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

Half-Life cover
Valve Corporation
1998-2005 Sierra On-Line
2005-present Valve Corporation
Release dates
Windows November 19, 1998
macOS (OS X) January 25, 2013
Linux January 25, 2013
Metacritic 96
Monetization One-time game purchase
Microtransactions None
Modes Singleplayer, Multiplayer
Pacing Real-time
Perspectives First-person
Controls Direct control
Genres FPS
Art styles Realistic
Themes Sci-fi, North America
Series Half-Life
Half-Life on HowLongToBeat
Half-Life on IGDB
Half-Life guide on StrategyWiki
Half-Life on MobyGames
Half-Life on Wikipedia
Half-Life mods and fangames (series)
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
Half-Life: Alyx 2020


The macOS (OS X) version of this game does not work on macOS Catalina (version 10.15) or later due to the removal of support for 32-bit-only apps.

Half-Life is a singleplayer and multiplayer first-person FPS game in the Half-Life series.

Originally published by Sierra Entertainment from 1998 until 2005, following the publisher's losing all publishing rights of Valve's titles. The Windows version later went through numerous updates, notably migration from Sierra's World Opponent Network to Valve's Steamworks. The macOS and Linux were released in 2013 as part of SteamPipe update, which updates most of the developer's first-party titles.

The game enjoys a large community base with various mods still being released for the game.

General information

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


Source DRM Notes Keys OS
Disc check (requires the CD/DVD in the drive to play)
CD key
The original release of the game uses a simple disc check and key authentication.
Icon overlay.png
DRM-free with some exceptions (notes may include more details)
The "Game of the Year" edition and later patches remove the authentication and disc check. The disc is only required for the Redbook-based soundtrack.
Icon overlay.png
Icon overlay.png
Half-Life 1 Anthology, and 2005 Jewel-case.
Icon overlay.png
macOS (OS X)
All non-Steam releases can be redeemed on Steam.
Soundtrack is available for free here. FLAC files are also available if "Download high-quality audio files" is checked in Steam's music settings.


Half-Life: Uplink

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

Half-Life: Day One

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 the training level). It can be downloaded here.
Note that the demo uses an older version of GoldSrc, which may have compatibility issues with modern systems.

Version differences

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

Official retail patches

These are not needed for the Steam version as that already contains the latest version.

An archive of all official patches for Half-Life and its expansions can be found here

Peixoto's patch

Peixoto's patch forced resolution allows high resolution without shrinking the HUD\menus. Super sampling anti aliasing is also possible

Disable texture resizing for the retail version

Steam release was updated to disable texture resizing entirely.[1]

By default, the game resizes textures to the nearest power of 2. This behavior can be disabled on hardware that supports non-power-of-two textures (most modern GPUs released within the past 15 years support them) by setting gl_round_down to 0 in the configuration files.

Skip intro videos for the retail version

Steam release has no videos.
Use the -console command-line argument.[2]

Running in 24 or 32-bit colour depth (retail version)

The retail version of the game defaults to 16-bit color depth, with no option to adjust in-game.
Run game with -32bpp argument[citation needed]

Game data

Configuration file(s) location

System Location
Windows HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Valve\Half-Life\
Steam <path-to-game>/valve/
*.cfg files store the configuration.
This game does not follow the XDG Base Directory Specification on Linux.

Save game data location

System Location
Windows <path-to-game>\valve\SAVE\[Note 1]
macOS (OS X) <path-to-game>/valve/SAVE
Linux <path-to-game>/valve/SAVE/

The file names follow the pattern:

  • autosave.sav
  • half-life-000.sav
  • half-life-001.sav
  • ...

The magic number (the file signature at the beginning of the file, consisting of two or more hexadecimal values) is JSAV in ISO 8859-1 encoding (4A53 4156 in hexadecimal).

