There aren't many guns in Half-Life: Alyx, then again, there have never been many guns in any of the Half-Life series.
Half-Life Alyx has five weapons in total; two come in the form of grenades, and the remaining three are firearms - the Pistol, Shotgun and Sub Machine Gun (SMG). All of these can be upgraded at the Combine Fabricator - a high-tech machine that can only be accessed and utilised by solving (hacking) a cryptic holographic puzzle. Once accessed, you simply place the firearm in the conversion cradle and choose the upgrade required; however, there is a major component required in order to produce the extra mass for the mod - ‘Resin’. Not the type of resin you’d imagine oozing from a tree, this resin is a special type of carbon silicon-based resin, specially tailored for upgrading hardware.
Each firearm has its own unique upgrades, all of which offer various benefits, but upgrades come at a cost and require a specific amount of resin before the transaction and production of the mod can be initialised.
The very first weapon you’ll get your hands on is the pistol. It’s given to you by Russell, shortly after you obtain the ‘Russells’ (gravity gloves).
The pistol is the standard weapon in Half-Life: Alyx. It’s a modified M1911, complete with a bullet indicator on the hand-grip and a standardised clip that stores 10 bullets + one in the chamber, so a maximum of 11 bullets. The pistol doesn't look like much, but it certainly packs a punch! The pistol is capable of automatic rapid-fire, ideal for taking out any of your adversaries from almost any distance, in quick succession. Although the pistol is powerful, you need to be accurate in landing your shots - unlike the shotgun, which has a wider kill range with more than twice the power!
Admittedly the pistol isn’t as powerful as the shotgun by any means, but it stores more bullets, is more manageable and is quicker to load.
Ammo wise - there are plenty of ammo clips for the pistol scattered throughout the game, far more than the likes of shotgun cartridges.
Loading the pistol is a snip. Using your non-dominant hand, you simply reach over your shoulder to retrieve a clip and physically slide it into the butt of the gun. To engage the clip ready for firing, you can either pull back the slide on the top of the gun, or you can simply press the ‘B’ button on your controller (top button). This is by far the quickest and easiest way, although it’s not as interactive or immersive. When empty, eject the clip by pressing the ‘A’ button (bottom button) or, alternatively, sliding your thumb over the slide release.
Tip: By leaving at least one round in the chamber, there’s no need to re-engage the clip ready for firing.
As with all the guns in Half-Life Alyx, the pistol can be upgraded providing you have enough resin for the required upgrade. The charts below show the various costs in ‘resin currency’ and what each upgrade provides.
Note: You'll need to locate a Combine Fabricator to upgrade your weapons
A fully upgraded pistol will cost you 95 resins
This mod highlights the enemies weak spots in orange when you look down the scope. This feature is also very useful in the dark or dark areas. The only downside is that orange pointer-dot is a little difficult to see, then again, what do you expect for 10 resin pucks!
Allows you to automatically fire off 3 bullets in quick succession with a single squeeze of the trigger. This is activated by double-tapping the top button (B) (clip release). Burst fire is ideal for killing the tougher enemies, providing you’re on target or you’ll be wasting 3 bullets!
Cons: Clip runs down quickly.
If you’re tired of running out of bullets and don’t want the hassle of having to reload constantly, then the Bullet Reservoir is the mod for you! Personally, it’s one of my favourites. The upgrade allows you to store a second clip of 10 bullets (20 bullets in total) inside your pistol, limiting the amount of reloads. You can simply load two magazines as opposed to one. As part of the upgrade the ammo counter on the grip also changes to reflect the increased bullet count.
The laser sight is probably the best upgrade for the pistol and I highly recommend it. It assists in improving accuracy by shining a red beam of light, negating the need to look down the sights, helping you better track your enemies and ideal when firing from the hip. The Laser Sight is especially useful for taking out confined groups of enemies in quick succession and at long distances.
