Half-Life is one of the best-regarded game series of all time, which is quite a feat considering that it remains unfinished to this day.
If you want to jump in and see what all the fuss is about, you do need to have a fair idea of the order in which you need to play the games.
Fortunately, the game order for this series is fairly straightforward.
Let’s see below the best order to play (in my opinion) the Half Life game series.
1) Half Life 1 (original version)
If you’re going to play the Half-Life games, it makes sense to start at the beginning.
The original story of Doctor Gordon Freeman, Black Mesa, and Xen was a very revolutionary tale in the world of gaming, both because of how it was presented to players and because of the mechanics used.
If you really want to understand the story of Half-Life, everything you really need to know is here.
With that said, playing Half-Life can be a little rough for those used to modern shooters.
Though Black Mesa is an excellent recreation of the game, the truth is that you do need to sit down and play the original – warts and all.
This is the best way to get a feel for what the series is supposed to be like.
2) Half Life: Opposing Force
The next step in the Half-Life story is Half-Life: Opposing Force. This game takes place at the same time as the original Half-Life game and puts players in the role of one of the enemy characters from the first game.
This small twist on the plot actually reveals much more about what was going on in the Black Mesa incident and gives players a chance to see things from a perspective that Freeman missed.
Opposing Force does often feel like a little more of the same for those who have played through the original game, but there are some great reasons to play.
The first is getting a bit more of the G-Man and how he operates. The other, of course, is getting a bit more of the classic Half-Life experience without having to go to Xen.
3) Half Life: Blue Shift
Next up is Half-Life: Blue Shift, another spin-off to the original Half-Life.
This one puts players in the shoe of series-favorite NPC Barney Calhoun the Security Guard, once again taking place at the same time as the original game and giving players a taste of what all the other NPCs were doing while Freeman was attempting to fight off an alien invasion.
Through Barney’s story, it becomes very clear that everyone else on the base was just trying to survive.
The biggest thing to recommend Blue Shift is the fact that it updates some of the visuals from the original game.
This is a great way to view the original Black Mesa facility without having to go all the way back to the first game and a good way to get an idea of what the game would have looked like had it been made a few years later.
Blue Shift is also fairly short, giving players a nice, brief experience before they move onto the next game.
4) Half Life 2
The next stop on the big tour of Half-Life games is Half-Life 2. The original Source engine game, Half-Life 2 was a huge step forward for shooters upon its release.
With an excellent physics system that allows the players to interact with objects in the game world and a compelling narrative, there is a reason that this is usually cited as the best game in the series.
Half-Life 2 once again puts players in the shoes of Gordon Freeman, now returned to Earth after being pulled out of time by the G-Man.
Freeman now faces off against the forces of the Combine, an alien empire that has conquered Earth, as he finds himself at the head of a revolution.
This game introduces a host of new characters and the all-important Gravity Gun, paving the way for the next few entries in the series.
5) Half Life 2: Episode One
Half-Life 2: Episode One was the first of the planned episodic entries in the Half-Life series, picking up where Half-Life 2 left off and continuing the story.
Episode One sees Freeman and Alyx as they deal with the fallout of the previous game, giving players a better look at the goals of the Combine and setting up a new threat.
The only downside of playing Episode One is the game’s relatively short length. It’s clearly meant to be a bite-sized piece of story that keeps the players hungering for more Half-Life, and it does do that quite well.
Those who are willing to engage with the story on its own will find themselves enjoying Episode One quite a bit, though.
6) Half Life 2: Episode Two
Naturally, the follow up to Episode One is Episode Two. Picking up right after the first episode, this is the last chronological entry in the Half-Life series.
Players once again take on the role of Gordon Freeman as he attempts to stop Combine reinforcements from coming to Earth in order to crush the resistance.
Unfortunately, this is where the timeline of Half-Life ends. There are many loose ends dangling at the end of this story, which even pulls in elements from Portal.
This is truly a fun game to play, but it’s hard not to be frustrated knowing that the story never gets resolved.
7) Half-Life: Alyx
Half-Life: Alyx is a VR game made by Valve that takes place prior to Half-Life 2. While all of the other games listed here are in chronological order, you really should play Alyx last.
Not only is the game incredibly different from a mechanical standpoint, but the biggest plot twists only hit if you’ve played the rest of the game.
Alyx is a good way to dip your toes back into the Half-Life universe if you’ve been away since Episode 2.
Though the VR nature of the game means you don’t get the same experience as in the old games, this one is still very much worth checking out.