Tuesday, 29 Sep 2020

19 Half-Life: Alyx Easter Eggs And Secrets You Might Have Missed

Half-Life: Alyx is set between the first Half-Life and Half-Life 2. In the grand scheme of the Half-Life universe, spanning two major games, two episodes, and the Portal series, a lot has happened before Half-Life: Alyx’s adventure takes place and a lot happens after. You’d expect the latest installation of a game that hasn’t seen a new entry in 12 years to have a lot of fanservice, but in keeping with typical Valve fashion, the writing is tight, original, and faithful to what came before.

That means there aren’t exactly a ton of “Easter eggs” in Half-Life: Alyx the way you typically see the phrase used nowadays–most of the little “references” are just… things you’d expect to see in a Half-Life game. So much of Half-Life’s story is told in the background, delivered via little bits of information and details picked up here and there, and Half-Life: Alyx is no exception. But depending on how much Half-Life you’ve drilled into your head over the past two decades, some details may be easier to spot than others.

Here’s our list of Easter eggs, references, and other neat details you may have missed in Half-Life: Alyx.

Note: We’ll try to keep this spoiler-free, but if you want to go into the game completely blind, maybe save this one for later! Guide mostly includes details from the opening hours. The ending is not discussed, but the events of Half-Life 1 and Half-Life 2 are.

Dr. Kleiner’s book

Dr. Isaac Kleiner is a former Black Mesa researcher and one of the figures at the heart of the Resistance in Half-Life 2. You can find a copy of his book From Here To There In Under A Second on the balcony in the opening of the game, and later on in Russell’s lab. This same book makes an appearance in Eli Vance’s lab at Black Mesa East in Half-Life 2.

Dog concept sketch and photo

Dog is Alyx Vance’s beloved robot companion, a gift from her father Eli to protect her as a child. Dog is huge when you meet him in Half-Life 2, but he didn’t start out that way. Dog was modified and upgraded as Alyx grew up, and in her base of operations in the beginning of Half-Life: Alyx, you can find a clipboard with sketches of possible new Dog prototypes.

There’s even a photo of one of his adorable early forms up on a shelf.

Snark in a jar

Snarks are the little explosive, grub-like beetle creatures from Xen, which feature primarily in the first Half-Life. Alyx has one in a jar in her base, which you can feed from a can labeled “NOT COFFEE.”

Citadel layout

The Citadel, the Combine’s massive headquarters, is not fully constructed in Half-Life: Alyx. In Alyx’s base, you can find a whiteboard with sketches of the Citadel’s evolution over time along with notes speculating about its purpose, presumably from Alyx–these include questions about the material it’s made of, how deep its base goes, how high it is, why there’s a perpetual storm at its peak, its unusual scaffolding, and its questionable power source.

Pylon 7B heist

At the beginning of the game, Alyx’s father Eli Vance is out with other Resistance members, seemingly stealing supplies from a Combine shipping yard called Pylon 7B. You can find references to their plan all around Alyx’s base, including a whiteboard timetable of the guards’ patrol schedules.

Half-Life 2’s setting and the fate of North America

If you check out the globe on Alyx’s base, you’ll notice a circle with arrows pointing to it, somewhere around Russia. We already knew City 17 was located somewhere in Eastern Europe, but if you rotate the globe, it’ll give you some idea about what happened with the rest of the world.

Yeah, it doesn’t look good. Black Mesa was destroyed by a thermonuclear explosion the day of the Black Mesa Incident, but this makes it clear that the rest of North America didn’t meet an ideal fate either–most likely a result of the subsequent Combine invasion. If you rotate the globe more, the arrows pointing from North America to Eastern Europe indicate the relocation that must have taken place after the Seven Hour War–the conflict between the Combine and Earth’s nations that eventually resulted in humanity’s surrender.

The Cat Lady

In the laundromat where Alyx has a brief conversation with a fellow Resistance member, there’s a bulletin board with a missing cat poster. The cat’s name is Beatrice and the owner’s name is Sarah. You can remove the photo of Beatrice for a closer look.

Shortly after finding this, Alyx will encounter a grumpy City 17 resident slipping into her apartment. Before slamming the door, you’ll notice her house is full of cats.

Newspaper about Dr. Breen and portal storms

On a bench in City 17, you can find a newspaper with an article about Dr. Wallace Breen, the Black Mesa administrator who sold out humanity to the Combine during the Seven Hour War. Other articles on the front page trace the breakdown of global infrastructure and markets amid the invasion and the ongoing portal storms that have caused cataclysmic damage to Earth’s cities.