Save game cloud syncing

System Native Notes
Steam Cloud


In-game video settings (Steam version)
In-game video settings (Steam version)

Graphics feature State WSGF Notes
Widescreen resolution
Game is Vert-; see Field of view (FOV) for a workaround.
Use Half-Life WON Resolution FOV MP3 Patch for non-Steam versions
Vert-. Increase FOV to compensate. See Field of view (FOV).
4K Ultra HD
Both in-game and menu UI may become too small on displays with a high pixel density, see 4K Ultra HD for various fixes.
Field of view (FOV)
90 by default. See Field of view (FOV).
Borderless fullscreen windowed
Use -window -noborder.
Anisotropic filtering (AF)
16 samples by default in Steam version. Use gl_ansio X[sic] in the console, with X as number of samples.
See OpenGL texture filtering to disable texture filtering altogether.
Anti-aliasing (AA)
4x MSAA by default in Steam version. Use -nomsaa to force off. Enhanceable to HSAA on Nvidia systems.[Note 2]
Vertical sync (Vsync)
Always on for the retail version.
60 FPS
120+ FPS
Capped at 100 FPS (72 FPS in retail version) by default. See High frame rate.
High dynamic range display (HDR)
See OpenGL overbright lighting to increase the rendering dynamic range.
Ray tracing (RT)
For a list of console commands, see here.

4K Ultra HD

This section may require cleanup to meet basic quality standards. The specific problem is: Provide a vanilla resized HUD and crosshairs. Figure out how to increase other font sizes. You can help by modifying the article. The discussion page may contain useful suggestions.
Assets are designed for 640x480, and UI may be too small at higher resolutions.
Increase font sizes[4][5]
  1. Open <path-to-game>\platform\resource\TrackerScheme.res in a text editor.
  2. Under "Legacy_CreditsFont", change "tall" as desired to change the size of the in-game credits font, used for the opening credits, level titles, and tutorial prompts.
    Recommended settings for a similar font size to that used in 640x480 are:
    • "30" for 720p or 768p
    • "40" for 960p, 1024p, or 1080p
    • "50" for 1200p
    • "60" for 1440p
    • "70" for 1600p
    • "80" for 2160p ("4K")
    • "120" for 2880p ("5K")
    • "135" for 3240p ("6K")
    • "180" for 4320p ("8K")

Field of view (FOV)

FOV adjustment may be necessary at widescreen resolutions.
Field of view[6]
  1. In the game's launch options, add +default_fov ###, replacing ### with the desired FOV.
  2. While in game, open the console (~).
  3. Type default_fov and press Enter to confirm the changes have taken place in-game.


Weapon models are affected by changes in FOV.
To maintain identical vertical FOV to the 4:3 FOV at 16:9 resolutions, use 106. At 21:9 resolutions, use 121.

High frame rate

Use +developer 1 +fps_override 1 +fps_max ###[7]
Disabling the cap may reduce the speed at which you move objects.[7] NPC turn rate bug was fixed.[8]

OpenGL texture filtering

By default the filtering is enabled (except in Software rendering mode).
Disable OpenGL texture filtering[9]
  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.


Using the line gl_texturemode gl_nearest_mipmap_linear instead will enable mipmapping to prevent some textures from flickering at a distance, but will be blurry if not combined with anisotropic filtering.

OpenGL overbright lighting

Overbright lighting increases the rendering dynamic range, resulting brighter and more colorful visuals.
Overbright lighting normally only works on the Direct3D and software renderers.[10][11]
Nvidia GPUs: Enable the GL extension limiter[12]
  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.


Doing this will disable multi-texturing, which has the side-effect of disabling detail textures, which may effect the appearance of other games and mods that share hl1.exe, including Counter-Strike: Condition Zero and Day of Defeat.
Doing this disables the Steam version's built-in MSAA. On the Half Life profile, change Antialiasing - Mode to Override any application setting and Antialiasing - Setting to the desired level of antialiasing (such as 4x [4x Multisampling] for a vanilla look, or 32xS [Combined: 2x2 SS + 8x MS] for maximum antialiasing).
Intel/AMD GPUs: Use this GLIntercept config[13]


As this method uses a custom OpenGL32.dll, it should not be used in VAC-protected servers.
Doing this also fixes performance issues with dynamic lights on Intel graphics.
Use this Python script[14]


As this method modifies hw.dll, it should not be used in VAC-protected servers.
Does not disable OpenGL extensions.
AMD and Intel GPUs on Linux: Disable GL_ARB_multitexture extension with environment variable[15]
  1. Right click on Half-Life in your Steam library and choose Properties.
  2. Go to General tab and add MESA_EXTENSION_OVERRIDE=-GL_ARB_multitexture %command% to launch options.


For retail and older versions running through Wine, you can simply add this environment variable right before Wine command.
For example: MESA_EXTENSION_OVERRIDE=-GL_ARB_multitexture wine hl.exe +gl_overbright 1.


