Valve is celebrating the 25th anniversary of Half-Life with a big update to one of the most highly-rated and influential first person shooters of all time. The studio has dug through the archives to add old demo data, add both new and old multiplayer maps, and generally spruce the game up for modern systems (including proper Steam Deck support).
For the anniversary, they’ve also released an hour-long documentary about the making of the game, reuniting the original development team to talk about its creation.
One of the headline additions is Half-Life Uplink, a mini-campaign that was built as a CD exclusive for magazines and hardware manufacturers. For many, this would have been the first introduction to Half-Life.
Then there’s a whole bunch of additional multiplayer maps. Double Cross, Rust Mill and Xen DM have been scrounged up from the Half-Life: Further Data discs that was found at stores, but perhaps more exciting are the four brand new maps – Contamination, Pool Party, Disposal and Rocket Frenzy – which have been made to try and push the old original engine further.
They’ve also brought back the skeleton (now with tintable eyes), Too Much Coffee Man, as well as Ivan the Space Biker and Proto-Barney as multiplayer skins.
Speaking of the engine, Valve has added a bunch of options to help get the game closer to how it would have originally looked, but render that on a modern monitor. No, that doesn’t mean CRT filters, but rather there’s options to disable texture smoothing and lighting fixes to capture the old GL Overbright look. On Linux there’s now software rendering, and modern computer support means there’s widescreen field of view options. Oh, and the UI is now 4K compatible, so it’s not just tiny, and they’ve restored original menu art and the like.
All of this comes alongside proper Steam Deck support and a gamepad config, so Valve are really blending together a desire for better support on modern systems in general, while also preserving the game and what would otherwise be lost content.