Yesterday, Valve unveiled a new compatibility ratings system for Steam Deck, intended to give users a clear indication of how well specific Steam games will run on the upcoming portable gaming PC. And now, a new beta update for Half-Life 2 has been discovered, seemingly released to ensure the seminal FPS meets the requirements needed to earn Steam Deck's top-tier Verified compatibility badge.
Half-Life 2's new beta branch update, as detailed by Valve watcher Tyler McVicker on his YouTube channel, reportedly covers a surprising amount of ground, not only making adjustments to the way the UI and resolution are handled in-game - primarily to ensure the FPS classic fits Steam Deck's aspect ratio and remains legible at its relatively diminutive size - but addressing some long-standing bugs as well.
Details on the latter are limited, but McVicker does highlight a few of the beta update's new UI and resolution scaling features. Perhaps most pertinent to Steam Deck, Half-Life 2's HUD is now unlocked and can scale "perfectly" to whatever aspect ratio it's being played on. Additionally, there's ultra-wide support, plus an FOV increase up to 110.
McVicker also observes that Valve has added support for the Vulkan rendering API, helping Half-Life 2 play nicely with Steam Deck's Linux-based SteamOS operating system. And given that Portal 2 similarly received Vulkan support earlier this year, it seems reasonable to assume Valve is aiming get the bulk of its back catalogue stamped with a Steam Deck Verified badge where feasible ahead of the machine's December launch.
You can read more about Valve's Steam Deck compatibility ratings - which will see every game on Steam categorised as either Verified, Playable, Unsupported, or Unknown - elsewhere.