Crowbar? No tar.
Half-Life: Alyx might not feature melee combat, but as revealed by VG247, there were plans for not only melee combat, but also the introduction of the crowbar for the player to wield.
Throughout the Half-Life series, the crowbar is probably one of the most iconic melee weapons around. Players controlled Gordon Freeman as he haphazardly wrecked wooden crates and smashed Combine’s in the face while trying to do a gun-free run. In Half-Life: Alyx, the crowbar was supposed to be present, but there were a lot of issues.
“We spent a bunch of time experimenting with a usable crowbar in the game, and never got it to the point we were very happy with it.” Robin Walker, designer and programmer tells VG247.
“We built a map full of little puzzles that you could do just using the crowbar, and that felt really cool,” Walker reveals. “The hook itself was really problematic. Without any real feedback, it was very easy to have it off-screen and hook it on something and not know, so players would end up hooking it on a door frame as they went through the door, and then start walking away, and we’re like, ‘Now, what do we do? What’s the point?’.”
Apparently, Valve experimented with making it so that it didn’t have physics when off-screen, but Walker explains “there were a whole bunch of things we didn’t like around that,”. Valve apparently tried finding a way to include melee combat, but the developers “just never found something we liked.”
However, despite the desire to have the iconic crowbar, Valve listened to playtesters who felt that the weapon is strongly associated with Gordon Freeman, and doesn’t belong to Alyx Vance, the protagonist in Half Life: Alyx. “playtesters were telling us, ‘The crowbar is Gordon’s.’ It’s not Alyx’s, and we should stop trying to fight that. So, in the end, we just jettisoned it.”
I do think it’s a shame the melee combat isn’t present in the game to a great extent, but I’m also glad that the crowbar wasn’t included as my thoughts are the same as the playtesters, it’s a weapon that belongs to Gordon Freeman.
Half-Life: Alyx is available on PC as a VR-exclusive.