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)


In-game audio settings (Steam version)
In-game audio settings (Steam version)

Audio feature State Notes
Separate volume controls
Surround sound
Lost with Linux update.[16] Can be restored in retail version with DirectSound 3D restoration software (Creative Alchemy or dsoal).
Use Half-Life: Subtitles mod
Closed captions
Mute on focus lost
EAX support
A3D 2.0[17][18] and EAX were supported.
Both have been removed during the transition to SteamPipe.[19]
See MetaAudio for Steam version.
Royalty free audio
Red Book CD audio
Deprecated with MP3 playback since Current release still supports reading from CD when available.


Language UI Audio Sub Notes
subtitles mod
Simplified Chinese
Traditional Chinese
Censored (enemy soldiers replaced with robots, gore removed). An uncut DLC was released after BPjM cleared the game, but it has since gone. Players can still play in English, edit their registry, or ask the Steam Support to remove all Low-Violence tags from their GoldSource games.[20][21]
Fan translation from subtitles mod
Brazilian Portuguese
Fan translation, download.
Fan translation from subtitles mod, also available an Audio Translation created from various unofficial voice-overs
Fan translation from subtitles mod
Fan translation by TSF, download.


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 version is actively supported via Steamworks with a small but dedicated community.

Multiplayer types

Type Native Players Notes
Local play
Versus, Co-op
Use Universal Split Screen
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
Servers are hosted using a separate "hlds.exe," which can be downloaded with SteamCMD.
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.


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

3D modes Native Notes
User created game profile, (openGL) see vorpx forum profile introduction.
Note The profile also works with Half Life Opposing Force, Half Life Blueshift, Half Life Counterstrike (taken from Half Life - Generations).
Headsets Native Notes
HTC Vive
See Half-Life: VR
Oculus Rift
See Half-Life: VR.
Windows Mixed Reality
See Half-Life: VR.
Devices Native Notes
Tracked motion controllers
Supports Razer Hydra.
See Input for details.
Traditional controller
See Input for details.
Novint Falcon
The official game-specific 3D Touch Add On is required.
Play area Native Notes

Issues fixed

Run the game at screen refresh rate (retail version)

The retail version of the game defaults to 60 Hz when running with Direct3D renderer in full-screen mode.
Use the -freq <rate> command line argument[22]
Example: -freq 120 forces a 120 Hz refresh rate.

Input Lag in Direct3D (retail version)

On certain graphics cards, using the D3D renderer can result in severe input lag, even with disabled VSync.
Set gl_d3dflip 1 in the console[23]

Missing Decals in Direct3D (retail version)

Use gl_polyoffset -0.01 in the console[citation needed]

Missing Blood & Gore on Steam version

There is an issue with the current Steam release of Half-Life, put short you can end up downloading a few of the censored content from the German version regardless of your location.
Download this file to restore the lost gore[citation needed]

Fatal Error - Available memory less than 15MB

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

Windows 7/Vista Performance Fix

In Windows 7 or Vista with modern hardware, some users may experience extremely low frame rates during gameplay.
Set HL.exe to high priority[citation needed]
  1. Open Half-Life.
  2. Press Ctrl+ Shift+Esc 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

Replace the liblist.gam file[24]
  1. Make sure Half-Life is not currently running.
  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.

No music playback in the retail version

Switch from CD playback to MP3[25]
  1. Make sure you have updated Half-Life to v1.1.1.0 (see patch), adding MP3 playback support.
  2. (This action requires a Steam account and Steam platform installed to access the content)

Put the MP3 soundtrack of Half-Life Steam version (see here) into <path-to-game>/valve/media.

  1. Add ID3v1 tags to the MP3 files (see instruction here)

Black screen on startup (Steam version)

Disable FBO rendering[26]
  1. Add -nofbo in the game's launch options.

Performance issues with dynamic lights on Intel graphics (OpenGL)

Dynamic light sources being present, such as the flashlight or flickering lights, causes significant frame rate drops and lag spikes on Intel graphics.
Use this GLIntercept config[27]


As this method uses a custom OpenGL32.dll, it should not be used in VAC-protected servers.
Doing this also fixes overbright lighting.

