When Valve officially unveiled Half-Life: Alyx late last year, there was perhaps a little skepticism that the game would manage to meet its projected March 2020 release date - perfectly understandable given the preceding twelve year wait between series instalments. However, Valve now says its "confident" that Alyx will launch on time.
That reassuring tidbit of information comes courtesy of a new AMA (short for Ask Me Anything, if you're unfamiliar) on Reddit, in which Valve's Robin Walker, Jamaal Bradley, David Feise, Greg Coomer, Corey Peters, Erik Wolpaw, Tristan Reidford, Chris Remo, Jake Rodkin, and Kaci Aitchison Boyle all answered community questions on the game.
It was not, in truth, the most revelatory of back-and-forths - anything resembling juicy information remained firmly under wraps - but the team was generally willing and able to respond to broader questions surrounding Alyx's development.
In response to a poster's concerns "about Valve Time kicking in", the team offered assurances that Alyx is all but complete. "With the exception of some tweaks to the absolute final scene," Valve explained, "the game is done. Lots of us at Valve, as well as playtesters, have played through the entire game multiple times."
It says remaining work will primarily focus on polishing and fixing bugs, "which is where we'd hope to be at this point in the development cycle". As such, Valve is "confident we'll hit our intended release", joking that it "let the Valve Time happen before we announced the game".
Although the remaining AMA deftly dodged any big reveals, it did cough up a few interesting tidbits. All weapons, for instance, are one-handed (but can be grabbed and steadied with an off-hand) so that the team had the freedom to introduce simultaneous two-handed play elements such as the gravity gloves, flashlight, world interactions, and more.
Elsewhere, Valve explained that while Alyx is obviously heavily influenced by Half-Life 2, the team also went back to the original game. "There are some things we think we did better in HL1 than HL2", it said, highlighting HL1's soldier AI as an inspiration for Alyx's Combine Soldiers.
It also noted, for those wondering, that it'll be possible to pop a bucket over a headcrab and watch it shuffle around, that a developer commentary is planned to arrive post-launch, and that train fans have nothing to fear. "It's actually illegal to ship a Half-Life game if you don't spend at least a little time riding in a train", Valve wrote.
Although today's AMA was perhaps a little light on detail, Valve assured fans that it would be releasing gameplay videos as Alyx's March release draws nearer. These, it explained, will "showcase not just gameplay elements, but also VR-specific elements like different movement options." In the meantime, you could always catch up on previous Half-Life games for free.