Half-Life 2: Episode 2 Stats

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Nov 27, 2007

Filed under: Game Reviews 26 comments

Via Rampant Coyote I see the stats for Half-Life 2: Episode 2. It has the breakdown of how much time people spend beating the game, how long the average play session is, how far through the game the average player is, and other bits of interesting trivia.

The average play session is about 25 minutes? How odd. I tend to play for an hour or more, and I’m sure this isn’t an unusual practice. That means there must be a good supply of players out there who play for much less than 25 minutes. There is a good bit of annoying overhead to firing up the game in terms of loading times and whatnot. Hardly seems worth it for ten minutes.

Another surprise in the Episode 2 stats is that 76% of gamers have cards capable of HDR, which means an Nvidia 7800 or higher. Due to my own prejudices I expected this number to be closer to 50%. Whenever I do one of my posts about how “games from four years ago still look fantastic and I see no reason to upgrade”, I get a lot of agreement in the comments. I think this eventually distorted my idea of what sort of hardware “most people” have. Perhaps I’m just projecting in an effort to justify my cheapskate lifestyle.

White Forest Missle Base
The site of the train crash at the start of the game. That huge red blob marks the cliff where you can go and look down into City 17.
My favorite part is the “death map” section. It shows an overhead view of each map in the game, with regions colored according to how many players died in the given area. There are some predictable death hotspots – like when the player must jump the car over a chasm – but some hotspots that are harder to understand. There is one in the very first area at the opening of the game. I wasn’t even aware it was possible to die there. There are no foes. You have no weapons. The whole area is exploration and dialog. It’s a playpen for new players, easing them into the game. There is a cliff there, and I guess some players manage to blunder off of it, which produced the big red splotch on the map. But what about the blue areas of “sparse deaths” nearby? How are those people dying? The only thing I can think of is that maybe they pick up the boulders with the gravity gun and fling them around, which could lead to deadly mishaps.

Perhaps standing near the fence during the scripted portal storm / bridge collapse is dangerous. That fence falls open, allowing progress, and maybe impatient players are waiting right by the fence, anxious for the gate to open. The designers clearly intended for you to stand on the south edge of the map, looking at the vista of ruined City 17. It’s hard not to do so. It’s an amazing sight, and Alyx is down there talking to the player, which gives them a pretty good incentive to go over there.

White Forest Missle Base
The final battle area against the striders. The green dot near the top is the sawmill. The bright red dot near the bottom is right outside the missle silo.
Another interesting map is that of the final battle area. Note the nice, even distribution over most of the battlefield. Then check out the two blue dots on the south side of the map. You can’t get there until the battle is over, and once you do there isn’t anything dangerous going on. So, some players completed the huge outdoor battle, then wandered back into the compound and blew themselves up for no apparent reason. I’d love to know what’s going on there.

The stats reveal the sad truth that my play experience is a lot like everyone else’s. When you find a secret or overcome a challenge it’s common to get the rush of having done something special, but then you realize everyone else did pretty much the same thing.


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26 thoughts on “Half-Life 2: Episode 2 Stats

  1. wildweasel says:

    I’m not surprised about the sawmill being a relatively common death hotspot – but right outside the silo?

  2. Blurr says:

    “That huge red blob marks the cliff where you can go and look down into City 17.”

    I laughed out loud.

  3. yd says:

    I’m interested in this one:


    That tear-drop in the upper-right is right where a supply crate was, I believe. I guess a lot of people didn’t bother using the gravity gun (or the spools)…? It’s interesting how there’s a gap. Pretty much if you were determined to walk the whole way you’d get there and die, I guess.

  4. Matt Norwood says:

    I suspect the 25-minute average can probably be accounted for by players who are tweaking their settings or having trouble with crashes. They probably rack up lots of play sessions measurable in seconds.

  5. Mr. Son says:

    MAn, I’d low to see something like this for Halo2, which I actually play. Or maybe City of Heroes, which I want to play.

    Especially the death spots. I’d like to see how many people died like a bi* in the very first battle in Halo2, like I did the first time I played the solo campaign.

