Since its debut in 1998, the Half-Life franchise has remained one of the most critically acclaimed in all of gaming. With Half Life: Alyx providing a massive leap for virtual reality tech in 2020, it's got people talking about the series again.
Which title in the franchise is the most seminal? What did they do for the gaming industry at the time? Which ones - if any - have aged, and what sits at the top of the pile?
For this list, we're looking at ALL official releases - spin-off or otherwise - that have populated the franchise's two decade-long history. That crosses off the likes of the unofficial Hunt Down The Freeman and Project Borealis, fan projects that don't pertain to the official line-up. We'd keep our eyes open a future article exploring these third-party efforts.
While a small handful of developers have worked on Half-Life through the years, not a single one of the twelve games is objectively bad. But some have done more to push the industry forward than others.
From tech demos to multiplayer modes, all the way through to mainline entries, let's rank the entire Half-Life series.
10. Half-Life: Decay
First up at number is Half-Life: Decay, the only title in the series to feature any sort of cooperative multiplayer. As the last of the Half-Life expansion packs developed by Gearbox Software, Decay arrived belatedly in 2001 as part of the PlayStation 2 port of the original game.
Ideally, it aimed to take advantage of split-screen multiplayer on a console, but ended up falling short. You play as the lesser known scientists Colette Green and Gina Cross as they carve their own path through the Black Mesa research facility, having some minor influence on Gordon Freeman's escapades.
Half-Life: Decay isn't all that memorable and certainly pales in comparison to both the 1998 classic and other expansions. The first person action isn't nearly as engaging and the weak story is further diluted with two players messing around in the levels. It's one saving grace is the cooperative play, something that lends the game its own unique moments, even if it doesn't fit the franchise as a whole.
One thing Decay can be credited for however, is providing a base concept for future efforts. Valve would return to cooperative modes with a more puzzle focused formula ten years later with Portal 2