Valve is currently doing a Half-Life Alyx Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on Reddit, providing lots of fresh and juicy details on the highly anticipated VR-only game due for release in March.
Yes, that's right: one of the very first answers confirms the game is on track to make its intended release, so you don't have to worry too much about Half-Life Alyx to follow suit after all the recent triple-A delays.
With the exception of some tweaks to the absolute final scene, the game is done. Lots of us at Valve, as well as playtesters, have played through the entire game multiple times.
Right now we're primarily polishing and fixing bugs, which is where we'd hope to be at this point in the development cycle. We're confident we'll hit our intended release. (We let the Valve Time happen before we announced Half-Life Alyx)
Modders might be a bit saddened to hear there are no current plans to ship the full Source 2 SDK, though.
We're not currently planning on shipping a full SDK. We'd really like to release one at some point, but it's a ton of work because Source 2 is a new toolset, much of which hasn't been previously released. Any time we spend on it now is also time we could be spending on polishing the game itself, which we think is more important. As a result, we thought it wasn't appropriate to promise anything before release.
Generally, this is how we've done SDKs in our previous Source 1 titles as well - making the game takes precedence, and after that's done, we start looking at what's next.
With regards to the tone of the story in Half-Life Alyx, Co-Writer Erik Wolpaw said it won't change much from previous Half-Life games, even though Alyx Vance will actually speak this time around.
I don't think it's changed dramatically. Honestly, though, I think the Half-Life games are closer in tone to the portal games than they are to, say, The Last of Us. I spent a part of every day for 13 years talking to Laidlaw about writing. And the authors that inspired him like Frederic Brown and Robert Sheckley and crime writer Charles Willeford are all known for darkly comedic takes on genre fiction. Hell, he even named a character in ep2 after Sheckley.
Having the viewpoint character speak in Half-Life Alyx is mostly liberating. It certainly makes writing scenes easier when you don't have to write around the fact that the main character is mute. It's also easier to have the player feel they're actually an active participant in the scene. In portal we got around it a little by actually acknowledging the main character is mute. I think it's a lot more tricky when you have to maintain a fragile fiction that the player character can talk but simply isn't for some reason. Anyway, I was and still am happy that the main character speaks.
There are plenty of other interesting details shared throughout the entire AMA session, such as the size of the development team working on Half-Life Alyx (80, more than any other single team ever at Valve), the denial of any falling out with former Valve writer Marc Laidlaw (in fact, the writers working on Half-Life Alyx contacted him via email numerous times to get his perspective on certain plot points), and the confirmation of several accessibility options available in the game, including Valve's intention to add one for one-armed play.
Lastly, Valve promised to release several Half-Life Alyx gameplay videos ahead of the title's launch in order to showcase both gameplay elements and VR-specific movement options. Therefore, stay tuned for more on the next big entry in the Half-Life series (which is now free-to-play on Steam in the lead up to Half-Life Alyx).