A new Half-Life 2 mod unlocks dozens of official but never-used levels from the 2003 beta version of Valve’s iconic, Steam FPS, demonstrating how the Half-Life sequel may have looked in its original incarnation – and offering further insight into the world of Gordon Freeman as we all wait on Half-Life 3.
Half-Life 2: 2003 Storyline Port takes all the maps and environments that were present in the beta version of Half-Life 2, alongside some additional weapons, enemies, and assets, and makes them playable as a mod for the Steam edition of Half-Life 2.
“This project aims at preservation and accessibility,” says creator Cvoxalury. “It does not remaster or overhaul the levels, and it doesn’t place cut content that wasn’t in them already. All the levels keep their old texturing and placeholders, showing the immense gap in quality that Half-Life 2 had to cross to become a masterpiece. Treat it more like a museum emulation of playing the beta for the first time, but better.”
There are 50 maps in the 2003 Half-Life 2 beta, all captured in the original form as part of this mod. You will also find a couple of additional enemies, like the bullsquid from the first Half-Life, which was due to return in the sequel, and some new (or should that be old?) guns like a chunky assault rifle with a scope.
The mod builds on a previous project, September 2003 Storyline Map Pack, by modders XJR900, Vitoy, and Maelstrom, by packaging all the beta levels into a single file that is stable to run and use. “This is the mod for everyone who wants to check out the seldom talked about 2003 levels without having the experience ruined by all the unpredictable beta jank,” Cvoxulary explains on the project’s page on Mod DB.
If you’re looking at all this glorious Source Engine history and wondering if we’ll ever see Gordon Freeman again, you might want to delve in and find out whatever happened to Half-Life 3. We also have guides to the best old games on PC, as well as the best PC games overall.