  6. InThane says:

    I actually am one of the people who jumped off the City 17 vista – but I think I did it because the commentary actually mentioned it as a possibility. If not, I know I did it because I was curious what was down there, and if I’d die. So, not an accident per se.

    The one that made me laugh was the number of deaths that occur here:


    This is the denouement sequence, where lots of spoilers happen, so neener neener. There is NO combat at all. You’ve got people who are obviously bored with the exposition grenading themselves to death, RPGing themselves to death, whatever they feel like. Even better, some spots where they are dying are spots that I think are unreachable…

  7. RodeoClown says:

    There is also a chance the stats are tainted by people with low-end systems not taking part in the voluntary hardware survey.

    I suspect people with a testosterone-filled (and no family/child/work commitment hindered) beast of a PC are less likely to feel the need to show their stuff to the world, and so aren’t represented in the survey.

    That being said, I’m glad Valve makes backwards compatibility a big part of what they do – I’m currently stuffed by the requirement for DirectX 8 (got an old GeForce 4 MX), but I know that if I get a DX9 card (pretty cheap these days), that will most likely last me a good many years.

  8. Tacoman says:

    Could they be counting exits from the game as deaths? That may cause the high concentration of death…

  9. Henebry says:

    In fact, if you combine what Tacoman says with Matt Norwood’s comment, you have a good explanation for both the low average playtime and the hotspot for deaths at the game’s startpoint.

  10. Denzine says:

    So 25 minutes is the average time between deaths?

    That sounds about right, actually.

  11. Rawling says:

    I have a 7300GS (actually two) and I’m fairly sure I’m running HDR…

  12. Shamus says:

    wildweasel: Right outside the silo would be where the player is most likely to be standing if the striders overrun and destroy the silo – which results in a game over and thus a “death”.

  13. Ben Finkel says:

    Many times in these games I purposefully died doing something stupid, like driving the car off the bridge when you first get it (best car yet, by the way). I don’t think I died at all during the siege at the endgame, because I kept loading game because a building got destroyed, and I was shooting for the achievement.

    In retrospect, I should have just dropped a save before the fight, played through without trying to save the buildings, and then shoot for the the achievement, because the effect of trying that fairly difficult “conduct” was that the denouements/conclusion was fairly less engaging due to the disjointed battle beforehand. But I digress.

    Oh. I just remembered where I normally legitimately died: the antlion guard slayed me many, many times, both when I was doing stupid things and when I was genuinely trying to move on.


  14. Phlux says:

    wildweasel: I was thinking the same thing. I died quite a bit at the sawmill, because I was trying to prevent any of the buildings from being blown up (one of the optional achievments), and there are 2 or 3 strider spawns right near there.

    I guess a lot of plays probably couldn’t handle all the striders coming simultaneously, and ended up with big battles right outside the silo. I certainly croaked there a few times, but honestly I died more times along the roads trying to kill hunters than anything else.

    I wonder if these were dynamically created by the play data, or if a human had a hand in creating these maps. What constitutes a “blue” area? Is one death enough to fill a small dot, or does there need to be several?

    At any rate, the law of large numbers comes into play when you’re talking about hundreds of thousands, possibily millions of players dying tens or hundreds of millions of deaths. Someone’s going to commit suicide almost everywhere.

  15. Phlux says:

    @6: You’re right…now that you mention it, I hurled myself off that cliff intentionally as well. It looked like it was a short enough drop to be survivable, but there was probably an instakill zone you pass through on the way down, since there’d be no way back up.

  16. Eltanin says:

    Shamus, if you find the time, I’d love to read a review for Episode 2. I finally got my buggy game to work again last night, so I haven’t actually finished the game yet. When I finish, I would very much enjoy hearing your comments and thoughts about it.

  17. Shamus says:


    You may get more than you bargained for. I’m writing my review now and it’s… large. Probably destined to be several posts. :)

  18. Steve says:

    “…cards capable of HDR, which means an Nvidia 7800 or higher.”

