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Half-Life Weapons Basics

"Listen up, soldier! My name is Sluggo and I will be taking you through the basics of all the weapons in Half-Life. Listen carefully as I briefly describe all the weapons and how to use them and maybe you will survive for more than 5 seconds!"

Weapons system navigation
Weapons HUD

"The first thing you'll have to learn is how to navigate the weapons system - you don't want to get stuck fumbling for the right weapon at the wrong time. The weapons system is a little different than what you would find in most games, so take a second to get acquainted with it, and you'll find it's pretty simple."

"All the weapons in Half-Life fall into one of five groups, and each group can be accessed by pressing the 1-5 buttons. You can also cycle through the groups using the [ and ] buttons. When you press one of these buttons, a navigation HUD will appear (see screenshot) and you can cycle through all the weapons in a group by repeatedly pressing the corresponding button. Once you've highlighted the weapon you want to select, press the Fire/Attack key to switch to it."

"You'll also notice a small green bar next to each weapon schematic on the HUD. This indicates how much of the maximum ammo capacity you're currently carrying for that weapon. If a weapon shows up in red, it means you have no ammo for that weapon. Now all you need to know are what the weapons are for each group."

Group 1 - lowtech weapons

the crowbar

The Crowbar

"This is a crowbar. That is your enemy. That is your enemy laying on the ground after clocking him in the cranium. Any questions?"

"The crowbar, while not the most effective weapon you'll find, can still cause some serious damage if you get in close with it. You will always have a crowbar on hand, and in addition to smashing enemies, you can also use it to smash windows, boxes, and vent openings. If all else fails and you're out of ammo, the crowbar will be your only friend, so be ready to use it. Use the 1 key to cycle to the crowbar, and then Fire/Attack to switch to it." 

Group 2 - handguns

the pistol

9mm pistol

"There are two handguns available to you in Half-Life. The first is your trusty 9mm pistol, which you always start with. Ammo for the pistol comes in 17 round clips which have to be reloaded once empty. If you have spare clips, your gun will automatically reload for you; you can also reload manually by using the R key. The pistol has a secondary fire mode which will allow you to shoot faster, but at the cost of accuracy."

"The pistol comes with 85 rounds of ammo, and you can hold up to 250 rounds in spare clips. While there are plenty of deadlier weapons around, keep in mind that the pistol can still be effective weapon...and is one of the few that will fire under water."

the revolver

.357 Magnum revolver

"In the past, many of the scientists at the Black Mesa Research Facility have expressed concern for their own safety. Some have even been known to carry .357 Magnum revolvers for their own protection, which you may find laying around."

"This 6-shooter packs a little more firepower than the pistol, but has to be reloaded more frequently. Also, the revolver has a zoom mode that can be accessed via the secondary fire button. As you no doubt have surmised, the revolver can 6 rounds at a time, and you can carry up to a maximum of 36 rounds of spare ammo."

Group 3 - Shotguns / Machineguns / Crossbow

the assault rifle

9mm Assault Rifle

"The 9mm Assault Rifle is one of the more commonly found weapons in Half-Life. This machinegun is capable of doing heavy damage, especially when in close quarters."

"The Assault Rifle can hold 50 rounds of ammo before reloading, and you can hold up to 250 rounds in spare clips. The gun also has a secondary fire mode which lobs explosive shells at your enemy. Remeber to use this if an enemy is attacking you from a higher position which you have no immediate access to."

the shotgun

The Shotgun

"I will make this short and sweet. This is a shotgun. It holds 8 shells between reloads and you can carry up to 125 spare rounds at a time. The primary fire mode shoots one shells and the secondary mode fire both barrels simultaneously. If you hit someone in the face with this at point blank range, you will almost certainly send them home crying for their mommy. However, it has a long load time between shots and reloading time is even longer, so use this weapon in the appropriate situations and everything will be fine. Understood?"

the crossbow

The Crossbow

"The crossbow is a new weapon that that fires arrows at your quarry that explode on impact. Hit someone dead on with an arrow and you will do them a great deal of damage. However, the weapon takes a bit of time between shots, so be sure to make the first shot count. The crossbow also has a secondary zoom mode, if you choose to use it. The crossbow is also one of the more powerful weapons that functions underwater."

"Arrows for the crossbow come in packs of 5 and you can carry up to a maximum of 50 arrows at a time."

Group 4 - High-energy experimental weapons

the RPG

The RPG Laser-Guided Rocket Launcher

"The RPG Rocket Launcher is the first in this group of high-tech weaponry. You may have used rocket and missile launchers before, but the RPG has a new laser guidance system that lets you direct the missile once it's fired."

