Happy Friday and welcome to this week’s edition of Replay, WIRED’s videogame news roundup. The week’s biggest news is clearly the forthcoming reincarnation of gaming’s biggest, most dead franchise. That’s not all, though. Let’s get to it.
That Half-Life You Like Is Coming Back in Style in Valve’s New VR Exclusive
Remember Half-Life? You probably do; the legendary absence of a Half-Life 3 is as deep in the mythology of gaming as, y’know, Mario. Well, surprise! There’s going to be a new Half-Life game. But it’s not going to be HL3. Instead, it’s going to be a prequel of sorts. And it’s going to be a virtual-reality exclusive.
A full-length VR game, compatible with all VR headsets according to Valve (though they hope you’ll use your Valve Index gear, I’m sure), Half-Life: Alyx will star Alyx Vance, Half-Life 2‘s secondary protagonist, during the time between the first and second games in the series. You’ll play as Alyx, embodied fully in VR, as you sneak into the alien dystopia of City 17 in search of … something important. We’re not sure what. But it’s essential to the human rebellion brewing on the ruined Earth of the Half-Life universe. And while it’s not Half-Life 3, it seems pretty rad. It’ll be out March 2020.
Xbox Has a New Set of Accessibility Guidelines to Share
Last year, Xbox released the Xbox Adaptive Controller, a major move forward in the pursuit of creating accessible gaming inputs adaptable to a wide variety of abilities. Now, Microsoft is publishing a set of accessibility guidelines for games, including information on best practices on things like subtitles, difficulty levels, and a variety of other user interface and gameplay elements.
As reported by Rock Paper Shotgun, these guidelines were drafted, according to Microsoft, alongside experts in the industry and members of the disabled gaming community. This kind of thing is essential: codifying elements of accessible design, and explaining how to implement them, is how gaming ends up as a more inclusive, accessible industry. Other forms of media have generally accepted practices on how to do these things. Gaming needs them, too.
The CEO of Activision Thinks Games Just Shouldn’t Have Political Speech, Which Seems Fine
This is interesting: During a recent appearance on CNBC, Activision Blizzard CEO and multi-millionaire Bobby Kotick said that he doesn’t think games, at least his company’s games, should include any sort of political speech. Here’s what he said:
“My responsibility is to make sure that our communities feel safe, secure, comfortable, and satisfied and entertained. … That doesn’t convey to me the right to have a platform for a lot of political views, I don’t think. I think my responsibility is to satisfy our audiences and our stakeholders, our employees, our shareholders.”