With the Steam Deck on the horizon, Valve is revisiting its game catalogue with a view to ensuring all its games are fully compatible with the new handheld device. As a part of this work, Half-Life 2 just got an awesome QoL update that brings a number of bug fixes (some of which are decades old) as well as bringing support for increased fields of view, Vulkan API support and, amazingly for me, ultrawide monitor support.
It's the first major update the game has had in many years. Valve still issue occasional minor patches for the game, but this update adds some really useful new changes. It slipped under the radar too, with Valve opting not to announce the update anywhere on the game's official Steam page. Instead, the new update was noted by YouTuber Tyler McVicker, who spotted that the update was now available on the beta tab in the game's properties.
Specifically, the FOV cap has now been raised to 110, and the UI has now been properly adjusted to support unusual resolutions, including ultrawide. The addition of the Vulkan API is also very much welcome, even on an old game like this, as it will ensure a much smoother experience n Linux-based operating systems, such as the Steam Deck's native SteamOS.
It seems reasonable to expect similar changes to all of Valve's back catalogue, which will certainly be nice to see. Portal 2 already has a number of these features, but it's great to see that the older games will also now get the same parity.
As mentioned, the update is currently only in beta, so to try it out you'll need to right-click on the game and click properties, then head to the beta tab and change branch. Note though that currently there's a micro-stuttering issue with the current build, so try at your own risk.