, I shamelessly said "Pro Putt TopGolf" – they didn't like my answer – even if the game lacks in story, any extra objects and so on – the game was made with the purpose making an enhanced mini-golf experience and they nailed it. Whereas HL: Alyx was made to capture Half-Life world in VR and they didn't nail it.
interestingly, in HL: Alyx you can put your hand on your mouth and it snaps to it – this was a nice detail, I just wish more details like these would've been included.
What do you guys think about HL: Alyx?
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