First-person shooter Half-Life turns 25 this weekend, and developer Valve is celebrating the occasion with a special anniversary update adding new and restored content, plus a bunch of other things. Oh, and it made the game free to claim and continue starting today.
Half-Life, for those too young or too in denial to remember, introduced the world to science nerd Gordon Freeman on November 19, 1998 (Freeman’s lifelong consequences would not materialize for some time later), and anyone looking to relive their memories of those happy days can now do so with a few extra fancy elements added.
Starting with the game itself, Half-Life has been given a soft touch for the modern era. There’s UI scaling for higher resolutions (“We built most of this for 640×480 CRTs and apparently some of you have upgraded since then,” says Valve ), and it now supports Steam network play and proper gamepad configuration “out of the box”.
Valve has also implemented widescreen FOV settings, Linux software rendering, lighting fixes, and a bunch of other quality of life improvements, bug fixes, and balance tweaks, as detailed in the detailed Anniversary Update patch notes. Plus, the whole thing has been tweaked to ensure it passes Valve’s Steam Deck Verified checks – and, for nostalgia fans, the classic Valve logo video and music have been restored to the start of the game, and the main menu has been revamped to match. construction in 1998.
Elsewhere, Half-Life now includes Half-Life Uplink, a mini-campaign built by the original development team and released as an exclusive CD for magazines and hardware manufacturers at the time. “As this was many people’s first experience of Half-Life,” Valve explains, “we thought it was finally time to bundle it with the main game – no sound card purchase necessary.”
Additionally, fans of the multiplayer mode can now get stuck into four all-new maps created by Valve’s level designers – Contamination, Pool Party, Disposal and Rocket Freny – all intended to “push the boundaries of what’s possible in the Half-Life engine. This is in addition to the three maps originally included in the Half-Life: Further Data retail CD – Double Cross, Rust Mill and Xen DM – as well as the disc skeleton and Too Much Coffee Man multiplayer skins. Other new multiplayer skins include Proto-Barney and Ivan the Space Biker, the original heroes from the alpha versions of Half-Life.
And finally, to cap off its 25th anniversary celebrations, Valve teamed up with Secret Tape to record an hour-long making-of documentary featuring the original Half-Life development team, which you can watch here -above.
If you’re still missing a copy of Half-Life in your Steam library but want to enjoy all this cool new (and old) stuff, Valve has you covered there too. The game is currently free on Steam for a limited time, and there are substantial discounts across the entire series – including 66% off the masterful Half-Life: Alyx – until November 21.
Gn En tech