The release of Half-Life: Alyx stands to be a landmark event for two reasons. First and most obviously, it’s a new Half-Life game after 13 years of eerie radio silence. Second, it’s a prime example of gaming culture eating its own tail, since now players are breaking games before they’re even out.
Granted, Valve was sort of asking for this. As part of the lead up to Half-Life: Alyx’s March 23 release, Valve has released a handful of environments from the game as Steam VR “home” spaces. These are virtual areas that users can hang out in between firing up fully-fledged VR games. They’re meant to evoke atmosphere and make the transition between games more natural than a sterile series of menus. CSGO YouTuber 3kliksphilip decided to push the new City 17 home space to its limits, breaking out of the intended play space entirely.
He used a program called Open VR, which let him break free of the boundaries Valve had put in place by slowly, painstakingly pulling himself through the air with his own arms. His goal? Reaching the Citadel, the towering center of City 17 from which the totalitarian Combine govern earth.
As 3kliksphilip got further and further from the designated City 17 chill zone, the environment grew markedly less detailed, which is to be expected in a relatively linear game full of areas that nobody’s ever supposed to actually see. Then he reached the Citadel, and he began to climb. And climb and climb and climb. This produced some odd side effects, like turning everything—3kliksphilip’s in-game hands included—transparent.
Ultimately, he climbed so high that City 17 was barely visible below him, and the Citadel transformed into a hazy line among the clouds. When 3kliksphilip decided he’d had enough, he tried to teleport back down to the ground, only for the severely confused game to refuse his request. He was gripped by a cold fear.
“To my horror, I couldn’t teleport back down again,” he said in his video. “I had gone too far. I went for the menu, but couldn’t see anything. I was trapped.”
Fortunately for 3kliksphilip, video games are not real.
“Then I remembered I was in VR and took the headset off,” he said.