If there’s one company that comes to mind when we think of epic FPS games that test both your grey cells and your trigger finger, it’s Valve. They’ve won more awards than we can count and know how to make us keep coming back for more, but which are the best Valve games in their back catalogue?
From sprawling zombie slayers to one of the most mind-melting and inventive games around, Valve have made their mark on the world of gaming by continually pushing boundaries and surprising us at every turn.
Plus, many of the games below are free to play on Steam too!
Speaking of steam, I’m going to stop blowing out hot air and get right into this article. Let’s kick off with Number 15 and see which title took the top spot!
15. Speedball 2 Tournament (2007)
Speedball 2 Tournament kicks off our list of the best Valve games of all time, a title that was distributed by Valve alongside Kylotonn for Steam back in 2007.
So Valve didn’t actually publish this one, but they were instrumental in it’s fantastic success.
Though in all honesty, a futuristic game with both humans and droids competing against each other was always going to be a winner, right?
One of the most exciting things about Speedball 2 Tournament is the character customisation aspects. Getting into the nitty gritty of your character’s look always helps you become more invested in a game.
And when that game is basically space-age football, then it makes the competition even more exciting.
That’s soccer for any American readers. In fact, this feels a lot like Mario Football series, or if Fifa fused with Rocket League, which is a pairing that would have most people drooling!
14. Alien Swarm (2010)
Alien Swarm looks amazing, and it’s hard to believe that it’s 100% free to play.
Man, we love Valve!
This Valve release was actually created by modders who joined Valve after showing their skills on other projects. How cool is that!
The main concept, as you might have gathered from the title, is an Alien hunting massacre. Up to 4 players can join in on the action together, racking up achievements while using an arsenal of weapons that would make Arnie smile from now until Christmas.
If you’re looking for a title that requires a little thinking paired with a lot of extra-terrestrial-squashing, then look no further!
Well… do look further – I’ve worked hard on this list!
13. Dota 2 (2013)
Dota 2 takes the 13th spot in this list of the best Valve games, another free title that’s one of the most popular and most played games on Steam.
I mean, if that’s not a reason for it to be in this list, then I don’t know what is!
I’ve never known a game be full of so many twists and turns even after countless hours of gameplay. You can start to feel like you’re finally getting the hang of the game and then it evolves into something new entirely, keeping you on your toes every time you turn it on.
Individuality is key here; Dota 2 doesn’t confine you or make you conform to a certain style of play. You can pick any hero and dive into the gameplay in any way you see fit.
Like Fortnite, you’ll go up against players from all over the world. Dota 2 matches you to players of a similar ability though, so there’s no need to panic about being defeated in the first 20 seconds or less when you start to go up against other competitors.
12. Beat Saber (2018)
Beat Saber is VR brilliance at its best. Imagine if you were a Jedi using your lightsaber in a Guitar Hero-esque game during down time in the Clone Wars.
That’s Beat Saber in a nutshell!
Hit blocks the same colour as your sabers as they fly towards you in virtual reality. It’s so simple to grasp that anyone could have a go, but mastering it is another story entirely.
I’ve played against some people from all over the world who are absolute wizards at this game. Seriously, they must practice all day and look like Aria’s sword master from the first season of Game of Thrones when they play!
11. Day Of Defeat (2003)
Day Of Defeat takes the 11th spot in this list of the best Valve games of all time!
We all know Valve make great shooting titles, and this immersive WWII online shooter is no exception. It’s a tour de force of tense action gameplay and a title that makes you perch right on the edge of your seat while screaming at your teammates.
Though to be fair I also do that while playing Mario Kart team battles, so maybe I just need some therapy.
What started as a Half-Life mod soon became a full title in its own right back in 2003 and can be purchased from second-hand sites and stores for an eye-watering price these days.
Day of Defeat doesn’t have a single player mode, focusing solely on multiplayer action. You’ll have to work together with friends and comrades in order to get ahead, with skirmishes often happening in tight areas just to maximise your panic levels.
10. Aperture Desk Job (2022)
Fora free-to-play instructive game designed to help players understand how to the use the Steam Deck, Aperture Desk Job is very inventive and, dare we say it, addictive.
