It’s not the dream surprise many were hoping for, but once you realize what’s on offer, you’ll take it. To celebrate 25 years since the launch of the immortal Half-Life on November 19, 1998, Valve has dropped an hour-long documentary on its groundbreaking first-person shooter–while also making the game free, and releasing an absolute boatload of updates for its best-known title.
The Valve team said: “We got the band back together to celebrate this anniversary, and we invited the fine people at Secret Tape to film it all happening.
“Getting together after all this time was the perfect opportunity to revisit the game as it existed in its earliest forms, and to talk about how and why it eventually took shape the way it did. Check out the film to see what it was like to be a part of the team, way back then.”
I’d love to give you my review, but I’m typing this as I watch it–but good lord, it appears to be truly special [important update: if you played it when it originally launched, there’s a great chance you’ll get emotional like me]
. Check it out for yourself:
Coinciding with the documentary release is the Half-Life 25th Anniversary Update, which offers a ridiculous suite of bonuses–and the game itself is completely free on Steam if you get it before November 20.
New features for Half-Life’s 25th Anniversary Update:
- Half-Life Uplink, a mini-campaign built by the Half-Life team after the game went gold, which was originally released as a CD exclusive for magazines and hardware manufacturers
- Four new multiplayer maps created by Valve’s level designers that “push the limits of what’s possible in the Half-Life engine,” including ‘Contamination,’ ‘Pool Party,’ ‘Disposal,’ and ‘Rocket Frenzy’
- Updated graphics settings, which allow you to “[p]
lay the game the way it looked in 1998, but on a modern monitor”
- Other graphic options, including widescreen FOV, the opportunity to disable texture smoothing, lighting fixes, software rendering on Linux, and unfiltered textures
- Controller and Steam networking support
- Steam Deck support, after Valve “finally put our game through our own ‘Verified’ tests” and “failed super hard. So we fixed it!”
- UI scaling support for higher resolutions
- Restored content, bringing back the classic Valve logo video with its unforgettable music, plus a reskinned menu to mimic the 1998 build
- Ivan the Space Biker and Proto Barney–the “original heroes from the alpha builds of Half-Life”–are now available as multiplayer skins.
Half-Life 3 confirmed? Nah. Still, it’s nice to know that Valve still knows it’s on to a good thing. Maybe this is the kick up the arse they need to finish the series, or at least create Half-Life Alyx 2.
Learn more about today’s delightful news at the dedicated Half-Life 25th Anniversary page.