Half-Life: Alyx’s First Update Improves Movement, Making It Much Easier To Turn

It’s only been a few days, but Half-Life: Alyx has already been given an update that makes turning a whole lot easier.

There’s a sort of general problem with immersive VR games in that it can be extremely difficult for the player to walk around in a virtual world. The problem is that the player wants to walk for miles in a post-apocalyptic city–much like in Half-Life: Alyx–but said player really only has a space as large as their living room to move inside.

Half-Life: Alyx has two solutions to this problem. One of those solutions is to move the player via a sort of teleportation command: the player aims where they want to be and then they suddenly reappear there. This can be a little disorienting, but it means that the player never really needs to move except to turn around. It also prevents motion sickness, which is a problem in the second solution.

That second solution is what Valve calls “smooth locomotion,” which is really just moving via thumbstick just like you would in most console-based first-person games. While aiming and sight is controlled by the player’s head and arms, the player’s legs are controlled by pressing the thumbstick in the direction you want to move. Turning our legs means turning the thumbstick, which means orientation is a combination of body, head, and thumbstick all at once.

It’s tricky to do, and some players found Alyx’s turning speed to be too fast or too slow–both of which can lead to motion sickness. The latest update solves this problem by adding a “Continuous Turn” option that lets the player decide on a comfortable turning speed. Or, you can completely disable controller turning in order to ensure that just your head and body orientation determine where you’re pointing. This is the opposite of “seated” mode which turns off body orientation and relies entirely on thumbsticks for turning.

Valve has also renamed “Quick Turn” to “Snap Turn” in order to better describe the immediate about-face that Alyx can perform when threatened by an enemy at her rear.

Along with the movement improvements, update 1.1 improves automatic hardware detection, impact decal resolution, hand-over-mouth pose usability on Windows Mixed Reality controllers, and squashes several bugs. You can read about it on Steam, although the patch notes are still pretty light.

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