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Half-Life 2’s NPCs are finally free to blink again

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Relief after five years

half-life Image: Valve

The citizens of Half-Life 2 have it pretty rough. Not only are they being forced to live under an oppressive police state led by a multidimensional empire known as the Combine, but for the past five years, an unfortunate bug has left every NPC in the game unable to blink.

RockPaperShotgun reports that the issue first seems to have cropped up in 2014, when Valve moved its games into its new SteamPipe content distribution system. It’s such a weird little bug that one user who reported it actually dug out an Xbox 360 copy of Half-Life 2: The Orange Box to verify that the NPCs actually did blink in the original game.

Thankfully, with a patch released yesterday, the issue has now been resolved. “Fixed NPCs not blinking” the patch notes unceremoniously read, alongside a trio of other bugs about missing sounds and saved game hitches.

Five years is a long time in the Half-Life universe. In 2014, we were still seriously entertaining the idea that the third entry in the series might actually get made, before the series’ longtime writer Marc Laidlaw dumped his draft for the sequel’s story onto his personal blog in 2017. Nowadays, the idea of Half-Life 3 feels like just a bad joke, and even the optimistic wiki page dedicated to tracking any mention of the game’s development hasn’t been updated in almost a year.

At least this latest patch means we can enjoy the existing games as they were meant to be played; without having to stare into the eyes of dozens upon dozens of unblinking bystanders.