Steam Deck Prompts Biggest Half-Life 2 Update In Years With These New Features

Steam deck relaxed
When Valve's follow-up to the genre-defining Half-Life was released back in November of 2004, gamers were floored by the game's immersive story and visuals. Fast forward 17 years and Half-Life 2 is still one of the most beloved first person shooters of all time and it looks like the legendary favorite it getting some modern updates.  Valve is currently preparing for the upcoming launch of the Valve Steam Deck. And because of that, Half-Life 2's user interface is being revamped.

UI scaling wasn't an issue back when Half-Life 2 was developed. The highest resolutions most gamers of the time would most likely use was 1280x1024, with the rare exception being ultra enthusiast gamers running at 1600x1200. Because of these limited resolutions, considerations weren't made to the UI to handle the much higher, wider aspect resolutions we use today. As such, if you want to play the game at a super high resolution, the HUD and some other elements are often difficult or nearly impossible to see, because they're rendered unbelievably small.

half life 2 update
Half-Life 2 3440x1440 with proper UI

With the upcoming Steam Deck, games that pass the compatibility checker will need to fully support the widescreen aspect and HD resolution of the device's screen. Up until now Half-Life 2 would have failed. That is no longer the case, however, as shown in the image above. Post update, the UI is now properly displayed at the correct size and it is no longer stretched, which makes the game look much better, even on an Ultrawide 3440x1440 panel.

UI fixes aren't the only thing coming with the update. Half-Life 2 was released on DirectX 9, but also supported DirectX 7 to maintain broad compatibility at the time. Valve has now updated the game to use the Vulkan API, which will allow it to run natively on the Stream Deck's custom Linux OS.