Pistol Tips: Personally I wouldn't recommend upgrading to the Reflex Sight straight away - yes, I know it’s cheap and affordable, but it doesn't really give you much of an advantage, apart from highlighting the vulnerable areas of enemies. My word of advice is to live with aiming down the sights for the time being and later on, when you have enough resin, buy the Laser Sight mod first, as this should assist in saving ammo, and then the Reflex Sight, followed by the Bullet reservoir. “But what about Burst Fire?”... well, it’s a nice-to-have, but you could just quickly fire off 3 shots yourself. Not only that, you’ll be saving 20 resins, which can go towards upgrading the other weapons.
Resin saved: 20
The shotgun is acquired in Chapter 3 ‘Is Or Will Be’, where you encounter a zombie corpse, who’s strung up from the ceiling, hanging by his leg. The shotgun is firmly placed in his hand, so the only way to get it is by solving a somewhat intricate puzzle, using a bicycle wheel attached to a pulley system, but before you do that, make sure you grab the two boxes of shotgun shells from the pockets of the dangling corpse.
The shotgun is the light-weight, single-handed type (as are all the firearms) and utilises an mini LCD display to show you how many shells you have remaining. The shotgun stores a maximum of 6 cartridges by default, with an extra one in the chamber, making a total of 7. It’s the most powerful hand-weapon in Half-Life: Alyx. It certainly has some fire-power - ideal for close combat situations and taking on the tougher enemies like the Combine Heavy or the Lightning Dog Zombie. When you’ve acquired enough resin, snap on the Laser Sight, Autoloader or the Grenade Launcher!
A fully upgraded shotgun will cost you 105 resins
The shotgun isn’t quite as intuitive to load as the pistol or the SMG for that matter, it’s a little more cumbersome. So, a word of advice, if you’re going to load it, load it somewhere safe. To load - crack the shotgun open by pressing the ‘A’ button. The barrel will drop exposing the cartridge chambers. Reach over your shoulder and grab the cartridges, loading them into the chambers. To close the shotgun, manually push the barrel up. Alternatively, a snazzy way to close it, is to flip the gun up. Finally, pull the lever on the front of the barrel backwards to engage the cartridges ready for use.
Tip: As long as you have at least one cartridge in the chamber, there is no need to pull the side lever to engage the cartridges.
A fully upgraded shotgun will cost you 105 resins
With the resin savings made from not purchasing the pistol Reflex Site earlier on, go ahead and buy the Laser Sight - It’s a good upgrade! The laser sight helps increase accuracy and is far better when tracking your adversaries, not having to focus too much on manually aiming. The shotgun’s immense power is ideal when it comes to taking down large groups of enemies, certainly at close range.
Similar to that of the pistol - the shotgun also has a dual-shot upgrade, the ‘Double Shot’. The gun doesn’t fire two shots off at once, it just means that you can fire two shots in quick succession, as opposed to a single, slower, one-shot cycle. The Double Shot upgrade is ideal for killing the tougher enemies quickly when at close range.
Tip: Save 25 resin pucks and skip the Double Shot upgrade. Just fire twice!
The Autoloader is probably the best upgrade for the shotgun. It’s a mechanical cartridge feeder that automatically loads the shotgun as you fire, so no more fumbling around frantically trying to reload anymore - well, not until you run out of cartridges again. Loading is quicker too, 3 at a time instead of the usual 1 or 2. The Autoloader makes the whole process far less stressful and is very advantageous in tight combat situations. To load the cartridge feeder press the 'A' button.
Another favourite, and a must if you can ever afford to upgrade to it, the grenade launcher is a nifty gadget that attaches to the end of the barrel. It allows you to store a grenade there at all times, ready for when you need it. Another advantage of the mod is that it essentially becomes another inventory slot.
Attach a grenade by simply clipping it on the end of the barrel. To arm the grenade ready for firing, you push the slide lever forward on the underside of the barrel. To disable it, grab and remove the grenade. On firing the laser sight shows the arc of the grenade's trajectory. There is no timing on the grenade to worry about either. It will simply explode on impact.
Using the grenade launcher is so much more accurate than throwing one and really good for pinpointing and taking out groups of soldiers and especially useful when used against the Combine Heavies.
