We are hiring a new server admin! Click here to see job details on our forum.

Half-Life

From PCGamingWiki, the wiki about fixing PC games
Half-Life
Half-Life cover
Developers
Valve Corporation
Publishers
Sierra Entertainment
Valve Corporation
Engines
GoldSrc
Release dates
Windows November 19, 1998
macOS (OS X) January 25, 2013
Linux January 25, 2013
Half-Life guide at StrategyWiki
Half-Life at Wikipedia
Half-Life
Half-Life 1998
Half-Life: Opposing Force 1999
Half-Life: Blue Shift 2001
Codename: Gordon 2004
Half-Life: Source 2004
Half-Life 2 2004
Half-Life 2: Deathmatch 2004
Half-Life 2: Lost Coast 2005
Half-Life Deathmatch: Source 2006
Half-Life 2: Episode One 2006
Half-Life 2: Episode Two 2007
Portal (series)
Half-Life: Decay (unofficial port) 2008
Black Mesa (unofficial) TBA

This page is for the original game. For the Source engine port, see Half-Life: Source. For the unofficial remake, see Black Mesa.

General information

Unofficial Half-Life Wiki
GitHub Issue Tracker for Half-Life and other GoldSrc-based games
Steam Community Discussions

Availability[edit]

Source DRM Notes Keys OS
Retail
Disc check (requires the CD/DVD in the drive to play)
CD key
Disc only needed to play CD music, and in previous versions; authenticate.
Icon overlay.png
Windows
Steam
Icon overlay.png
Windows
macOS (OS X)
Linux
All non-Steam releases can be redeemed on Steam.
Soundtrack is available for free here.
Steam Edition has been updated to have full OpenGL support with texture filtering and smooth dynamic lighting.

Demos[edit]

Half-Life: Uplink[edit]

The official public demo that includes an exclusive chapter (and a training level) with content not found in the full release. It can be downloaded here.
The demo uses an older version of GoldSrc and may have compatibility issues with modern systems. For full compatibility, the SteamLink mod reworks the demo as a Half-Life mod.

Half-Life: Day One[edit]

A pre-release demo exclusive to OEMs. It contains the chapters from the full release up to and including "We've Got Hostiles" (5 chapters and a training level). It can be downloaded here.
Note that the demo uses an older version of GoldSrc and may have compatibility issues with modern systems.

Version differences[edit]

Half-Life: Game of the Year Edition comes with both the base game and Team Fortress Classic.
Half-Life: Dreamcast is an unreleased port of Half-Life to the Sega Dreamcast. It includes various differences from the PC release (ex. modified levels, new models, adjusted difficulty, etc.). A mod that ports the Dreamcast version as a Half-Life mod is available on Mod DB.

Essential improvements[edit]

Skip intro videos[edit]

Steam release already skips intro videos.
Use the -nointro command line argument[citation needed]

Game data[edit]

Configuration file(s) location[edit]

System Location
Windows <path-to-game>\Half-Life\valve\
macOS (OS X) <path-to-game>/Half-Life/valve/
Linux <path-to-game>/Half-Life/valve/
*.cfg store the configuration.
This game does not follow the XDG Base Directory Specification on Linux.

Save game data location[edit]

System Location
Windows <path-to-game>\Half-Life\valve\SAVE\
macOS (OS X) <path-to-game>/Half-Life/valve/SAVE
Linux <path-to-game>/Half-Life/valve/SAVE/

Save game cloud syncing[edit]

System Native Notes
Steam Cloud

Video settings[edit]

In-game video settings (Steam version)
In-game video settings (Steam version)
Graphics option Option WSGF Notes
Widescreen resolution
Need to adjust FOV accordingly so first person view doesn't seem cropped. Use Half-Life Resolution Patcher for non-Steam versions.
Multi-monitor
Ultra-widescreen
Need to adjust FOV accordingly so first person view doesn't seem cropped.
4K Ultra HD
Both in-game and menu UI become too small.
Field of view (FOV)
See Field of view (FOV)
Windowed
Borderless fullscreen windowed
Use the -window -noborder command line arguments.
Anisotropic filtering (AF)
16 samples set by default in Steam version. Can be customized with gl_ansio X command with X as number of samples.
See OpenGL texture filtering to disable texture filtering altogether.
Anti-aliasing (AA)
4x MSAA set by default in Steam version. Use -nomsaa command line argument to force disable.
Vertical sync (Vsync)
60 FPS
120+ FPS
See High frame rate.
High dynamic range display (HDR)
See OpenGL overbright lighting to increase the rendering dynamic range.
For a list of console commands, see here.