So it’s not the longest game in the world, but Animal farm isn’t the longest book in the world and that made massive waves in the literary world, so cut it some slack.
ADJ isn’t going to win gameplay of the year award, but it’s seriously imaginative. It’s part of the Portal universe, a game that you will most definitely be seeing later on in this article. Take gameplay from behind a desk to a pitch of a bullet-firing turret made from a toilet.
It’s mad if not downright bizarre, but that’s just how we love our games.
9. Gunman Chronicles (2000)
Speaking of bullets, Gunman Chronicles takes the 9th spot in our list of the best Valve games of all time!
Back when Half-Life mods were all the rage and expos were held to show off people’s work, GC caught Valve’s eye and eventually became it’s own game in 2000.
A space western that isn’t rubbish like Will Smith’s Wild Wild West; who would’ve thought it!
G.C is another FPS game, In many ways, the game feels like Half-Life in both explorative and combat elements.
Though it is a Half-Life mod, after all, so that’s to be expected.
The best part of this game is having the ability to mess around with customising your weaponry. Turn a pistol into a machine gun with a few tweaks; it’s Valve customisation at its best!
Add in tank driving levels, and you’ve got yourself one heck of a title!
8. Portal 2 (2011)
Portal 2 still remains one of the most mind-bending puzzle titles I’ve ever played. It’s got a feeling of Lode Runner meets Half-Life and Metroid Prime, with a few meltdowns thrown in for good measure.
The aim, as you will no doubt know from the front cover, is to make portals to both enter and progress through, though it’s a lot tougher than that!
To hit a certain button, multiple portals must be made to direct the laser to the target. The same goes for accessing a really high platform by falling down through the floor under your feet and coming landing above you on another level.
My head hurt just writing that!
Fans of Stephen Merchant will love his cameo as the voice of the little robot that accompanies you in this game, providing witty relief to an interesting game that doesn’t half tire you out!
7. Half Life (1998)
Half-Life, the winner of out best 90s PC games list, takes 7th place in todays compendium.
Back in 1998, this game was revolutionary. Heck, everyone had a copy of this game, and I’m pretty sure my neighbour Adam actually went out and bough a PC just so he could start playing this game!
I know shooting games are ten-a-penny these days, but back in the late 90s, Half-Life was the one to rule them all. It excelled in both tense gameplay and a storyline that left you feeling like you were living the events of a horror novel.
That’s a lot to take in while sitting on a rubbish plastic computer chair and spilling crisps onto your keyboard, isn’t it!
Gamers take Gordon Freeman on a mission to basically work out what the heck Aliens are doing inside of the research facility where he works.
And, more importantly, how to stop them from killing everything in sight!
I think the reason that Half-Life won so many awards for ‘Game of the Year’ back in the 90s was due to the fact that it’s way more than just a run and fire game. It requires brain power for puzzle solving and the tasks really test your wits too.
And as Valve’s first project, we should have known that we’d be seeing great things from them in the years to come!
6. Half Life: Alyx (2020)
Half Life: Alyx is up next, and it’s exciting news for anyone who loves the Half-Life series as much as the Retro Dodo team!
If you loved the first two Half-Life games, then this story set slap bang in the middle will leave you feeling like your birthday has come early. Especially when I tell you that it’s a fully immersive VR experience!
The same combat and brain-teasing puzzle elements that made the first two games so addictive return once more, but in VR.
Half-Life was made for virtual reality; throwing yourself into this world as Alyx Vance feels remarkable yet also so familiar too.
Make new levels in that true Half-Life modding spirit and experience the perils and stresses of this series in a whole new light.
Sleep might never be the same for you after this!
5. Portal (2007)
Portal, the puzzle game to end all puzzlers, takes the 5th spot in our best Valve games of all time list!
The Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device, something that might have come from your very same desk in Aperture Desk Job, allowed players to experience inter-spatial portals for the very first time.
I knew I should have paid more attention in physics classes.
Portal 2 is undoubtedly bigger and has more of a storyline, but experiencing this concept for the first time is something you just never forget.
