Half-Life 2 has seen a few small, minor updates over the years. But in advance of Valve's new handheld PC (opens in new tab), the company has spruced up their seminal shooter with a major beta update to ensure it looks as smooth as possible on not just the Steam Deck, but all other contemporary PCs.
While not publically announced on the game's store page, the update to Half-Life 2's beta branch was spotted by Valve-centric YouTuber Tyler McVicker. The update supposedly includes numerous bug-fixes that have sat unresolved for years, increases the FOV cap to 110, and adjusts the UI to support ultrawide resolutions.
Perhaps the most notable (if less flashy) additions, however, is support for the Vulkan rendering API, which pointedly plays much nicer with Linux-based operating systems like SteamOS. Valve brought Vulkan support to Portal 2 (opens in new tab) back in February, and with the Half-Life 2 games now on-board, McVicker now reckons we can expect most of Valve's back-catalogue to be updated to work well on the Steam Deck.
Compatibility has been a major concern both for customers and Steam itself, with Valve recently beginning efforts to catalogue the entire platform for compatibility (opens in new tab). While most games won't run on Linux, Valve has been working to ensure its Proton compatibility layer supports as many Windows games as possible (opens in new tab). An early issue saw games with Easy Anti-Cheat struggle to run with Proton, an issue that was remedied with an update last month (opens in new tab).
Half-Life 2's beta update isn't quite ready to go live. McVicker notes that there's a micro-stuttering issue with the current build, though you can download it yourself by selecting the Beta tab under Half-Life 2's properties in your Steam library. Hopefully, the landmark FPS will make for a great showpiece by the time Steam Decks start shipping in December.