Updated at: 20-04-2023 - By: Leo Hall
Need a chronological rundown of the Half-Life titles? You should probably check out all of the Half-Life games here because there are probably more than you realize.

Half-Life would likely rank highly if you were to make a list of the most important video games and video game franchises of all time.

This franchise, which just turned 20 years old, consists of a number of games and expansions, all of which we will list and briefly describe here.


Date of Publication: November 16, 1998

Windows, PS2, Linux, and macOS are the supported platforms.

The original Half-Life, created by Valve and released in 1998, was a truly remarkable video game. In hindsight, it may not seem like much, but back then, its stunning 3D environments and focus on story made it stand out from other first-person shooters.

All Half-Life Games are Free Through March - Thurrott.com

The player takes control of Gordon Freeman, the game’s mute protagonist, for the entirety of the first game and the majority of the series. After a botched experiment turns the Black Mesa Research Facility into an alien horde, Gordon must restore order using the tried-and-true first-person shooter method: lots of big guns.

The game has a wide variety of alien and human enemies, as well as platforming and puzzle elements. Putting it all together, you get an unforgettable gaming experience that still holds up pretty well.

The 1998 Windows version of Half-Life was later ported to the PlayStation 2 in 2001, and in 2013, the game was made available for the macOS and Linux platforms.

Half-Life: Opposing Force

The official date of release is 11/19/1999.

Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux

Released a full year after the original Half-Life, Opposing Force introduced players to Adrian Shephard, a US Marine who joins the assault on the Black Mesa facility. Therefore, the enlargement depicts the same events, but from a new perspective.

Opposing Force is an expansion pack, so it plays similarly to the original game but with improved visuals, new environments, and additional weapons.

It followed the same release schedule as the original game, debuting on Windows before moving to macOS and Linux in 2013, but skipping the PlayStation 2 altogether.

Half-Life: Blue Shift

Date of Publication: June 12, 2001

Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux

Blue Shift, the second Half-Life expansion, shared a premise with its predecessor, Opposing Force. Specifically, the player experiences the events that unfolded after the Black Mesa incident from the perspective of a different character.

This time, it’s Barney Calhoun, a security guard at Black Mesa who becomes a recurring character in the sequels.

While Blue Shift received a visual update, no substantial new features were included on top of the new content. The story isn’t expanded upon like in Opposing Force, and there aren’t any new enemies or weapons introduced, so the expansion is only lukewarm at best.

Similar to Opposing Force, Blue Shift debuted on Windows before being ported to macOS and Linux more than a decade later. The Dreamcast version of the game was planned but never released.

Half-Life: Decay

Dissemination Begins on November 14, 2001

System Requirements: PS2

Decay, the third and final add-on for Half-Life, was a thrilling addition to the franchise. The setting is Black Mesa again, but instead of a single protagonist, the player controls a duo.

Playing as either Colette Green or Gina Cross, two Black Mesa scientists, Decay was intended to be a cooperative multiplayer experience. The gameplay is similar to the original Half-Life, but the focus is now on cooperative action.

Though it was likely intended for co-op play between two people, it can be enjoyed by a single player as well. In that case, the player can solve puzzles by switching between the two characters, one of whom is controlled by the player while the other is controlled by artificial intelligence.

Due to its exclusivity to the PlayStation 2, Decay did not sell as well as its predecessor DLC packs. To be fair, it’s a fun game in its own right, even if it doesn’t quite capture the same combat and story-focused atmosphere that set Half-Life apart.

Half-Life: Source

Published on June 1, 2004.

Windows, macOS, and Linux are all supported.

Prior to the release of Half-Life 2, Valve released a remastered version of the first game, Half-Life, which was presented in the company’s new Source engine and featured a number of enhancements.

Since it recycled the original game’s assets and made few mechanical changes, Half-Life: Source can’t be considered a remake.

Aside from updated artificial intelligence and improved physics, the gameplay remains largely unchanged from the original. Some other minor adjustments were made to the level layout, but nothing of note was added or taken away.

Half-Life: Source is now available for PC, Mac, and Linux users.

