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Half-Life: Alyx now has the best-looking booze in video games

Update to Valve’s VR shooter takes bottles of hooch to new levels

A screenshot of Half-Life Alyx showing off bottle liquid shaders Image: Valve via Jaycie Erysdren
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Valve rolled out an update for its virtual reality shooter, Half-Life: Alyx, on Wednesday, which added subtitles in eight new languages, various UI improvements, and yadda yadda yadda. Look, the most important thing here is this line:

Bottles now appear to have liquid inside them that sloshes around as you shake them.

That bullet point doesn’t do a great job of selling the sloshing mechanics now present in Half-Life: Alyx. Valve has taken bottles filled with booze to a new level of realism, as displayed in the following GIF that the company released with Wednesday’s patch notes:

a GIF of the player tilting a bottle of alcohol in Half-Life: Alyx, showing the liquid inside it moving around
I can almost taste it ...
Image: Valve

That very convincing liquid is the work of Valve visual effects developer Matthew Wilde, who notes on Twitter that he “spent a good chunk of lock-down doing this important work” on what he calls the “boozy liquid shader.”

Here’s Wilde showing off the shader in various bottles (with a bonus anecdote about a gravitational gotcha that popped up during development):

Players have noticed that the shader — which is also used in non-booze liquid containers, like water cooler tanks — even appears to create foam in liquids if the bottle is shaken hard enough.

You can read the rest of Wednesday’s update to Half-Life: Alyx on Steam for more, and check out Polygon’s review of the Half-Life spinoff, which called Valve’s flagship virtual reality title “likely the best VR game released to date” — and that was before this new booze innovation.

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