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Half-Life: Alyx tech analysis - a VR masterpiece that must be experienced

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It's not often that a new title arrives that genuinely moves gaming forward - but that's exactly what Half-Life: Alyx delivers, showcasing virtual reality in ways that have never been attempted before, backed up by top-class design and brilliant production values. Some might say it's the first true triple-A experience for the VR medium but that should come as no surprise: as a franchise, Half-Life has always focused on breaking barriers. From the original game and its cinematic, continuous world to Half-Life 2 and its focus on physical interaction, this is a series that is synonymous with innovation and that takes on a new dimension - literally - in this new adventure.

It's been a while since we last visited City 17 and much has changed from a technological standpoint. This time, the journey is framed by Valve's Source 2 Engine. While the core technology been around for some time, this is the most ambitious game yet developed on this platform. The challenges tackled by this engine are certainly significant - faster refresh rates are required by default to power headsets that usually run at 90Hz, but Valve also wanted to deliver one of the most detailed VR experiences yet.

What this means is a game world built around gorgeous, realistic physically-based materials with a lot of care poured into every corner of the world. In VR, even the most minor detail can be studied up close, meaning that all aspects of the presentation require an exceptional level of detail. The art team has done a remarkable job here - the size and scale of the world is almost perfect and the wow moments in transitioning from a tightly enclosed environment into a bigger, wider world fully deliver.

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