Half-Life: Alyx’s ending and what comes next
Half-Life: Alyxends the place Half-Life 2: Episode Twoends, after having modified every part we thought we knew about the place the story was going, or what is going to occur subsequent.
It’s a neat trick for a prequel. What may need been a sport that saved the story in a holding sample grew to become one thing that adjustments the character of Half-Life’s narrative as we thought we understood it.
However in fact, to go any additional, and to ask the sport’s writers about what all of it means, we’re going to need to spoil some stuff.
As we’ve reported earlier than, there doesn’t appear to be a lot query about whether or not there can be extra Half-Life video gamessooner or later. What these video gamescan be, nonetheless, is up for some debate.
“There’s actually no bible that lays every part out for the subsequent three video games, I’d love that, if Marc [Laidlaw, Half-Life’s original writer] had some secret guide,” Valve author (kinda) Erik Wolpaw instructed Polygon, laughing. “That might have been super.”
“The ending actually suggests sure instructions that we’re all actually enthusiastic about, so it’s not like there’s no thought, however no, there’s not a concrete, 300-page guide of the place the sport goes after this,” Valve author Jay Pinkerton stated in settlement.
So let’s speak about that ending, as a result of it’s a doozy, and it actually does appear to counsel rather a lot.
The sport begins by admitting that the mission Alyx is on — a journey to avoid wasting her father Eli Vance from the Mix — is doomed to fail. Eli Vance is useless. We’ve already seen him die. The sport itself reminds us of this truth in its opening moments. The stakes appear low, and it seems like we’re merely going over the identical floor as earlier video games, narratively talking, besides this time we’re in VR.
However Alyx really succeeds in her first purpose lengthy earlier than the sport is over, regardless of every part we’ve been led to consider. Eli is freed, and has information of some type of tremendous weapon that’s being held by the Mix. One thing they don’t need anybody to find out about. One thing they appear to be fearful of. And no matter it’s, the resistance must get its arms on it if there’s to be any hope for Metropolis 17.
Alyx’s mission is now now not a couple of rescue, however about discovering, and maybe utilizing, that weapon. However she finds out that it is probably not a factor in any respect, however may very well be an individual. And that individual is likely to be essentially the most consequential human being within the Half-Life mythos: Gordon Freeman. If Alyx can get to the person who grew to become a legend after the occasions of Black Mesa, solely to have disappeared instantly afterward, they could have an opportunity of successful the planet again from the Mix.
So now we’re again to the sport being a rescue mission, only a rescue mission with a really totally different goal. And the nearer she will get to that concentrate on, the weirder issues turn out to be. As a result of it’s not Gordon Freeman being held captive, it seems.
It’s the G-Man.
And liberating a seemingly almighty energy from jail has its perks, as he provides her a favor in return for being launched. He doesn’t have the facility to take away the Mix from Earth, that may be an excessive amount of meddling for his “employers,” however he can do one thing that is likely to be simply nearly as good, within the long-term. He exhibits Alyx her future, besides Alyx’s future befell in our real-life previous. We see the demise of Eli Vance, and Alyx is given the chance to avoid wasting him, so long as she goes to work for the G-Man.
Keep in mind the ending of Half-Life 2: Episode Two? If not, let’s give it a rewatch. That is what Alyx sees, roughly, and what she’s given the choice to vary.
Altering the previous, or perhaps, extra precisely, altering the circumstances across the sport’s current, allowed the crew to get gamers reinvested within the sport’s story with out merely repeating issues followers already knew.
“The issue was how do you make any ending really feel like this sport mattered?” Valve author Sean Vanaman defined to Polygon. “How can we remedy the prequel drawback to not really feel like this sport is rather like a hermetically sealed short-story on this planet of Half-Life?”
Alyx now really doeshave the flexibility to avoid wasting her father, however doing so will change the course of the sport’s whole story. She accepts the deal, her father is saved, and she or he goes away to … wherever the G-Man retains property in between their missions. The identical place Gordon Freeman disappeared to within the time between Half-Lifeand Half-Life 2, presumably.
