A Post-Mortem Analysis of Half-Life 2: Deathmatch

Jan 13, 2013 No Comments by

Like a forgotten half-brother, Half-Life 2: Deathmatch stood in the shadow of the single-player series since it came out. Despite attempts to bring more players into the game, as of now, the community has been reduced to a few heavily modded servers. It’s time to crack open the body, let the flies spiral away, and perform an autopsy.

For what it was, HL2:DM was a surprisingly good arena shooter. It offered a unique pace while still maintaining the feel that the single-player games had built. Among all things traditionally Half-Life, the gravity gun was a huge attraction – being able to weaponize your surroundings is something uniquely satisfying. So, what happened?

The Half-Life series rose to fame for a wide array of reasons, but almost all of them center around the quality of the single-player campaign. Many of the things people love about Half-Life, such as the characters and storytelling, are irrelevant to a deathmatch game. That’s not to say that the mechanics are bad at all – it just wasn’t the priority of the game.

Despite this, the game had potential as something special in and of itself. It received decidedly positive reviews, and had a vibrant initial community. As time went by, however, it began to stagnate. It received one content update, which added two melee weapons and a map. Every other update before and since has been optimizations and bugfixes. In place of content, Valve made it more and more widely available. It became a part of packs, being bundled with much more successful games like Garry’s Mod and Counter-Strike. Valve even made it free to owners of NVidia and ATI graphics card owners, which was the equivalent to making it free to everyone. Even then, as new players came in, it was never enough to replace new content.

Now, the only servers still playing HL2:DM are heavily modified, either running gravity gun-only in low gravity, or playing in simplified killbox maps with custom sounds and models so exotic as to be unrecognizable. And still, these servers are few and far between. It’s rather tragic; Half-Life 2: Deathmatch had a fantastic amount of potential. If you’re interested in a digital ghost town, you can pick it up for under $5 on Steam. It’s worth paying your respects.


About the author

Amateur games journalist looking to expand his portfolio. When I'm not writing for Super Combo, I'm editing articles for others or goofing around in Dota 2. If you enjoyed the article, let me know! I always appreciate feedback. You can learn more about me at WillUhl.com.
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