Combine Dropship

The early game is set in the more populated parts of City 17, where you can catch plenty of glimpses of Combine technology and Synths–like this Combine Dropship flying overhead while Alyx traverses the rooftops.

Playground

While headed to Russell’s lab, you’ll stumble across this playground. There’s nothing particularly special about it–it’s just a playground. Half-Life 2 has a similar playground in the early minutes of the game, which makes sense given they’re set in the same city. Listen, gamers want references, so I am trying to give them references.

Russell’s work on the gravity gloves

Once you reach Russell’s lab, there’s a lot to see. If you flip on the big CRT monitor to your right just upon entering, you can see how hard at work he’s been on the gravity gloves. Over a dozen C++ scripts litter his desktop, each one insisting it’s the final version–we’ve all been there. His recycling bin is also called “incinerator”–a Portal joke? Wow.

The Mind Of Breen magazine cover

In Russell’s lab, you’ll find yet another publication, this time a magazine called Tech Impact, with a story on Dr. Breen. You can’t read it, but he has a full cover dedicated to himself. The feature is titled The Mind Of Breen. Beneath that, it says, “How the right man in the right place could save us all.” This is obviously evocative of G-Man’s opening monologue in Half-Life 2, where he implies Gordon Freeman is “the right man in the wrong place.”

Tech Impact could also be a reference to the Tech Impact Awards, which celebrate innovative companies in Washington state, where Valve is based.

Black Mesa screensaver

One of the CRT monitors in Russell’s lab has an orange Black Mesa logo as its screensaver.

Gnome Chompski

The Garden Gnome (later dubbed Gnome Chompski in Left 4 Dead) first made its appearance in Half-Life 2: Episode Two as a prop you could carry through to the end of the game for a special achievement. It makes an appearance in Russell’s lab as a little magnetic bottle opener on his fridge.

One observant player discovered the real, full-size Gnome Chompski behind a white couch in Russell’s gravity gloves testing arena. Check it out in their YouTube video. You may even be able to get a Steam achievement by carrying it to the end of the game, though we haven’t tested it out ourselves yet.

Scout figurine

There’s a little figurine resembling the Scout from Team Fortress 2 in Russell’s lab. If you use it as a marker when Russell is devising his rescue plan, you’ll get an achievement.

pw:lazl0 sticky note

It’s very hard to see, but when you’re in Russell’s lab about to equip the gravity gloves, look into the room on the right. There’s a sticky note right by the mannequin’s head that reads pw:lazl0. In Half-Life 2, Laszlo is the name of a Resistance member who meets an untimely demise after disturbing a nest of Antlions. When he dies, his comrade famously declares, “Dear God! Poor Laszlo! The finest mind of his generation, come to such an end.” It makes sense to see Laszlo playing enough of a role in the Resistance’s early days that Russell would use his name as his password. RIP Laszlo.

Vortigaunt mural

This one is slight spoiler territory so we won’t show a picture, but there’s quite a lot to see in that Vortigaunt mural at the start of Alyx’s journey. (Don’t worry, you won’t miss it.) The mural seemingly depicts the entire story of the Vortigaunts’ enslavement by the Nihilanth, and at its center–well, again, we’ll leave it for you to see.

Baby tentacles

There’s a bathtub on one of the upper levels of the hotel that seems to be sprouting little baby tentacles, the stalky beaked Xen creatures that you fight in the Blast Pit chapter of the first Half-Life.

As you’ll see, there’s a ton of Xen floral and fauna to see throughout the game, as much of it takes place in restricted quarantine zones infested with dangerous Xen overgrowth, like Xen fungus and light stalks.

Death Stranding cargo

Another observant player (Reddit user KnightzIX) spotted a piece of cargo from Death Stranding in a storage room in Chapter 8. Death Stranding is getting some kind of Half-Life crossover content when it hits PC this June, so the tribute makes sense.

…and more

We’ve kept this Easter eggs guide spoiler-free, but there are a few other things you might notice in the last half of the game–including the last shot–that have strong implications about the future of the Half-Life series. We’ll save discussion of that for another time!

Half-Life: Alyx Review And Guides

  • Half-Life: Alyx Review – Full-Life Consequences
  • Half-Life: Alyx – 10 Essential Tips Before Playing
  • How Long Is Half-Life: Alyx?
  • How To Play Half-Life: Alyx Seated
  • Best VR Headsets For 2020: Half-Life: Alyx Compatibility And More

If we missed anything, let us know in the comments! For more Half-Life, check out our full review and some of our guides to get you started, including our beginner’s guide, weapons guide, puzzle guide, and a breakdown of its accessibility options.

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