Yesterday I realized that I’m never playing the original Half-Life again.
It’s one of my favorite single-player games of all time, and I have hundreds of hours in in from various playthroughs. It was the first game I ever tried to mod (to varying degrees of success, though none of my attempts were ever released to the internet) and its artstyle and gameplay will forever hold a special place in my heart. But I just installed Sven Coop and discovered that it contains the original Half-Life playable in multiplayer! Completely for free, you can go enjoy Half-Life 1 right now!
Apparently Sven Coop joined Steam as a standalone free-to-play download in January 2016, after a long and healthy lifetime as a Half-Life mod since 1999. It’s basic gameplay is pretty much “multiplayer Half-Life“; you and everyone on the server can play through the original game together, or take on Blue Shift, Opposing Force, or hundreds of fanmade standalone campaigns. The basic gameplay is identical to the fanmade Escape game mode from Team Fortress Classic, with a few changes that make Sven Coop a bit more versatile. For one, since Sven Coop is using Gordon Freeman as a base instead of the TFC Civilian, meaning everybody has 100 hp and 100 armor instead of just 50hp, so everybody is a bit less squishy. This is compounded by everybody carrying a medkit that lets you regenerate teammate’s health (or revive a dead teammate assuming their body wasn’t exploded) and the inclusion of Half-Life and Opposing Force weapons, meaning you can pull off mad strats with the Barnacle grappling hook or careen through the air with the Tau Cannon. They even added a sniper rifle and an electrically-charged alt-fire to the crowbar.
Speaking of Opposing Force and Blue Shift, I mentioned before that you can play them in Sven-Coop, but you can only host them if you own the originals on Steam. It also comes with the complete campaigns to They Hunger and Afraid of Monsters, and while I haven’t played the latter, They Hunger is one of my favorite horror games on Steam and I consider it equally as good as Half-Life. There’s a reason it has appeared in several of my articles providing examples of good game design.
Due to the sheer volume of content, not to mention the many upgrades Sven Coop adds to the classic Half-Life formula, I think this is a game everybody should play at least once. Veterans of Half-Life can experience the game (and its spinoffs) with multiplayer features that cast the game in an entirely new light, and those who’ve never played it can experience one of the best FPSes ever made with the novelty of multiplayer making every playthrough different. I’ve never enjoyed Half-Life as much as I did playing through it with 4-6 random people on the internet, using voice chat to solve puzzles and healing each other after shootouts. As a free game on Steam, Sven Coop is a diamond in the rough that more people need to know exists.