Besides, in some way, Eli Vance is aware of that the G-Man has modified issues, and has his daughter. We don’t know precisely how Eli is aware of this, however we do know he needs to do one thing about it, and he is aware of simply the individual to show to with a view to save his daughter, earlier than hopefully additionally saving the world: Gordon Freeman.
The sport’s last moments, after the credit, present the return of Canine because the robotic returns Gordon’s well-known crowbar to his arms. Or relatively, since that is VR, your arms. And that’s the place the entire thing concludes.
This ending, with its twists and turns, solves many issues the narrative crew had been fighting by the sport’s improvement.
“We had the prequel drawback, we had the ‘god in a field’ drawback. These are the 2 massive ones,” Pinkerton stated. “The concept when you free god, god owes you a favor. And that favor must be fairly consequential. What does Alyx need?”
The sport doesn’t give Alyx rather a lot to need exterior of that one purpose. She was all the time attempting to avoid wasting her father from the Mix, so utilizing that want as a throughline meant they didn’t need to create a McGuffin midway by the sport, even when it appeared, for a time, that they might accomplish that. Eli was all the timegoing to die, we all know how that story ends since we’ve performed Episode Two. However having the G-Man deliver him again and recruit Alyx as an asset? All of a sudden the story was versatile once more, and stunning.
“It simply it moved the ball ahead in a approach that everybody within the room simply discovered fascinating,” Pinkerton stated. “You couldn’t cease desirous about it … We couldn’t cease speaking about it.”
It’s a hell of an ending, returning us to the ultimate moments of the earlier launch within the Half-Life collection, whereas altering a lot of what we thought we knew about what would occur subsequent.
I used to be struck by how rapidly Eli Vance was capable of put collectively what had occurred earlier than calling on Gordon Freeman for assist. The crew mentioned leaving some clue behind that may point out that the G-Man had been there, and had pulled some cosmic strings to perhaps change issues that shouldn’t have been modified, however that concept was lower for quite a few causes. So how did Eli know what went on? I requested the three males if an alternate timeline had been created, and if that’s the case, what had occurred to the unique occasions from Episode Two.
“It’s enjoyable to consider, isn’t it?” Vanaman stated, trying away from the digital camera and smiling.
Right here’s the place we begin digging into the storytelling philosophy of Half-Life slightly bit, as a result of discussing these items, and questioning about what’s precisely occurring, is a part of the sport. It’s a component the narrative crew doesn’t essentially need to shut down this early after the discharge of Alyx.
“We now have a timeline, and thought in our heads that we instructed one another as we went, so we’re working by it,” Wolpaw stated. “However we type of don’t need to speak about it simply because it’s enjoyable to observe. It’s enjoyable to invest on. And I really feel like we shut issues down as quickly as we begin saying, right here’s what that’s, you recognize?”
“We now have a solution, we guarantee you,” Pinkerton added. “We now have a solution, however we don’t essentially need to spell it out.”
That pressure, nonetheless, comes with its personal advantages.
“To some extent, what you simply described is what we might hope would occur,” Wolpaw stated. “Individuals considering, ‘Oh, man, I’m on board, I’m excited for what occurs subsequent,’ to type of refresh this present IP and reinvigorate it slightly bit.” Now the final place the story ends isn’t one thing that occurred a long time in the past, it’s one thing that’s recent in everybody’s minds, together with the questions of what all of it means for the remainder of the sport’s lore.
At that heart of that lore, as soon as once more, was the G-Man himself.
Half-Life: Alyxwas capable of do all this heavy narrative lifting with its twisty, stunning ending with out gifting away many particulars about who, precisely, the G-Man is or what he needs. It’s one thing the franchise has usually teased at, however by no means defined. There’s an inner logic to what he can and might’t do on this world, however what that logic is likely to be is saved from the gamers on goal.
“It’s extra vital for us to have the ability to construct the construct the kind of guidelines round him for ourselves, so we are able to prescribe to them,” Pinkerton defined. “That’s one thing that I feel is tremendous vital. And we’re all the time actually delicate to robbing folks of the delight of the unknown. However there’s a positive line between being disciplined round that after which coming throughout as kind of aloof and never having completed the work.”
