Valve answered the questions you can read in the title, especially why is Half-Life: Alyx: a Prequel?
Half-Life: Alyx seems to be a success, and it could benefit the VR genre and hardware – yet, it’s not Half-Life 3. Dario Casali (level designer) and Greg Coomer (designer) told the EDGE magazine in an interview (which was quoted by WCCFTech) why this is the case.
„There was a reason we decided to make it a prequel. We recognised that the VR platform was limited in the audience – and we also recognised that this was not Half-Life 3. We didn’t want to put out a product, not every Half-Life fan could play that would advance the storyline beyond where HL2 was, and leave all these people without VR headsets saying, ‘Hey, why can’t we participate in this?’,” Casali said. „In some ways, it was a tough decision to make this instalment one that is, in terms of hardware, not accessible to a huge number of people who would like to play it. That was a thing we wrestled with, and one of the things that we’re still going to wrestle with down the road. It’s not our goal to only make Half-Life games for a relatively small audience,” Coomer added.
It seems to suggest that Half-Life 3 couldn’t be a VR-exclusive game until VR gains more market share to be mainstream. Still, the team explained that despite being a prequel, it is an interesting story. „There’s this space between Half-Life 1 and 2 which was completely unexplored. That was super-exciting to me because, as a fan, I was always into the lore side of things,” Robert Briscoe, an artist from Valve said. „In ways that prequels often do, Alyx does advance the storyline – just not directly, chronologically, past Half-Life 2,” Coomer added.
Robin Walker, a programmer at Valve, told Kotaku why there is no crowbar in Half-Life: Alyx: „The lack of force feedback meant that players would often hold their crowbar out of their sight because that’s what you do when you’re holding a real crowbar—you wouldn’t look at it all the time, but then they’d hook it on stuff. They’d be walking along, and then they’d hook it on a door,” he said. Ouch. And he says they wasted 1.5 years with the crowbar.
They tried to fix the issue by turning off the crowbar’s collision detection or by buzzing the controller with haptic feedback in case it gets stuck somewhere, but neither solutions worked. The crowbar also seemed problematic with melee, which is why Half-Life: Alyx became a shooter.
The other explanation is about Half-Life: Alyx: a Prequel is hilarious: we’d have believed that we are Gordon Freeman and not Alyx Vance if we had the crowbar in our hand. During testing, Valve asked the players to describe their story and experiences, but they thought they were controlling Gordon Freeman, despite openly stating in the beginning that it is not the case.
Weird but honest answers…