Playing Half-Life 2 in 2021

(+Episode 1 and Episode 2)

Guernsey has entered its second Coronavirus lockdown so I’ve decided to replay Half-Life 2, Episode 1 and Episode 2. I’ve spent some time looking into what mods to use to get the best modern experience and documented my findings below.

Firstly, for Half-Life 2 itself, you absolutely want to use Half-Life 2: Update. This sort of officially endorsed mod adds…

while not messing with the gameplay.

Now, you could stop there but to take it to the next level I’d recommend MMod. This mod claims to do:

“The goal of Half-Life 2 : MMod is to enhance and expand gunplay, combat mechanics and the immersion factor by giving the Player more options and combat opportunities as well as refine how the Player handles his arsenal. Half-Life 2 : MMod also offers minor AI enhancements, extended abilities for combine soldiers, multiple bug fixes, enhanced visuals, VFX re-design, sound redesign and much much more, while keeping nearly every new feature in the mod totally optional.”

I am immensely impressed with most the improvements in this mod. The sound improves are great and the weapons feel like they pack a significant punch. This mod works with Half-Life 2: Update, EP1 and EP2 to boot. Even if you don’t like something, the changes as optional so you can just switch them off from the menu (e.g. lens dirt - why would anyone want that?).

Here are some screenshots of my play-through.

I haven’t gone this far but the next step seems to be using SMOD which adds new weapons, bullet time, melee, new NPCs amongst other things. I felt this was going too far from the original but maybe I’ll give it a try after this play-through.