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Half-Life: Alyx - Beating the Enemies

Find out more on how to beat the enemy with our handy tips

Posted by Pedro
Posted by: Pedro
Posted: Feb 19, 2021
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Half-Life: Alyx Review | Half Life Games | Weapon Upgrades and Tips | Beating Jeff |

Beating the Enemy

As in the original Half-life, Xen aliens are no longer killed with a simple clout using a crowbar, but fight tooth and nail with proper weapons in a battle of proximity accompanied by fumbled and rushed reloads. In this article we explore the various types of enemies you're likely to encounter - what they are, their weaknesses, how to avoid them and the best way to kill them. For more help visit our dedicated tips page: Half-Life: Alyx tips.


In Half-Life: Alyx - Barnacles are best described as giant, upside-down sea urchins, with a 20 foot protruding tongue (tendril). Barnacles hang from ceilings, dangling their long tendrils and awaiting naive passers-by who get a little too close, in order to drag them into their octopus-like mouth and tear their face off, errr! And rob their victim of any items they happen to be carrying, such as grenades and pistol clips.

Most Barnacles are easy to avoid, whistling as you casually walk by (cautiously avoiding the tentacles), but wait! Leave no stone unturned; sometimes it’s beneficial to kill Barnacles, as they often drop goodies from the last victim they sucked up, so killing one may reward you with much needed ammo or better still, resin! Having said that, you don't want to waste ammo if you're not going to be rewarded with anything. Remember, it will take 3 clean shots from your pistol to kill one, however there are other ways to kill Barnacles. See the tips below...

Half Life Barnacle

Barnacle Tips:
  • Rule No: 1 Steer clear of their tentacles
  • Try to find a yellow hard hat and place it on your head. If you happen to get too close to a dangling tentacle, you'll loose your hat and not your head.
  • If you intend on shooting one, aim directly at its open mouth. 3 clean shots should be enough.
  • You can kill a cluster of Barnacles by throwing any sort of explosive towards their tentacle, like an orange gas cylinder, and shooting it just before it enters its mouth.
  • Tentacles getting in your way, but you're low on ammo? Use your gravity gloves to pick-up an object such as a cardboard box and flick it into the path of its tentacle. It will pull it up, giving you time to pass-by unharmed.


Half-Life: Alyx would not be a Half-life without the Headcrabs. These crawly, giant alien-like spider crabs are quite common enemies throughout the game. The Headcrab isn’t much of a challenge, generally three to four pistol shots does the trick. A word of caution, however - take too long fannying about and they'll lunge towards you dishing out a fair bit of damage. “But it’s a crab for Christ’s sake!” Yes, a three foot one! If you're out of ammo you can protect yourself by swatting them with an object, such as a bucket, to lessen the damage while you peck them off.


Headcrab Tips:
  • Save ammo. Wait for the Headcrab to rise back on its hind legs, exposing its tender underside, namely its mouth. Then aim and shoot there for a quick kill.
  • Out of ammo? Swat them out of your way using a a box, or bucket. By doing so, you're also rewarded for in-game achievements. There' are a total of 41 achievements in Half-Life Alyx.

Headcrab Zombie

So, what is a Headcrab Zombie? Essentially it's a corpse that has been taken over by a Headcrab. The Headcrab Zombie is particularly challenging when in a group. They are fairly easy to kill with your pistol by shooting the green pustules on its body. You'll often kill the Zombie, detaching the Headcrab. It's then just a case of killing the headcrab.

Tips on Killing the Headcrab Zombie:
The quickest way to kill the Headcrab Zombie is to aim for the head, basically shooting at the Headcrab. Three headshots using the pistol, or a single blast from the shotgun.

Armored Headcrab

These are really nasty pieces of work...Nasty! Somewhat similar in size to the Headcrab, but covered in a hard, nubbled, bubble-like armoured shell, so much more difficult to kill. Just like the Headcrab they lunge towards you, so keep sharp. As with the Headcrab their vulnerable part is their underside, so if you have the opportunity (patience is key here), wait for them to rear back on their hind legs and shoot them in the mouth. In fact, that's the recommended way to kill them, You'll waste so much ammo shooting at its shell... go for the throat!

Armored Headcrab

Armored Headcrab Zombie

Armored Headcrab Zombie, again, similar to the Headcrab Zombie, in that a corpse has been taken over, but this time an armoured Headcrab is at the helm. It’s far more difficult to kill - headshots are useless because of the armour, so bullets will simply ricochet off. The best way to kill the Armored Headcrab Zombie is with the shotgun or explosives.

Toxic Headcrab

The Toxic Headcrab is equally as dangerous as the Armored Headcrab. These don’t have armor but are distinguishable by their spiny hairy legs. They generally appear in dark places so make sure you have the flashlight in order to spot them lurking in shadows. Their kill method is to spray neurotoxic liquid over you. Not only rapidly sapping the health from you, but also temporarily blinding you, making it more difficult to locate them. To make things worse they usually attack in numbers, making them even more dangerous and harder to kill. Like its foes, the same rule applies - Hind legs - underbelly shot - dead!