Ok, the first title in the series isn’t always the best, but this revolutionary puzzler was so original and inventive that the only thing the sequel could hope to do was expand on its success while capitalising on such an amazing gameplay mechanic.
And you win cake in it too, probably should have mentioned that!
4. Left 4 Dead (2008)
Left 4 Dead is one of the best Valve games for giving you terrible nightmares, a title for the gamers out there that feel like they’re getting a little too much sleep.
When it was announced that the minds behind Counter Strike and Half-Life were making a co-op zombie killing horrorfest, the world went crazy. The game feels very filmic from the get-go with some of the most eerie settings we’ve come across.
Oh, and more zombies than you can shake a frying pan at, which is something you’ll be doing a lot of.
Playing with friends as either humans trying to survive or a zombie boss trying to thrive never gets old.
Yes, you read that right – you can play as a zombie trying to eat people. How cool is that!
With 20 maps to play through, cleverly thought out levels that create infinite chances for you to be be bitten at a moments notice, and the need to work with your friends to progress, Left for Dead is a Zombie game like no other… except a title you’re about to see at Number 2 in our list!
3. Counter Strike: Global Offensive (2012)
Counter Strike: Global Offensive sees terrorist and counter-terrorist groups going up against each other in one of the most widely played Steam games of all time.
Can you believe that Counter Strike launched a whopping 19 years ago? It’s phenomenal to think that it’s been around that long, and Global Offensive keeps the action going with new characters, maps, weapons, and modes.
And yes, this is another Half-Life mod, so expect big things right from the off!
The gameplay is exactly what you would expect from any Half-Life mod, never mind a Counter Strike game. It’s simple, no-holds-barred death match action that plays well and does exactly what it says on the tin.
That tin being a tin full of ammunition and adrenaline waiting to explode.
The graphics look amazing whether playing on PC, Mac, or Steam Deck too, the latter giving players around the world a chance to log on and play anytime, anywhere, whenever the feeling takes them.
2. Left 4 Dead 2 (2009)
Left 4 Dead 2 takes the silver medal in our best Valve games list, bringing even more zombie action to the table in a sequel that is terrifyingly brilliant.
The first title in the series was a knockout success, bagging the award for being the bet co-op game to come out of 2008.
Now, the zombie apocalypse has evolved past the use of smashing undead beasties with a frying pan, with new enemies to tackle, changing weather patterns, and multiple paths that keep gameplay exciting.
Travel from the city to the cemetery while visiting swamps and plains in between, creating carnage at every turn and laying waste to undead hordes in the process.
It’s a zombie shooting game, which means action-packed gameplay and areas where running and fleeing just isn’t a survival option.
While the main game is amazing, it’s the new multiplayer mode that has us coming back for more time and time again even today, a versus survival mode that really knows how to get your blood racing.
Mainly because it’s your blood that the zombies are after… and your flesh, eyes… you’re pretty much an all-you-can-eat-buffet to them.
1. Half Life 2 (2004)
The results are in, the valve has been capped, and Half Life 2 is officially the best Valve game of all time!
From being caught up in a horde of angry monsters in his first game to an outing that sees him fighting strange beings that conquered the world in just 7 hours, Gordon Freeman might not be a free man, or an alive man, for much longer.
His exploits in City 17 are much smoother and graphically impressive than the first title, with an even better storyline to immerse yourself in, something that we never thought was possible!
A scientist joining a rebel group to take down space cretins. Honestly, this is why I stuck to writing rather than messing around with space and time.
As it’s a Half-Life game, weaponry makes a big impact. Don’t worry though; Gordon’s crowbar makes a reappearance again too!
If you loved Half-Life but wish it felt more like the incredibly movie Children of Men, then Valves pivotal title is one that you need to own pronto!
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Seb Santabarbara has bought every Nintendo console that has ever been released in his 31 years on Planet Earth. His favourite game franchise is Zelda, and he’s patiently waiting for Banjo-Kazooie to come back to the fold. When he’s not playing games, he’s travelling the world in his self-converted camper van.