Half-Life Goes Free-to-Play, Gets Huge Update for Its 25th Anniversary

Half-Life 25th anniversary update

Half-Life is a game that has left behind an everlasting legacy. This game kickstarted the journey for Valve, who went on to launch Steam, Steam Deck, Counter-Strike, and many other titles. And fittingly enough, the company celebrates the 25th anniversary of Half-Life in the most deserving way possible by making the game free and dropping a BIG update.

Half-Life Goes Free As Valve Celebrates 25th Anniversary

The new Half-Life map added in the update

The first thing Valve did for the celebration was making the game free-to-claim for everyone. If you never purchased the original Half-Life, you can head over to Steam and claim it. The offer is available until November 20, 2023. If you own a Steam account, claim the title and play through the infamous Resonance Cascade event.

But, in typical fashion, Valve went above and beyond, dropping a free update. The new update celebrates the game’s rich history, fittingly named “The 25th Anniversary Update.” In the update, Valve packed a brand-new mini-campaign called Uplink.

They launched this on-disc exclusively for magazines and hardware manufacturers in the 90s. Developed by the team after the game went gold, Valve claims that for many, this was the first experience with the game. This mini-campaign has never launched officially until this update, and it is a small chunk of the broader adventure by Gordon Freeman.

Outside of Uplink, the update adds four new multiplayer maps designed by Valve-level designers. Named Contamination, Pool Party, Disposal, and Rocket Frenzy, each map provides a different gameplay experience. These are the first new maps the game has received in over a decade.

And it doesn’t end there, as Valve added three maps from the Further Data disc. They are named Double Cross, Rust Mill, and Xen DM. That’s seven new maps for players to enjoy. You also get four new multiplayer skins: Incredible Skeleton, Too Much Coffee Man, Space Biker, and Proto-Barney.

Plus, the update includes controller and networking support, updated graphics settings like widescreen FOV, texture smoothing toggle, lighting fixes, and software rendering on Linux. Furthermore, the entire UI got a rework to fit the modern monitors, scaling perfectly to higher resolution, and the old Valve start-up and main menu for Half-Life is back.

Also, to coincide with the new Steam Deck OLED launch, the game is finally verified on Steam Deck. I tried the title today, and it feels fantastic on my original 64GB system.

Finally, the new update also contains dozens of bug fixes for the game. The original Half-Life has many bugs, some funny, some annoying. And Valve engineers and developers sat down to fix almost every single one. The list of changes is vast to include here. Hence, we suggest you visit their new 25th-anniversary website and read the changes.

Valve Launches a Documentary to Celebrate the Game

Along with the impressive game update and offering the title for free, Valve also launched a 25th-anniversary documentary. The one-hour-long video brings back most of the developers from the original game, sharing and talking about the development of Half-Life.

Prominent people like Gabe Newell, Mike Harrington, and many others share their memories of the game in this documentary. It has been shot by Secret Tape, well-known for making video-game documentaries. Danny O’Dwyer, known for his NoClip documentaries and founder of Secret Tape, directed the entire project. He previously made a documentary on Half-Life for NoClip.

We rarely see developers paying this much attention to their legacy titles, and Valve is known for respecting and loving their past legacy. This 25th-anniversary celebration could’ve been wrapped up by making the game free. However, going out of their way to add this much content to the game is nothing short of impressive.

I’m not one for assumptions and conspiracy theories, but given that Steam Deck OLED dropped recently and Half-Life celebrated its 25th Anniversary, maybe we might finally get some news about the third game. Then again, we all know Valve doesn’t love the number three, so this is just wishful thinking on my part.

So, are you excited about the new update? Do you plan to play the game? If you’ve played it before, do you plan to revisit the title and play some Deathmatch? Let us know in the comments below.

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