The Toxic Headcrab makes its first appearance in the Chapter ‘Is Or Will Be’. The Toxic Headcrab is fairly slow and easy to deal with, providing you’re at a safe distance. It takes about 5 or 6 shots to kill one.

Toxic Headcrab

Toxic Headcrab Tip:
  • The shotgun is an excellent weapon for killing the Toxic Headcrab, in fact any Headcrab. The shotgun is powerful and has a wide shot spread, handy for when you’re shooting blindly in the dark.
  • Carefully open doors and peer in. If there happens to be a bunch of Headcrabs behind a door, lob a grenade in there to clear the path.

Lightning Dog

Not resembling a dog in any way apart from it being on all fours. This vicious alien is probably one of the cleverest and fastest movers of the Headcrab species. They scurry around emitting jolts of lightning from their body in almost every direction. Just make sure you steer clear of those energy bolts. If you are hit by its energy bolt, you'll be temporally paralyzed for 4 or 5 seconds while it continues to zip around, mucking you.

What really makes the Lightning Dog stand-out from its foes is that it has a unique defense system and when threatened, which doesn't take much, it will cloak, surrounding itself within a haze of electrical fog. So invisible right? Not quite… they can still be spotted. As it passes nearby objects it creates a loud and bright electrical discharge, giving away it’s location.

Lightning Dog

Lightning Dogs are very tough and take a lot to kill. They can cause a lot of damage with electrical attacks, so be prepared! Just make sure your guns are fully loaded, the shotgun works well and does a fair chunk of damage if you happen to get close enough. Grenades, although powerful, prove fruitless - in that the critter moves too quickly and you usually end up wasting one. It will take five shots from the shotgun to kill a Lightning Dog. Once killed and as a reward, the lightning dog will drop a ‘Reviver’, an organic battery cell which operates the same way as a regular Combine battery and even fits into the same battery slots.

Lightning Dog Zombie

Technically a Lightning Dog Zombie is a Lightning Dog that has occupied a corpse. It’s a fairly challenging enemy, in that you need to kill both the Zombie and the Lightning Dog whilst avoiding the deadly electrical attacks.

Lightning Dog Zombie

Tip on killing the Lightning Dog Zombie:
  • The best way to kill the Lightning Dog Zombie is by shooting the blue glowing areas within its body, which will eventually explode, forcing the Lightning Dog off its host. Then it’s just a case of popping it off with the shotgun... easier said then done mind you!

Blob / Bloater

Bloater, what the hell is a Bloater? Well, let me explain. A Bloater doesn’t have legs, so won’t be running or jumping at you. They are green pustule-like creatures, growing anywhere from about one to four feet in diameter, and remain completely static - nice to know. They live in dark humid areas, such as the underground. As innocent as they appear they will explode if you stand next to them for too long. They can absorb bullets and regenerate quickly, so if you’re going to shoot them make sure you do it from a good distance and shoot them constantly until they explode.

Bloater Tip: The best way to kill Bloaters is from a distance. Any weapon will kill one. For a quick kill, toss in a grenade, use a single shot from your shotgun or shoot at it several times with the pistol.

Manhack (spinners)

Manhacks are flying drones that utilise a spinning laser blade, much like a chainsaw. They're one of the combine's prized bots when it comes down to hunting down the enemy, its sole purpose - to seek and destroy. Manhacks have gyroscopic sensors to steady themselves during flight, detecting sound and movement, including specialised sensors to enable it to detect an enemies body-heat signature.

Manhacks rarely travel alone, so if you see one, keep an eye out for the rest of the clan. These will fly towards you with great speed and force. Even a single Manhack can rip a fair chunk of health from you, especially if you’re not paying attention to your surroundings and one happens to zip-up behind you. However, they do emit a whirring noise, making you aware of their presence. You can take them down with your pistol, though it can be a bit of a challenge, after all, you are shooting a moving target, not only that, they zig-zag a lot more when attacking, making them even harder to hit, so use caution. Two to three shots from the pistol are enough to take one out or, if you prefer, try the shotgun for a single shot take down. You can also take one out by whacking it with an object, forcing it into a wall. You can even use your gravity gloves or hit it with your shotgun to temporarily disable it, or disorientate it, well, until it re-stabilises its gyroscopes.


Manhack Tip: Later on in Half-Life Alyx, you may encounter what seems to be an endless barrage of attacks from Manhacks. This is because many of the Combine Ordinal Soldiers carry Manhacks with them and deploy them at will, so take down the Combine Ordinal soldiers as quick as you can, it will make your life a whole lot easier.

Combine Soldier

The standard Combine Soldier are pretty agile adversaries, with the weapon of choice being that of automatic weapons, the SMG mainly. These weapons are pretty high-tech and are genetically paired to each soldiers unique DNA profile. They often fire at you while taking cover and throwing grenades at you to force you out of cover. The best strategy to kill these is to try and take them down one-by-one. The shotgun is a great weapon at close range and one of my personal favourites, however, the choice of weapon is down to you.