All Half-Life Games In Order By Release Date

Half-Life 2

Date of publication: November 16, 2004

PC, Xbox, Xbox 360, PS3, PS Vita, Mac OS X, Linux, and Android

Valve did it again in 2004. With Half-Life 2, they continued Gordon Freeman’s story and added even more groundbreaking features. In Half-Life 2, you’ll get out of Black Mesa for good.

In this new world, alien invaders have wiped out human civilization and taken control. Furthermore, these aliens look a lot scarier and smarter than the ones the player faced in the previous games.

The emphasis on storytelling has been cranked up a notch, and the series finally has a cast of characters that feels genuine and likeable.

Half-Life 2’s iconic Gravity Gun, powered by the versatile Source engine, allowed players to experiment with the game’s physics and use in-game objects as weapons. The enemy AI was also significantly improved, animations were smooth and lifelike, and visuals were stunning (for 2004).

Over the years, Half-Life 2 has been made available on many different platforms. The PC and original Xbox versions came out in 2004, followed by the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in 2007. It was ported to Android in 2014, but it’s only available on Nvidia SHIELD devices. It was originally released in 2010 for macOS and 2013 for Linux.

Half-Life 2: Deathmatch

Date of publication: 30 November 2004

Windows, macOS, and Linux are all supported.

Shortly after the initial release of Half-Life 2, a separate multiplayer expansion called Half-Life 2: Deathmatch was released. It lets players experience the power of the Source engine in a multiplayer setting and boasts a wide variety of maps.

Of course, it doesn’t add anything to the franchise’s story and it lacks any sort of single-player mode. It was released on macOS and Linux in addition to Windows, but not on consoles, as was previously mentioned.

Half-Life 2: Lost Coast

Dissemination Begins on October 27, 2005

Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux are the supported operating systems.

A tech demo more than a game, Lost Coast followed Half-Life 2 by about a year. One level from the original game was scrapped and recycled for this demo of the Source engine’s HDR rendering capabilities.

However, a Half-Life fan will want to play it only because of the one particularly well-designed level it contains. It was released for PCs (Windows, Mac, and Linux) but not consoles (like Deathmatch).

Half-Life Deathmatch: Source

Date of Publication: May 1, 2006

Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS X, and Linux

Again, the name pretty much says it all: Half-Life Deathmatch: Source is the independent multiplayer release focused on the Deathmatch game mode for Half-Life: Source, just as Half-Life 2: Deathmatch was for Half-Life 2. Windows, macOS, and Linux users can now download it.

Half-Life 2: Episode One

Date of Publication: June 1, 2006

Windows, PS3, Xbox 360, macOS, Linux, and other platforms.

Half-Life 2: Episode One is the first of three planned episodic expansion packs, and it picks up directly after the conclusion of the main game, with the player once again controlling Gordon within the confines of the Combine Citadel.

Two new and interesting gameplay elements are introduced in this installment: a gravity gun that can manipulate living matter and a companion named Alyx whose artificial intelligence (AI) works so well in the game’s environments and encounters that she feels like a genuine help rather than a hindrance.

The PC version of Episode One debuted in 2006, and the console ports of both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 followed in 2007. This also holds true for macOS. Episode One for Linux was also released a month after the initial Half-Life 2 port.

Half-Life 2: Episode Two

Date of publication: 10 October 2007

Hardware: PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Mac, and Linux

The second episode of Half-Life 2 was supposed to be the second-to-last add-on, but it turned out to be the last. Episode Two continues directly from where Episode One left off, both in the main game and in the supplementary episodes.

The numerous new enemies, relatively open environments, and excellent semi-open vehicle level all contribute to Episode 2’s general consensus as being vastly superior to Episode 1. The plot effectively builds up to a climax that we unfortunately never got to see, and the gameplay is overall very dynamic and memorable.

Episode Two was made available for the same platforms as the first expansion: Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, macOS, and Linux.

Black Mesa

Date of publication: March 6, 2020

Microsoft Windows and Linux

Now we move on to Black Mesa, a complete fan remake of the first Half-Life in the Source engine with all new content and graphical upgrades.

Some levels were also reworked, most notably the Xen chapters that conclude the game, and the AI of the game’s enemies was enhanced. The gameplay is fundamentally unchanged from the original “Half-Life.”

