All of the Half-Life video game franchise is currently free to play on PC via Steam. That's not some sort of typo or mistake, either. Valve has announced that Half-Life and Half-Life 2 -- which constitutes the entire series at this point -- are free to play on its digital platform until the launch of Half-Life: Alyx, the upcoming VR entry in the franchise that's set to release in March. Exactly how long that might be seems nebulous right now as there's no definitive release date for Alyx announced.
As for why the games are free to play for now, including both episodes that extend the story of Half-Life 2, Valve's reasoning is that it should allow folks to get prepared to play Half-Life: Alyx, should they want. That's assuming they haven't already picked the games up on deep discount during one of Steam's many sales.
"Half-Life: Alyx is set before the events of Half-Life 2 and the episodes, but the games share characters and story elements," Valve states in the announcement of the free-to-play shift. "The Half-Life: Alyx team believes that the best way to enjoy the new game is to play through the old ones, especially Half-Life 2 and the episodes, so we want to make that as easy as possible."
What do you think about what we've seen of Half-Life: Alyx so far? Are you interested in playing through the franchise before the new game releases? Let us know in the comments, or hit me up directly on Twitter at @rollinbishop to talk all things gaming!
Here's how Valve describes Half-Life: Alyx on its official website:
"Set between the events of Half-Life and Half-Life 2, Alyx Vance and her father Eli mount an early resistance to the Combine's brutal occupation of Earth.
"The loss of the Seven-Hour War is still fresh. In the shadow of a rising Combine fortress known as the Citadel, residents of City 17 learn to live under the rule of their invaders. But among this scattered population are two of Earth's most resourceful scientists: Dr. Eli Vance and his daughter Alyx, the founders of a fledgling resistance."
Half-Life: Alyx is set to release for PC via compatible VR headsets in March 2020. You can check out all of our previous coverage of the first new installment in the Half-Life franchise in years right here.