Combine Soldier

Tips for killing Combine Soldiers:
  • The Combine Soldier has backpacks that contain a flammable liquid. Yes, you got it! Shoot the backpack to quickly kill the enemy and others in the vicinity. It’s also a great way to split up soldiers if they are part of a squad
  • Head-shots are also another quick way to kill soldiers
  • If a Grenade is thrown at you, catch it mid-flight and throw it back
  • Throw objects to distract their attention
  • Use objects within you environment for cover, peering around them to peck them off

Combine Heavy

The Combine Heavy is a formidable soldier - pretty scary looking to be honest. They are extremely dangerous, especially at close range and are difficult to kill especially once they’ve deployed their forcefield. You’ll need to utilise your full arsenal of weapons to take out one of these. They can take a lot of abuse and barely flinch, even when struck by multiple grenades, and as far as the pistol goes, you may as well be using a potato gun! The best way to take out the Heavy is with repetitive head-shots or unloading a few magazines using the SMG.

Combine Heavy

A word of advice here: Steer clear of their guns and forcefield. They can deploy a blinding attack at short distance, although just for a few seconds, but highly damaging to your health.

Combine Heavy Tips:
  • Although the Combine Heavy is a formidable enemy, armoured to the hilt and brandishing a force-field, it does have a weakness... it’s slow and not very agile! Take advantage of this flaw and try to flank it. The Combine Heavy turns around very slowly, so as he turns, move quickly to a good position, taking aim and shooting at the exposed areas, especially the head.
  • The Heavy can't maintain its force-field 100% of the time. If you wait a little it will drop its shield, giving you time to fill it with lead or quickly toss in a grenade for maximum damage!

Combine Mini-gunner

The Combine Minigunner is one big soldier! It's very similar to the Combine Heavy in that its body armour is basically the same and also takes a lot of shots to kill, however, it doesn’t wield a shield and instead of the standard issue automatic weapon, it wields a high-powered mini chaingun. This rapid firing weapon is exceptionally accurate and deadly. It goes with saying, planning and strategy are key here, should you want to take it out quickly.

Combine Mini-gunner Tips:
  • Everyone needs to re-load their guns at some point and the Combine Mini-gunner is no exception. Get noticed, take cover and let the mini-gunner deplete his magazine. As soon as the firing stops, get in there and waste him!
  • Head-shots are best!


Jeff! What kind of a name is that - and who is Jeff? Yes I agree, it’s a strange name for a zombie, however, someone had to name it - Larry the techno geek to be precise, a member of the resistance.

In Half-Life: Alyx you stumble upon Jeff in Chapter 7 ‘Jeff’. He’s a formidable enemy and although completely blind, has super hearing and his sense of smell is pretty good too. You’ll first encounter Jeff when you enter the distillery, where Jeff roams free to cause havoc. You’ll know once you meet him, the first introduction being almost certain death! Let me remind you - Jeff can hear a pin drop, so you need to be super quiet. Not only can he detect you walking, he can even hear you breathe! Hearing aside, Jeff also spurts out Xen spores from four large growths on his back, so make sure you cover your mouth when near him, failing that, find yourself a dust mask.


How do I defeat Jeff?

I’m not going to tell you that now. I don’t want to add spoilers here, however, there is a dedicated page ‘How to beat Jeff’, which provides some great tips and all the necessary steps to avoid detection. Smart planning and quick thinking is key to beating Jeff. You’ll probably die several times before you get past the first part. (2 parts in total).

Tip for beating Jeff: Have a good look around your environment. There are tasks you need to complete. Save your ammo, you can’t kill Jeff with any weapon.

The Antlions / Giant Bugs

The Antlion (scientific name Myrmeleontidae) doesn’t appear until the later levels, chapter 8 to be precise. The Antlion is a bulbous, oversized insect with scary flesh ripping mandibles. It’s not a fast mover, by any means. It only has two front legs to walk with. The Antlion is fairly easy to kill in a one-off battle, but far more challenging when there’s a group of them. Take it out with the weapon of your choice. It takes a minimum of 3 shots to kill one, or a single grenade.


Antlion Tip: The best way to kill the Antlion is to shoot its two front legs, finishing it off with a shot to the abdomen. They can also fly into the air, exploding, so anything nearby will take some collateral damage.

Blue Antlion

The Blue Antlion is as easy to kill as its relative, however, these blue-coloured critters can eject a toxic substance in ranged attacks. Be warned! These attacks are deadly. In fact so deadly that just one attack could strip your health down to next to nothing, even if in a one-on-one battle. The advice is obvious. Be wary of their ranged attacks and block or dodge them whenever you see them advancing. Dodge the toxic spurt and get a grenade in there!

What was your experience playing Half-Life; Alyx?

Do you know of any tips we should know about? Hey! Why not just share your thoughts with me using the comment box below.

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Half-Life: Alyx - Beating the Enemies