High frame rate[edit]

Capped at 100 fps or 72 fps if VSync off.
Use +developer 1 +fps_override 1 +fps_max ### command line argument[2]
Disabling the cap affects enemy turn speed and has other side effects.[1]

Field of view (FOV)[edit]

FOV adjustment may be necessary at widescreen resolutions.
Field of view[citation needed]
  1. While in game, open the console (~).
  2. Type default_fov 106.270273206 and press Enter.

OpenGL texture filtering[edit]

By default the filtering is enabled (not in Software rendering mode).
Disable OpenGL texture filtering[3]
  1. Go to <path-to-game>.
  2. Create a file called autoexec.cfg.
  3. Add new line gl_texturemode gl_nearest.
  4. Save the file.

Notes

Using the line gl_texturemode gl_nearest_mipmap_linear instead will prevent some textures from flickering at a distance.

OpenGL overbright lighting[edit]

Overbright lighting increases the rendering dynamic range, resulting in a primitive "bloom" effect.
Overbright lighting normally only works on the Direct3D and software renderers.[4]
Nvidia cards: Enable the GL extension limiter[5]
  1. Download and run Nvidia Profile Inspector.
  2. On the Half-Life profile, set Extension limit to On. Apply changes.
  3. Go to <path-to-game>.
  4. Create a file called autoexec.cfg.
  5. Add new line gl_overbright "1".
  6. Save the file.

Notes

Doing this will disable multi-texturing, which has the side-effect of disabling detail textures, which may effect the appearance of user levels and mods.

Input settings[edit]

In-game key map settings (Steam version)
In-game key map settings (Steam version)
In-game mouse/joystick settings (Steam version)
In-game mouse/joystick settings (Steam version)

Audio settings[edit]

In-game audio settings (Steam version)
In-game audio settings (Steam version)
Audio options Native Notes
Separate volume controls
Surround sound
Lost with Linux update.[6]
Subtitles
Use Half-Life: Subtitles mod
Closed captions
Mute on focus lost
EAX support
A3D 2.0[7][8] and EAX were supported.
Both have been removed during the transition to SteamPipe.[9]
See MetaAudio for Steam version.

Localizations

Language UI Audio Sub Notes
English
French
German
Censored (enemy soldiers replaced with robots, gore removed). Uncut on the Steam version after April 29, 2017.
Italian
Korean
Spanish
Simplified Chinese
Traditional Chinese
Russian

Network[edit]

In-game multiplayer settings (Steam version)
In-game multiplayer settings (Steam version)
For more information, see the "Half-Life Dedicated Server" section of our GoldSrc article.
Steam Edition actively supported via Steamworks with a small but dedicated community.

Multiplayer types

Type Native Players Notes
LAN play
32 Versus, Co-op
Use Sven Co-op for co-op (see the FAQ).
Online play
32 Versus, Co-op
Use Sven Co-op for co-op (see the FAQ).

Connection types

Type Native Notes
Matchmaking
Peer-to-peer
Dedicated
Servers are hosted using a separate "hlds.exe," which can be downloaded with SteamCMD.
Self-hosting
Only LAN, by default. Use sv_lan 0 in the main menu and, if you have port forwarding set up, others can connect with the connect "ip address" command.
Direct IP
Open the console (~) and use connect followed by the IP and port.

Ports

Protocol Port(s) and/or port range(s)
UDP 6003, 7002, 27010, 27015, 27025
Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) support status is unknown.

VR support[edit]

Headsets Native Notes
HTC Vive
See VR.
Oculus Rift
See VR.
OSVR
Windows Mixed Reality
See VR.
Devices Native Notes
Tracked motion controllers
See Input settings for details.
Traditional controller Partial support See Input settings for details.
Keyboard/Mouse
Novint Falcon
The official game-specific 3D Touch Add On is required.
Play area Native Notes
Seated
Standing
Room-scale

VR[edit]

Install Half-Life-VR Mod[10]
  1. Install Half-Life VR Mod into game root.
  2. Add -game vr -dev -env -insecure -nomouse -nojoy +sv_lan 1 +sv_maxspeed 125 to launch options.
  3. Set opengl32.dll to Read-Only in the installation folder.
  4. Set game to windowed.