Ah! the SMG, a favourite weapon of the Combine soldiers. It’s a pretty high-tech firearm, equipped with some truly remarkable technology. It uses plasma-shards as opposed to bullets, and not only that, the SMG is genetically bonded to its owner, which essentially renders it useless to anyone else, should you ever manage to get your grubby little hands on one, or happen to stumble upon one that’s un-bonded… but that will never happen, right...
The Combine SMG is very different to what you’re probably accustomed to, in that it doesn't use magazine clips, instead it uses power cells, however, as you’d expect, it’s still a rapid-fire weapon.
It’s default storage capacity is 30 rounds per cell. This provides you with an adequate amount of ammo, enough to spray entire groups of enemy soldiers and the odd bunch of Headcrabs, however, the SMG isn’t as impressive as you may think. It’s an ‘okay’ weapon I guess, but it only provides about half the killing power of the pistol. However, it does fire a lot more projectiles (plasma shards), which greatly increases your chances of hitting something. The SMG isn’t a very steady shooter either. Oh! Before I forget, the SMG is acquired in the Quarantine Zone. Good luck finding it and be careful of the Headcrabs. That’s all I’m going to say.
Loading the SMG is the easiest of all weapons to load. Retrieve a power cell by reaching over your shoulder and clip it into the front side of the gun, the SMG will quickly absorb the energy pellet containing the plasma-shards from the power cell, and its casing will break free, falling to the ground. Once the charge from the pellet has been depleted, the used energy pellet is automatically ejected. Then it’s just a case of grabbing a new power cell and plugging it in. How easy is that! There’s no need to eject anything, it’s just crazy simple! There are a few downsides though:
A fully upgraded SMG will cost you 70 resins
Similar to that of the Reflex Sight on the pistol, only more advanced, with a much improved scope for pinpointing the enemy. As with the pistol, this mod also highlights the enemy weak spots in orange when you look down the scope. This feature is also very useful in the dark or dark areas. For 15 resin pucks it’s a good buy.
The laser sight is a nice addition to the SMG, another highly recommended upgrade. It assists in improving accuracy by shining a blue beam of light, negating the need to look down the sights and helping you better track your enemies, ideal when firing from the hip. The Laser Sight is especially useful for taking out confined groups of enemies in quick succession and at long distances.
It won't take you long to deplete those power cells, so the extended mag is a no-brainer really, another good upgrade should you have the puck! With the upgrade the SMG allows you to stow away an additional 3 power cells, so assuming you already have one loaded, you’ll have a total of 120 plasma-shards at your disposal. Ideal for use on the Antlions.
To load the additional power cells, press the ‘A’ button to open the loader and simply pop them into the new mag extension on the side of the gun. Side flipping the gun to close it.
There are two types of grenades in Half-Life: Alyx - the first is the standard grenade used by the Combine soldiers. They can be stowed on the end of the shotgun or in your wrist pockets. Technically, if you were greedy - you could carry a maximum of 4 at any one time if you were to carry one by hand as well. Grenades are activated by pushing a small button on its face, then throwing it. Alternatively they can be fired via the shotgun, providing you have the mod installed. They are pretty powerful and have multiple uses - such as:
Xen grenades. These are actually organic explosives and are pretty plentiful in the right areas. They are found and abstracted from a worm-like dispenser, similar to that of a human arm emulating from the ground. Just like the standard Combine grenade, they can also be thrown or fired from your shotgun. The Xen grenade isn't quite as powerful, but can save you loads of ammo. Grab them anytime you see Xen grenade dispenser. You can take as many as you want, as the Xen plant has slow reflexes and grenades can easily be snatched from its grasp… again carry capacity is up to a maximum of 4.
Finally… bottles! Well, they aren’t really a weapon as such, more of a tool than anything else. Bottles come in handy when you reach Chapter 7 ‘Jeff’ and are a necessity should you ever want to evade Jeff. Intrigued? Click here to find out more ‘How to beat Jeff’.... “Who the hell is Jeff!”
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