Half-Life 2 – play it for free (pic: Valve)

Valve are trying to drum up interest in Half-Life: Alyx by offering all the previous games for free, if you need to catch up on the story.

It’s hard to imagine anyone with a gaming PC that hasn’t played Half-Life before, but if you want a crash course in Half-Life then you can play all the games for free now via Steam.

Everything Half-Life will be free for the next two months, until the release of VR game Half-Life: Alyx sometime in March, which if nothing else should reassure fans worried that the game’s going to be delayed like so many others this month.

Even if you have played them before though the most important thing is the chance for a refresher on the plot, with the new game taking part between Half-Life 1 and 2.

Valve has already advised you familiarise yourself with Half-Life 2: Episode One and Episode Two as well, even though they take part after the new game, which may imply the second one’s storyline is going to be wrapped up in some way.

That means the most important ones to play through are Half-Life, Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episode One, and Half-Life 2: Episode Two in that order.

Handily, the Half-Life Complete bundle contains all of those, so since it’s also free the best thing is to download that and get playing.

(If you’re wondering about time investment, the two main games are about 12 hours long each and the episodes are four or five each.)

The Complete bundle also includes Half-Life: Opposing Force and Half-Life: Blue Shift (made by Borderlands developer Gearbox) and Team Fortress Classic, while fan mods such as Half-Life 2: Year Long Alarm were always free if you become desperate for more Half-Life after that.

Somewhat surprisingly Portal 1 and 2 are not free, even though they technically take part in the same universe. Which may be an indication that Half-Life: Alyx doesn’t plan to reference them in anything other than Easter eggs.

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