Issues fixed[edit]

Missing Blood & Gore on Steam Version[edit]

There is an issue with the current Steam release of Half Life, put short you can end up downloading the censored version regardless of your location.
Download this file to restore the lost gore https://www.moddb.com/downloads/hl-steam-gore-fix[citation needed]

Input Lag in Direct3D[edit]

On certain graphics cards, using the D3D renderer can result in severe input lag, even with disabled VSync.
Set gl_d3dflip 1[11]

Missing Decals in Direct3D[edit]

Use gl_polyoffset -0.01[citation needed]

Color depth in the retail version[edit]

The retail version defaults to 16-bit color depth.
Run game with -32bpp argument[citation needed]

Fatal Error - Available memory less than 15MB[edit]

Run the game in compatibility mode for Windows XP[citation needed]

Windows 7/Vista Performance Fix[edit]

In Windows 7 or Vista, some users may experience extremely low frame rates during gameplay, even if their PC can run modern games perfectly.
Set HL.exe to high priority[citation needed]
  1. Open Half-Life.
  2. Press Ctrl+Esc+ Shift in order to open the Task Manager.
  3. Under the Processes tab, find HL.exe and right click it.
  4. Set its priority to high.

Missing Voice and Multiplayer Tabs under Options[edit]

Replace the liblist.gam file[12]
  1. Make sure you've exited out of Half-Life
  2. Download the replacement liblist.gam file from here (Download starts immediately).
  3. Extract into the valve folder in the installation folder, replacing the existing file when prompted.

Other information[edit]

API[edit]

Technical specs Supported Notes
Direct3D 7 Lost with Linux update.[13]
OpenGL 2.1 3DFX MiniGL included (retail version only).
Software renderer
64-bit executable
OS X and Linux only.[citation needed]

Middleware[edit]

Middleware Notes
Audio Miles Sound System
Multiplayer WON, Steamworks WON for retail, Steamworks for Steam. WON has been shut down on July 31, 2004; fans have since recreated the network as WON2.[14]

Mods[edit]

Xash3D[edit]

Xash3D is a custom GoldSrc build made to overcome the limit of the GoldSrc engine and fix compatibility issues on modern systems.
It also brings back features that were removed from the recent update for Half Life through alternative means such as using OpenAL Soft for the 3D sound.

MetaAudio[edit]

Alternative audio pipeline for GoldSrc. Re-implements 3D audio without replacing entire rendering pipeline. Combines A3D’s HRTF and Occlusion with EAX’s reverb.[15]
Not compatible with software renderer.[16]
Must use -insecure command line argument. Do not use on VAC secured server.

Higher definition models[edit]

The High Definition Pack replaces most weapon and player/enemy models with higher polygon versions. For other options follow this guide.
The option to enable the pack in-game is in the options menu, and the game must be restarted for it to take effect.
The effect changes the art style dramatically, and whether or not it's desirable is up to personal preference.

Restoring Original Menu[edit]

Half-Life's main menu was changed with the game's transition from the WON (World Opponent Network) system to Steam. This mod restores the look of the original menus and adds the PlayStation 2 version of the menu music. An alternate GameBanana download link can be found here.
Menus are 4:3 by default and cannot be stretched to fullscreen. In-game is untouched.

Crosshair[edit]

See Half-Life Crosshair Changer to customize the crosshairs.

Enabling developer mode[edit]

Enabling developer mode will allow use of in-game cheats and various console commands.
Use the developer 1 in console[citation needed]

Notes

The developer console can be opened by pressing ~. You may have to turn it on in the in-game settings first.
You can use the console command sv_cheats 1 to allow the usage of console commands such as god and noclip.
You might have to reload a save-game after enabling cheat-mode for certain commands to work.

Console commands[edit]

Games running on the GoldSrc engine can utilize GoldSrc Engine Console Commands for various tasks.
The console is enabled by default in GoldSrc games, press ~ to open it.

System requirements[edit]

Windows
Minimum Recommended
Operating system (OS) 95 98, NT
Processor (CPU) Intel Pentium 133 MHz Intel Pentium 166 MHz
System memory (RAM) 24 MB 32 MB
Hard disk drive (HDD) 400 MB
Video card (GPU) SVGA, high color (16-bit)
Sound (audio device) Windows-compatible sound card
macOS (OS X)
Minimum
Operating system (OS) 10.6.3
Processor (CPU) Intel Core 2 Duo
System memory (RAM) 1 GB
Hard disk drive (HDD) 4 GB
Video card (GPU) Nvidia GeForce 8xxx series
ATI Radeon X1600
Intel HD 3000
Linux
Minimum
Operating system (OS) Ubuntu 12.04
Processor (CPU) 2.8 GHz Dual Core
System memory (RAM) 1 GB
Hard disk drive (HDD) 4 GB
Video card (GPU) Nvidia GeForce 8600/9600 GT
ATI/AMD Radeon HD 2600/3600
OpenGL 2.1 compatible
Sound (audio device) OpenAL Compatible Sound Card
Other Graphic Drivers: Nvidia 310, AMD 12.11

References