The crowbar, the iconic weapon of Half-Life protagonist Gordon Freeman, is nowhere to be found in Half-Life: Alyx, and Valve designer and programmer Robin Walker revealed why that is the case.
In an interview with Kotaku, Walker said that the Half-Life: Alyx development team “lost, like, a year and a half of our lives trying to get a crowbar in VR.”
Walker revealed that the crowbar created interesting gameplay scenarios, including puzzles that were solved by using the tool to reach through tight spaces and pull something towards the player. But it appears that the crowbar resulted in too many problems.
According to Walker, players testing Half-Life: Alyx would forget that they were holding the crowbar, so it kept hooking on things. The programmers tried fixing that by turning its physics off and stopping it from colliding with objects while it is off-screen, but nothing proved effective.
Walker also said that the crowbar, as the iconic melee weapon of the series, did not fit into Half-Life: Alyx, which primarily uses ranged combat.
The biggest problem that resulted in the removal of the crowbar, however, is that players thought that if they were holding it, they were playing as Gordon.
“It didn’t matter how much we told them, like, literally at the start of the game, that they aren’t Gordon,” Walker said. “We would finish playtests and ask players, ‘So tell us what’s happened so far. Tell us everything you learned about the state of the world and what the story’s about.’ And the players would think they’re Gordon.”
Valve wanted to maintain a unique identity for Alyx, and with the crowbar so closely associated with Gordon, the alien-killing weapon was removed from Half-Life: Alyx.
Half-Life: Alyx, which is set between the events of Half-Life and Half-Life 2, significantly boosted sales of the Valve Index, as all purchases of the VR headset came with a free copy of the game. The massive demand, in conjunction with supply chain disruptions, resulted in a shortage of stocks for the VR headset, though it went on sale again for a limited time earlier this month.
Valve programmer David Speyrer hinted in an interview with The Verge in November last year that if Half-Life: Alyx succeeds, Half-Life 3 may be under consideration. It remains to be seen if that will indeed happen, but in the meantime, Valve expects the series’ dedicated fan base to create a mod that will allow Half-Life: Alyx to be played outside of virtual reality.
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