"First, trigger the launcher and it will shoot a rocket into the air, which will then almost instantly ignite and take off. At that point, any movements you make will guide the rocket towards your target. Use this to its greatest effect at long range in open spaces where your enemy has few places to hide."

"You will notice that the RPG laser sight places a red dot on your target. If you want to go into stealth mode, you can use the secondary fire mode to turn the sight on and off, but with the sight off, you will not be able to guide the missile. Be sure to make every shot count with the RPG - you can only carry 5 rockets at a time."

the gauss gun

The Tau Cannon

"The Tau Cannon (also known as the Gauss Gun) is a new piece of weaponry that fires highly concentrated bolts of energy at your target. It holds up to 100 charges and the primary fire mode uses 2 units per shot. If a wall is thin enough and you're close enough to it, it's possible to cause damage to someone on the other side of the wall."

"The Tau Cannon also has a secondary fire mode that can be for a variety of purposes. To use it, hold down the secondary fire button and let the gun charge as long as you want - you can use up to 10 units of energy at a time in this mode. When you release, the gun will fire an even higher concentration of energy. A well-placed 10 unit shot can do a great deal of damage, and can also go though quite a few walls at a time - you'll see some glowing residue at the point of impact."

"Another use of the Tau Cannon's secondary fire mode is to propel you up far in the air (or other directions, if need be). Hold the secondary fire button down for a second, and if you look down at the ground when you release it, you'll be sent up in the air. The longer you charge the gun, the higher you'll go. You can also maximize this effect by jumping at the same time. You do not take any splash damage from the initial blast, as you would with the familiar (and suicidal) rocket jump, but you can take falling damage when you come back to the ground."


The Gluon Gun

"The Gluon Gun (sometimes referred to as the Egon) is an experimental new weapon created by the scientists at the Black Mesa Research Facility. The gun uses the same uranium used by the Tau Cannon, and emits a continous bolt of energy that will fry anyone in its path. This weapon is VERY powerful - if you see someone heading towards you with one, stay the hell out of their way."

the hornet

The Hivehand

"The Hivehand is an alien weapon that that contains its own regenerating ammo. Fire the weapon and a small alien hornet-like creature will shoot out, which will then zip towards and home in on your enemies."

"Each time the Hivehand is fired, the gun begins to regenerate more ammo, and you can store and fire up to 8 Hornets in a row. The gun also has a secondary fire mode which allows you to spit out all 8 rounds in a quicker machinegun-like burst, the tradeoff being that the hornets will only travel in a straight line...and of course, you'll run out of ammo quicker."

Group 5 - Weapons to be tossed or placed



"I hope I don't have to explain these to anyone here. Press the fire button to pull the pin, let go to throw the grenade. If you look down when you throw a grenade, it will basically drop straight down and not move. The further you look up, the farther the grenade will go. You have 5 seconds to throw the grenade once you pull the pin, so don't hold it too long. "

"If you want to sneak attack someone with a grenade, pull the pin and hold the grenade for a few seconds before throwing it. This will give your enemy less time to react and escape. You can hold up to 10 grenades at a time."


Laser Tripmines

"Many of our veteran soldiers will be familiar with the concept of the laser tripmine. For you green marines, you can use this device by walking up to a wall and then using the Fire/Attack button to place it. After a moment, a laser will shoot out perpendicular to the mine, which will detonate the mine when broken."

"Remember, the laser does not hurt you, the exploding mine does. If you come across a laser tripwire, look around to see how far away the mine is before crossing it - you should use this device for booby-trapping tight passageways. You can carry 5 laser tripmines at a time."


Satchel Pack

"Another explosive device, you can throw the satchel anywhere and then remotely detonate it. First, switch to the satchel pack and press the Attack/Fire button to toss it. Once you've done that, you can use the remote detonator (included with each satchel) to detonate the pack at any time."

"The satchel also has a secondary fire mode that allows you to place multiple satchels and blow them all up simultaneously. This can be very effective if you want to take out an entire area. In the diagram on the right, you can see a shot of both the satchel pack as well as the remote detonator. You can carry up to 5 satchels at a time."


The Snark

"In your travels, you may come across this alien item which will allow you to toss small Snarks at your enemies. They will then chase down players and attack them for you. These can be very effective and are usually rare."

"You should always be on the alert for a Snark attack - if you spot them, you can mow them down fairly easily with a machinegun...but only if you spot them. Snarks come in packs of 5, and you can hold up to 15 at a time."

"Note: none of this information has been approved or verified by officials at Valve, so it's possible there may be an inconsistency or two in these reports. Be sure to experiment with the weapons on your own to discover their full potential."

Next: Half-Life tips

FAQ Created: 11/21/98    /   Last revision: 12/07/98

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