So there’s nonetheless a stage of frustration right here, as a result of we’ve waited so damned lengthy. What the hell occurs subsequent?
Wolpaw identified that shining some mild on the G-Man and dealing on these mysteries is actually a spot the collection doubtless must go, however this wasn’t the sport to try this. However to maintain Half-Life going, they’re going to want to broaden focus a bit, for the reason that Mix at the moment are a contained risk. Which means the G-Man and his mysterious bosses could have a extra vital position to play within the story sooner relatively than later.
“In case you keep in mind Episode Two, they’d closed these portals,” Wolpaw stated. “So actually what’s left on Earth of the Mix are all there’s left of the Mix.”
With no extra portals, the Mix are caught right here with us as a lot as we’re caught right here with them. They will’t escape, however no reinforcements are coming. In order that story has the potential of coming to an finish before perhaps followers had assumed.
“It’s essential to begin desirous about shifting a few of the focus to one thing else,” Wolpaw defined.
Who the G-Man is, and whom he works for, might make for a really totally different focus for upcoming Half-Life video games. The query I had was whether or not, internally a minimum of, they knew who the G-Man was, and what he’s working towards.
“I really feel like I don’t need to reply this one. Only a laborious go. Let’s simply sit and ponder the silence and alter the topic after,” Pinkerton stated.
“There are a number of competing theories,” Wolpaw added.
They don’t need to write a locked down story bible, as a result of a lot of Alyxgot here from an evolving thought of what they wished the story to be and the place they wished to finish issues. In the event that they resolve one thing now, does that restrict their capacity to vary it to one thing cooler later if they’ve a greater thought?
In addition to, the defining function of the G-Man as a personality is that he can’t be understood, that he’s one thing else. And even the writing crew needs to maintain it that approach for a minimum of a short while longer.
Like Batman, who he’s could not matter, since his influence on the story is all the time felt by what he does. The thriller is a part of the expertise, and explaining an excessive amount of could take away a few of his appeal.
“That’s extra so than so many different characters, simply how unknowable he’s, and simply what his motivations are, every part has been mysterious,” Pinkerton stated. “Every little thing about him is alien and different and yeah, I feel for me, personally, I’m not speaking as the corporate as a result of as an individual, I simply assume it will simply rob that character of a lot if I all of a sudden had his bio, and I knew the place he lived, or what he wore when he bought his mail. It simply doesn’t curiosity me.”
The Half-Life story has to maneuver previous the cliffhanger that was launched in Episode Twoafter which shifted dramatically by the occasions in Half-Life: Alyx.
Valve has already gone again and re-introduced gamers to the world by a prequel, and altered the stakes of the unique ending, however doing one thing related once more would possibly really feel like a cheat, a approach of standing nonetheless whereas showing to shake issues up. No matter comes subsequent within the sport’s story feels prefer it has to maneuver previous that second in time, or the crew dangers irritating gamers who’re nonetheless ready for some type of decision.
“I feel we’d be annoyed too,” Wolpaw stated, candidly. “We did it this as soon as. It was fascinating. It completely It feels prefer it labored. I’m tremendous relieved that we pulled it off, apparently. And, yeah, the subsequent factor I’d identical to to maintain going ahead. I imply, once more, that is me speaking personally, not establishments. However, you recognize.”
Half-Life: Alyxtells a narrative that ends with one character placed on figurative ice, one other again from the useless and re-invested within the struggle after the “loss” of his daughter, and the legendary Gordon Freeman getting his crowbar again, in VR no much less. It feels just like the baton of being the hero is being positioned again into the arms of each Freeman and the participant. There are lots of locations the subsequent sport might go from right here, however not figuring out precisely which path the crew will choose is a part of the journey, even for these engaged on the sport.
“It seems like we’re in a pleasant center floor between not being painted right into a nook, however not having a large clean web page drawback, both,” Pinkerton stated. The one query now could also be a very powerful one: When are we going to have the ability to play the subsequent chapter?