Valve is one of those companies that almost everybody in the gaming world has heard of. Founded back in 1996 by Gabe Newell and Mike Harrington, they have a long history of creating engaging games that push the boundaries of technology.
Valve are also behind the digital distribution service, Steam. Launched in 2003, Steam has quickly become the go-to platform for purchasing PC games. Players can easily purchase games, find the best deals, leave reviews, and keep their gaming collection all in one place.
With so many Valve games to choose from, we thought it would be a great idea to take a look at five of our favorite titles. This could have easily been a way larger list, but we’ll make sure to touch on some honorable mentions nearer the end.
Release Date: November 16, 2004
Platforms: Windows, Xbox, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Mac OS X, Linux, Android
Including a Half-Life game on this list was an easy choice, picking which Half-Life game to cover took longer than we thought… Although the original Half-Life kicked the franchise into the fame it enjoys today, Half-Life 2 was so groundbreaking at the time of its release and is still many people’s favorite game to this day.
The hype surrounding Half-Life was so large, fans speculated for the next 16 years whether or not we’d ever see a third installment. The engaging mechanics, interesting story, and detailed environments were among the best we’d seen upon release.
Players take control of Gordon Freeman as he ventures across an alien-infested Earth. With the situation looking worse by the minute, players must find a way to undo the damage unleashed back at Black Mesa.
The Half-Life franchise is famous for its physics-based puzzles and there are lots to work through here. Nothing is too difficult that you’ll be stuck for hours, but they help keep gameplay interesting. The jump to a new physics engine worked wonders for the game and many of the animations and characters still look great today.
Release Date: March 23, 2020
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Linux
While fans of the Half-Life franchise didn’t ever get the third installment they were waiting for, a shock announcement of a new Half-Life game for VR made headlines worldwide. Unfortunately for some, this title is only available to play in VR, but the advances it made in the genre quickly led to it being hailed as one of the best VR games of all time.
Half-Life: Alyx is set between the events of Half-Life and Half-Life 2 and follows Alyx Vance on her adventures. With the Combine having control of Earth after the events of Black Mesa, Alyx is seen as humanity’s last hope of survival. Alyx is part of a resistance movement which aims to research and build tools for humanity’s survival.
The virtual reality experience is handled masterfully in Half-Life: Alyx and the environment design is excellent. It’s easy to quickly become immersed during gameplay and the puzzle sections in the game are perfect in VR. You’ll have to physically rummage through drawers for materials, lean around cover to shoot, and even use random items you find as distractions if you get cornered.
While it does have a high price point to jump into if you don’t already have a virtual reality headset, if you’re already set up, Half-Life: Alyx is a must-buy.
Release Date: April 19, 2011
Platforms: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Following on from the success that the first Portal game had, Portal 2 improved on the first title in almost every way. The story was just as good, the puzzles were even more detailed and tricky and there was even a co-op mode that felt just as long as the single-player campaign.
Taking a break from the clean, laboratory setting seen in the first game, Portal 2 takes place in larger, overgrown environments. The new gel mechanic gave puzzles an extra layer of complexity with players now able to use this gel to bounce to new heights or gain some extra speed on surfaces.
GLaDOS makes a return in Portal 2 and has a whole new script of witty and enjoyable lines for the player. We won’t spoil too much of the story here, but it is longer and more in-depth than the first game. Another character you’ll meet is Wheatley, voiced by Stephen Merchant. Wheatley acts as the player’s companion throughout the game, guiding Chell through various puzzles on her journey.
In the co-op mode, players can take control of Atlas and P-body as they make their way through various tests. Adding four portals to the mix is a great way to increase the complexity of the puzzles and this game mode is a perfect way to test a friendship.
Release Date: August 21, 2012
Platforms: Windows, OS X, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Linux
Another one of Valve’s oldest franchises to make our list today is Counter-Strike. Originally released back in 2000, Counter-Strike has evolved over the years until its most recent rendition, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
CS:GO has been one of the most popular competitive shooters on the market for a long time, with countless tournaments held and a huge esports scene to follow. After going free-to-play back in late 2018, CS:GO has attracted even more players.
The main mode in the game follows a fairly simple mechanic. Players will play the role of either a Terrorist or Counter-Terrorist, the main aim of the Terrorists is to plant a bomb on a designated bomb-site that the Counter-Terrorists protect. All the action takes place on various maps such as Vertigo, Mirage, Inferno, and the famous Dust II.
These maps are carefully balanced and allow multiple viable strategies during gameplay. Between rounds, players are able to buy different weapons that they lose upon death. Each of these weapons has different characteristics including spray patterns and recoil amounts which adds another layer of complexity to the gameplay.
Release Date: July 9, 2013
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Linux, OS X
Taking up our final slot is another free-to-play Valve game that has a massive fan-base. Regularly taking up the spot as the most played game on Steam, Dota 2 has a large community of players that enjoy its deep, complex gameplay.
Dota 2 is a MOBA game similar to what you’d see in League of Legends or Heroes of the Storm. Players can choose one of 119 currently playable heroes, each with their own abilities and different playstyles. Two teams of five players battle over control of a map, each with the sole objective of destroying the other team’s Ancient.
Players also gain gold during matches and can use this to buy certain items from the shop. These can help the player go for a different build or play style depending on how the match is progressing. which makes each match feel unique.
There is also a huge esports scene within the Dota 2 community with regular events held worldwide. These events are hotly contested and have had prize funds of up to $30 million. Even those who aren’t massive fans of Dota 2 can enjoy tuning in to see the high-level plays that some of the professional gamers can make.
That brings us to the end of our list for today. We know that there are some very obvious titles missing from this list that could have easily been included. Games such as Half-Life, Team Fortress, Left 4 Dead, Day of Defeat, and Garry’s Mod are other great examples of what Valve has achieved.
Did you enjoy our list today? What would make the top of your list? Let us know down in the comments section below. To keep up with all the latest news, be sure to follow us over on Twitter.