Black Mesa’s development began in 2008; the Early Access version was released on Steam in 2015; and the final version was released in March 2020. As stated previously, the Crowbar Collective is a non-profit organization comprised of developers from all over the world who worked together to create this fan-made remake. It supports both Microsoft Windows and Linux.

Half-Life: Alyx

Date of publication: March 23, 2020

Windows-Based Systems

Half-Life: Alyx, a new virtual reality game, comes in last. The announcement of a new official Half-Life game in November 2019 came as a complete surprise to fans. This would be the first Half-Life game in over a decade.

As the name suggests, Alyx Vance is the main character in Half-Life: Alyx, a prequel that delves into the events leading up to Half-Life 2. The game utilizes the Source 2 engine, and the core mechanics were built with virtual reality in mind.

However, Valve made excellent use of the player’s newfound ability to interact with the world in a more realistic fashion, making the experience of using a gun and interacting with other objects in the environment feel more immersive than ever before.

Tense combat, a strong emphasis on exploration, and a smattering of puzzles round out the package. Furthermore, the plot is consistent with previous entries in the series. The fact that the single-player campaign can last anywhere from 13 to 15 hours further reassures you that this isn’t a cheap VR gimmick.

Of course, there’s no denying that Half-Life: Alyx is a fantastic virtual reality game. It was designed for virtual reality headsets, and Valve has said they have no plans to release a traditional version of the game.

Many long-time fans of the franchise who had no interest in VR and weren’t willing/able to spend upwards of $400 on a VR headset felt inevitably excluded, despite the fact that the game is playable on any SteamVR-compatible headset (Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Meta Quest, and all Windows Mixed Reality headsets).

Modders, on the other hand, are working tirelessly to make the game accessible without VR, though it’s not exactly a smooth experience and will take some time to iron out the flaws fully. Regardless, Half-Life: Alyx is a great addition to the series because it is an AAA game of the highest caliber in every way.

The series’ unexpected comeback has fans hoping for new Half-Life games in the near future. The release of Alyx has only just begun, so official statements from Valve about upcoming projects would be premature. Despite this, it seems likely that Half-Life will continue to grow in popularity.

Portal – 2007 (Spin-Off)

In 2007, Portal was released for PC, Xbox 360, and PS3. It was first seen by the public in Valve’s The Orange Box.

The player is given a teleportation gun and a series of puzzles to solve. The weapon, in essence, can be used to open portals across a vast underground science facility.

The main character is named Chell. The artificial intelligence GLaDOS taunts her with the promise of cake if she successfully completes the teleportation experiment.

Portal’s success stems from its offbeat characters, its innovative physics engine, and the freedom to use any object in the world to advance the plot.

Portal Games in Order [2023 Complete List] - GamingScan

Portal 2 – 2011 (Spin-Off)

In 2011, Portal 2 was released for PC, Mac, PS3, and Xbox 360. It’s a continuation of the Half-Life canon and a sequel to Portal.

The game’s core mechanics revolve around the Portal Gun in a similar fashion.

Chell uses GLaDOS’s reconstruction of the Aperture Science Enrichment Center as a guide. In the cooperative mode, two players split control of the lab’s two robots, Atlas and P-Body.


What Are the Half-Life Spin-off Series?

Valve took a chance on the multiplayer PvP market after introducing the Source game engine in Half-Life: Source.

Counter-Strike was first made available in 2000 for Microsoft Windows. It was an extensive series that lasted eight games.

Similarly, Valve’s Day of Defeat is another offspring. It was released in 2003 for Windows using the GoldSrc game engine. It’s a World War II-themed multiplayer first-person shooter with no sequel.

Do I Need to Play Half-Life Games in Order?

Half-Life 2 can be enjoyed without first playing the original. However, it is imperative that you play the episodes of Half-Life 2 in the correct order.

Then you should give Alyx a chance if you’re a true fan. Those who are still hungry for more after finishing the original Half-Life should look into the game’s DLC.

The Final Word

And that concludes the complete collection of Half-Life games available to date! Nobody knows if this list will keep growing, but we hope it does.

Feel free to point out any omissions or errors in the comments section, and we’ll do our best to correct them as soon as we can.