A virtual reality Half-Life spin-off, possibly titled Half-Life VR, is in the works according to leaked code found in updates for Destinations and DOTA 2.
Steam's parent company Valve has long been a huge supporter of virtual reality gaming. In addition to offering hundreds of VR games on the Steam store, Valve also released its very own VR headset, the HTC Vive, earlier this year. The company may be set to go one step further, though, as Valve is reportedly set to release a VR entry in one of its biggest game franchises.
This information comes from Valve News Network (VNN) which reports that Half-Life VR is in development. Valve's virtual reality app, Destinations, allows people to explore real and virtual places with their friends, and it is regularly updated. The most recent Destinations update was released to players on September 26 and according to VNN's investigation of the update files, code referring to something called HL:VR was discovered, with strings relating to weapons, VR controller movement and other features being present.
While some have suggested that the code was just leftover from Valve's previous VR experiments with Half-Life, there is other evidence that suggests that this was no mistake and that Half-Life VR is currently in the development rather than a dormant relic. Namely, the leaked code actually replaced the original strings of code that were found in Destinations, which seems to suggest that development on Half-Life VR had progressed somewhat.
Also supporting the idea of Half-Life VR is a DOTA 2 update from just a few days ago that seemed to be related to HL:VR communication. One piece of code is "used to force the HL:VR to speak" and as Half-Life protagonist Gordon Freeman doesn't speak, it's believed that this VR title will be a spin-off that doesn't involve him.
Half-Life fans will also remember that two years ago, Valve programmer Jeep Barnett revealed that the company wouldn't say no to Half-Life VR and that the team would love to bring all of Valve's franchises to VR. And, while Valve writer Chet Faliszek says that Half-Life 3 won't support VR, that doesn't mean that a separate virtual reality project couldn't riff off of the franchise.
Assuming that the project really is in the works - and that Valve hasn't planted the code as the cruelest of teases - then it could be huge for virtual reality. Valve's support of VR has already been so important to the industry's success and its own Vive headset sold 15,000 units in just 10 minutes, so it's not hard to imagine that Half-Life VR could result in a huge boost in virtual reality gaming's popularity and be a major factor in the industry's long-lasting success.