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Durable Headcrab variant
The Armored Headcrab behaves and appears largely identical to the normal Headcrab apart from its hard shell with protruding red spikes on its back and on the joints of its front legs that renders it impervious to all attacks except those to its underside. The Armored Headcrab, just like its normal form, can latch onto the skulls of victims, creating Zombies that are immune to headshots. Once the Armored Headcrab Zombie is killed, the Armored Headcrab will detach and begin searching for a new host body. To kill an Armored Headcrab, one must wait for it to flip onto its back, exposing a glowing heart in its mouth which spontaneously explodes upon being shot.
It is not clear how Armored Headcrabs are formed. However, armor-like growths are seen developing in areas overrun by Xen infestation. Loose armor shells scattered around these growths are also a common sight which Alyx will comment on with curiosity if picked up. One Armored Headcrab is seen initially hiding inside its shell by tucking its legs in, blending in with other nearby empty shells.
Behind The Scenes
Xen fauna called a "Headcrab Cluster" in the game files is often seen growing near the armor-like growths mentioned above. The fragility of the Armored Headcrab combined with the bits of armor growth on their claws could suggest Armored Headcrabs are relatively young.[source?] Shells are often seen growing onto these clusters, which implies that Armored Headcrabs are born into these shells, and then when they're old enough, they shed them. This would explain all the discarded shells seen by Alyx in the Headcrab infested sewers.
An early render of the Armored Headcrab model includes an unused version with pink crystalline growths on the Headcrab's skin, implying that there were to be different variants of this creature.