Half-Life is one of the greatest video games of all time and just ahead of its 25th anniversary on Sunday, Valve has released a major update for the first-person shooter. For one thing, the base game now includes Half-Life Uplink. This was a demo of Half-Life, but most of its content doesn't appear in the original game.
Uplink was initially available on CDs that came free with magazines (remember those?) and hardware like sound cards. It's also been available on the internet for a while for those who know where to look. But now players can access it by clicking the New Game button in Half-Life itself.
On top of that, Valve has added four spanking new multiplayer maps. Some might seem familiar, such as one based on an abandoned Xen outpost and another set at an old orbital satellite launch facility. "If we could switch on the oxygen lines, power, and fuel, we might just be able to light this candle," Valve said. The company has added three other maps that were originally available on a disc called Half-Life: Further Data.
You can now, at long last, play the original Half-Life in widescreen without having to resort to mods or the fan remake Black Mesa. Valve has added controller support along with a string of other under-the-hood updates, UI tweaks and bug fixes. Steam Networking support should make multiplayer smoother too.
Half-Life turns 25 this weekend, and we're pushing a big update to bring back some of that 1998 feeling with restored original launch day content, brand new multiplayer maps, a look behind the scenes with the original development team, and more: https://t.co/ceV4oePUyP pic.twitter.com/1eOtLiHXbE— Valve (@valvesoftware) November 17, 2023
Although it's a critical part of Valve's history, Half-Life hadn't been Verified for Steam Deck until now. It instead bore the Playable label. "We finally put our game through our own 'Verified' tests, and... we failed super hard," Valve wrote. "So we fixed it! After re-testing the game, Half-Life gets to officially wear the green checkmark." So, that means it should run on your new Steam Deck OLED without a hitch.
Best of all, in case you somehow don't already have it in your library, Half-Life is free on Steam until November 20. Various Half-Life and Valve bundles are on sale too, while Half-Life Alyx is 66 percent off at $20.39.
It's worth noting that Valve now considers the anniversary edition of Half-Life "to be the definitive version, and the one we'll continue to support going forward." As such, Valve says Half Life: Source will be less prominent on Steam, but it will remain available so modders can continue using its assets.
"We launched Half-Life on November 19, 1998. 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," Valve said. "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."
Last but not least, Valve has released a new documentary to mark the 25th anniversary. The 65-minute film features developers and Valve co-founders discussing the company's early days and their memories of working on Half-Life. Happy birthday, Mr. Freeman.