The iconic giant that is the Half-Life franchise is turning 25, and Valve is celebrating the special occasion with a surprise update to the game that started it all. It carries restored content, new graphics settings, widescreen field of view support, multiplayer maps, the original Valve intro, bug fixes, and much more.
Moreover, anyone can now claim a copy of Half-Life and add it permanently to their Steam library. The promotion is slated to run through the weekend, giving everyone a chance to give Gordon Freeman’s first adventure a try.
“We are very proud of what we built back then and we remain extremely grateful for the community of players who have been enjoying it ever since,” says Valve regarding the update. “The game hasn’t received as much attention in recent years as many other titles in our catalog, so we thought this milestone was a great opportunity to spruce up the player experience and add some fun new ways to play the game.”
Content from the CD exclusives Half-Life Uplink and Half-Life: Further Data, four new multiplayer maps, UI scaling for high resolution displays, native controller and Steam networking support, and even Steam Deck support is now included in the game. The alpha protagonists before Gordon took the role, Ivan the Space Biker and Proto-Barney are also in the game now as multiplayer skins.
After putting in fixes and enhancements, Half-Life is now Steam Deck Verified as well. Valve also described the updated graphics settings as these:
Widescreen field of view!
Option to disable texture smoothing on the GL renderer!
Lighting fixes including the long-lost GL Overbright support!
Software rendering on Linux! Crisp colors, animated water, and unfiltered textures!
Find the complete list of features, changes, and bug fixes on the Half-Life 25th Anniversary web page from Valve here. The company has also released a documentary that focuses on the original development team’s experiences as they worked on their debut game at Valve. Watch it below.
Released in 1998 as Valve Corporation’s debut product, it was developed using a modified version of the id Software’s Quake engine dubbed GoldSrc. The title famously revolutionized the first-person shooter genre with its release thanks to its unique scripted sequences, combat, puzzles, and exploration elements. It is considered to be one of the greatest games ever made.
The update and giveaway is for the base game, but the title also received two expansions back in the day by Gearbox Software: Opposing Force (1999) and Blue Shift (2001), which featured perspectives of new protagonists. Valve continued Gordon Freeman’s crowbar-wielding storyline with Half-Life 2 in 2004, followed by two sequels (Episode One and Two). The highly-anticipated sequel Half-Life 3 has eluded a launch still, but Half-Life: Alyx provided a prequel storyline as a virtual reality experience in 2020.
While no news has appeared regarding a sequel since then, Valve has expressed a desire to keep making more games in the franchise. Those looking for a more modern take on the title can also play Crowbar Collective’s Black Mesa. Originally released as a mod, it’s a complete remake of Half-Life made in the Source engine. Made with Valve approval, the title launched in 2020 as a full product.
Half-Life is now free to claim on Steam, with only a free account needed to add the title to a library. It can be played on Windows, macOS, and Linux. The giveaway is slated to end on November 20.