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Half-Life: Alyx -- a Half-Life 2 prequel in VR -- launches in March

It's been 12 years since Half-Life 2: Episode 2. What's another four months?

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Half-Life: Alyx is a proper Half-Life game, but it's not Half-Life 3. 

Valve

First, the bad news. Half-Life: Alyx isn't Half-Life 3, or Half-Life 2: Episode 3. The recently announced VR title is set between Half-Life and Half-Life 2, Valve revealed Thursday. The good news? It's a complete, full-length Half-Life game, and eager fans won't have to wait much longer to play it. The game will launch in March.

If you own Valve's Index VR headset, you'll get Half-Life: Alyx for free. Everyone else will have to pay $59 on Steam. Alyx was designed from the ground up for VR and will work on all PC-based VR headsets, Valve said. That's a relief for those who worried that the game would be Index-exclusive. 

As fans guessed from the name, Half-Life: Alyx will follow Alyx Vance, a character introduced in 2004's Half-Life 2. In the original Half-Life, you play as Gordon Freeman, a survivor of an experiment gone wrong that accidentally opens an inter-dimensional portal. By the time Half-Life 2 starts, Earth has already been conquered by an alien race called The Combine. In Half-Life: Alyx, you mount a resistance movement against the inter-dimensional threat. 

Half-Life: Alyx has created huge buzz for two reasons. 

First, It's the first Half-Life game since Half-Life 2: Episode 2 launched 12 years ago. Fans have been waiting for literally over a decade for news on Episode 3, but nada. Regardless, Alyx is an official Half-Life game that's easy to get excited about.

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The box art for Half-Life: Alyx.

Valve

Second, as a full-length game and not an expanded tech demo, it's by far the highest profile title to be released in VR. Half-Life 2 sold more than 12 million copies and is as highly revered as games get. Valve, Sony, HTC and Facebook-owned Oculus have all invested big in virtual reality, but the platform has yet to spawn a Super Mario 64-esque killer app that gamers need to experience. Half-Life: Alyx gives millions of gamers a reason to jump into a new reality. 

"VR has energized us," Valve founder Gabe Newell said in a statement. "For that to come in the form of Half-Life feels like the culmination of a lot things we care a lot about: truly great games, cutting edge technology, and open platforms. We can't wait for people to experience this."

A Half-Life VR game has been rumored about and hoped for since Valve demoed its VR technology, which would later become the HTC Vive and Valve Index headsets. When asked about a potential Half-Life VR game in 2015, Valve programmer Jeep Barnett told Kotaku: "We're not saying no." 

That was enough to arouse anticipation at a new Half-Life game, which shows just how ready fans are for March.