Today, many Steam users got some sweet news to stir with their morning coffee. The update that begins when subscribers to Valve's download service boot up their PCs said that two new Half-Life 2 properties will be on display at E3 next week.
First up was word that the Xbox version of Half-Life 2 would indeed be playable at E3, a fact Valve director of marketing Doug Lombardi later confirmed to GameSpot. The game, which, according to recent rumors, will ship before the end of summer, brings the further adventures of Gordon Freeman to Microsoft's current-generation console. It had been rumored that Half-Life 2 would be a launch title for the next-gen Xbox 360, but that no longer appears to be the case.
It was also unclear what company will publish Half-Life 2 for the Xbox. The announcement said the game would be on display at "the Microsoft Booth" at E3, much like the Xbox version of Doom 3 was last year. However, if the game is released after August 31, it will likely not be published by VU Games. The publisher recently settled a lawsuit with Valve with an agreement that it would stop publishing all Half-Life products, including Half-Life 2, Counter-Strike, Counter-Strike: Condition Zero, and Counter-Strike: Source.
Of more interest to PC gamers was the same Steam bulletin's announcement that Half-Life 2: The Lost Coast would also be on display at E3. While not an expansion in the traditional sense--that is, a boxed add-on available at retail--the Lost Coast will be available via Steam for free "to Half-Life 2 customers that meet a specific set of high-end hardware requirements," according to Valve.
The Lost Coast expansion is being used by Valve to show off its Source engine's high dynamic range lighting capabilities. It takes part of the Highway 17 chapter of Half-Life 2 and turns it into a single level that sports new gameplay as well as improved visual polish. Valve is also currently looking at a traditional expansion to Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Aftermath, which does not yet have a release date.