It's been well over a decade since the release of Half-Life 2: Episode 2, and with Half-Life: Alyx - the enormously long-awaited next instalment in Valve's seminal FPS series - mere months away, there are likely more than a few people in need of a story refresher. Luckily, Valve's on the case, and is making all previous series entries free on Steam for a limited time.
Although Half-Life: Alyx unfolds prior to the events of Half-Life 2, many characters and story elements, as Valve explains in a new Steam post, are shared. As such, "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."
To that end, all Steam users will be able to download and play Half-Life, Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episode 1, and Half-Life 2: Episode 2 for free until Half-Life Alyx launches some time in March. That's not quite everything, however; Valve is also including original Half-Life expansion packs Opposing Force and Blue Shift (both created by Borderlands studio Gearbox back in the day), plus Team Fortress Classic for those hankering for a bit of multiplayer nostalgia.
Sadly the wonderful (and definitely-in-the-Half-Life-universe) Portal and Portal 2 aren't included, but you can't have everything, eh?
Half-Life: Alyx might not have an exact release date just yet, but there's really not all that long until March rolls around. As such, those eager to revisit City 17 and brush up on their hazily-remembered Half-Life lore - or even those looking to embark on the adventures of Gordon Freeman for the very first time - might want to get stuck in sooner rather than later.