Other information


Technical specs Supported Notes
Direct3D 7 Lost with Linux update.[16]
OpenGL 2.1 3DFX MiniGL included in retail version.
Software renderer
Executable 32-bit 64-bit Notes
macOS (OS X)


Middleware Notes
Audio Miles Sound System
Input SDL
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.[30]



Xash3D FWGS is a custom open-source Half-Life-compatible engine, made to overcome the limit of the GoldSrc engine, fixing compatibility issues for the original non-Steam versions too[31]
It also includes quality of life options fit for modern systems, including HUD scaling.


Alternative audio pipeline for GoldSrc. Re-implements 3D audio without replacing entire rendering pipeline. Combines A3D’s HRTF and Occlusion with EAX’s reverb.[32]
Not compatible with software renderer.[33]
Do not use on VAC secured server.

Higher definition models

Included in the Steam release.
The High Definition Pack replaces most weapon and player/enemy models with higher polygon versions that resemble the PS2 models. 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

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.


See Half-Life Crosshair Changer to customize the crosshairs.
HD Half-Life Crosshairs
Upscales crosshairs to make them more visible when using Full HD or 4K resolutions.
Optionally changes color of the crosshairs for Blue Shift to better match add-on aesthetics.

Enabling developer mode

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


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

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

Retail ("WON") version

Minimum Recommended
Operating system (OS) 95, 98, NT 4.0
Processor (CPU) Intel Pentium 133 MHz
System memory (RAM) 24 MB
Hard disk drive (HDD) 400 MB
Video card (GPU) SVGA, high color (16-bit) compatible display (software mode)

Steam version

Minimum Recommended
Operating system (OS) XP
Processor (CPU) 500 MHz
System memory (RAM) 96 MB
Hard disk drive (HDD) 4 GB
Video card (GPU) 16 MB of VRAM

macOS (OS X)
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 Graphics 3000
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
Other Graphic Drivers: Nvidia 310, AMD 12.11


  1. When running this game without elevated privileges (Run as administrator option), write operations against a location below %PROGRAMFILES%, %PROGRAMDATA%, or %WINDIR% might be redirected to %LOCALAPPDATA%\VirtualStore on Windows Vista and later (more details).
  2. SGSSAA is also technically possible, but a GPU driver bug results in affine textures becoming extremely blurry in OpenGL games such as this title, especially noticable when texture filtering is disabled.


  1. Half-Life update released
  2. Verified by User:Tecc on 2021-04-10
    Intro files will be skipped by using this command-line argument. (only for the retail version)
  3. "Half-Life%3A%20Ray%20Traced,visual%20effects%20with%20interactive%20framerates."
  4. Increased Fonts For HL1 addon - Half-Life - Mod DB
  5. Verified by User:SirYodaJedi on 2020-03-04
    Figured out more vanilla-esque settings
  6. Is there anyway to change the default F.O.V.? :: Half Life General Discussions
  7. 7.0 7.1 How to get 144hz/fps?
  8. Steam Community :: Half-Life :: Events
  9. How to remove texture filtering in OpenGL
  10. VOGONS • View topic - Half-Life overbright compatibility
  11. gl_overbright & OpenGL · Issue #230 · ValveSoftware/halflife
  12. Half-Life with OpenAL (EFX, Surround Sound, and HRTF!) : HalfLife
  13. [citation needed]
  14. [citation needed]
  15. [citation needed]
  16. 16.0 16.1 Steam HL1 5.1 sound - Steam discussions forums.
  17. Tech help: Half-Life - Vortex of Sound (retrieved)
  18. Half Life Aureal A3D Fix - Aureal A3D Central
  19. Half-Life 1 updated.
  20. Half-Life goes uncensored in Germany, two decades after original release - Polygon
  21. German version uncensored now? :: Steam Community Discussions
  22. Command Line Options - Valve Developer Community
  23. [1]
  24. "IF you are Missing Voice and Multiplayer Tabs under Options" Steam Users' Forum Thread (retrieved)
  25. Half-Life WON (CD) does not have music :: Half-Life General Discussions
  27. [citation needed]
  28. Verified by User:Vetle on 2016-10-22
  29. 29.0 29.1 Verified by User:Faalagorn on 2019-11-09
  30. WON2 Server Network
  32. Half-Life w/ EAX and 3D spatial sound in MetaAudio (OpenAL Soft HRTF) - YouTube
  33. Half-Life - 3D spatial sound comparison: Stereo, CMSS-3D, DSOAL, MetaAudio HRTF - YouTube