    This chart says otherwise:

    It is a Wikipedia link, and therefore not necessarily completely accurate, but I have a 7300 GS and it is certainly HDR-capable.

  19. RPharazon says:

    This reminds me that there’s death-centred heat maps in Halo 3. On Bungie.net, I think you can go for the overall death maps, or death maps of a single match.

    Again, the law of large numbers comes into effect. Halo 3 has an almost pitifully small number of official maps, and some are hardly played. But the ones that are played regularly…

    Think about this: At any given time, about 1/13 of the Xbox 360 population is playing Halo 3 online.

  20. Miral says:

    “You may get more than you bargained for. I'm writing my review now and it's… large. Probably destined to be several posts.”

    Does that include one for Portal, too? I’m interested in hearing what you think of it. (Unless I’ve missed it somewhere already..?)

    “…cards capable of HDR, which means an Nvidia 7800 or higher.”
    “I have a 7300 GS and it is certainly HDR-capable.”

    The 7800 was the first 7xxx series card made, so from that perspective all the 7xxx series is “higher” :)

  21. Stark says:

    Miral, Shamus has posted things about Portal a couple of times back in October. See here: http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?tag=portal

  22. Shapeshifter says:

    “Another surprise in the Episode 2 stats is that 76% of gamers have cards capable of HDR, which means an Nvidia 7800 or higher. Due to my own prejudices I expected this number to be closer to 50%. Whenever I do one of my posts about how “games from four years ago still look fantastic and I see no reason to upgrade”, I get a lot of agreement in the comments. I think this eventually distorted my idea of what sort of hardware “most people” have. Perhaps I'm just projecting in an effort to justify my cheapskate lifestyle.”

    I’m not so sure. I have an 8800GTX video card and i’m pretty much with you. I’m mostly riding the trailing wave of video games because (ironically!) it’s much cheaper that way. When i build a new computer i build it for 4-6 years out though, so i’m looking to the future. Plus, you know. I can play TF2 with all the pretties turned on or what have you.

    I think there’s probably also some self-selection, as was suggested. This is also leaving out the people who can’t run the game because they don’t have the hardware (or don’t want to buy it until they have more modern hardware), so there’s that as well.

  23. Althanis says:

    I was absolutely shocked when I saw how few people have killed 100% of the antlion grubs. Now I don’t feel so bad for having to run through the 2nd part of that 3 times to get it right. At least I’m part of the no more than 0.5% of the people that have racked up 100% achievements for Episode Two. =)

  24. nehumanuscrede says:


    I didn’t kill em because I felt sorry for em :)

    I wonder if the stats track how many times you opened fire
    on your AI comrades because they were in the damn way. . .
    You’re getting bullets in the back while Ron the idiot is
    standing on the stairs behind you so you can’t move.

    After getting killed to something like that, I go out of
    my way to get Ron obliterated by the nearest harmful object.
    Occasionally I open fire on them myself ( it doesn’t do
    any good, but it makes me feel better :)

    Valve actually does a pretty decent job when it comes to
    the difficulty levels. They’re progressively a bit harder
    than the previous one.

    Unlike another company I know *cough*Activision*cough* with
    a certain game *cough*Call of Duty 4*cough* I know.

    That game goes from stupidly easy, to insanely hard with one
    level switch. ( That being Normal to Hardened ) I would
    LOVE to see the death stats on a few levels of that thing.

    The Sniper Ferris Wheel event being my all time death tally
    high in any video game to date. ( Hardened difficulty )
    Fifty plus. At least.

  25. Jim says:

    RE: @23 Althanis: I was absolutely shocked when I saw how few people have killed 100% of the antlion grubs.

    I don’t know if its still the case or not (and I dare not find out) but if you start a new game after finishing that achievement it gets reset and you need to do it again.

    There is/was a similar issue with the “Destroy the Cameras” achievement in Portal.

  26. Greg says:

    I bet you could kill yourself wherever you wanted in the practice area if you were really going for it. You might have to pile things up and jump off them repeatedally, but you could probably do it.

    We should get together, find a low-no death area and write “D20” in our corpses!

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