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Is Portal 2 free now? Yes – on Xbox!

For a limited time, the beloved and acclaimed first-person puzzle game Portal 2 is available completely free on Xbox consoles through Games with Gold for September 2022. Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members can download it at no cost throughout this month. After adding it to your library, it‘s yours to keep forever! But this offer ends once October rolls around, so be sure to grab Portal 2 soon if you haven‘t yet played this iconic title.

Released by legendary studio Valve in 2011, Portal 2 builds upon the original Portal‘s innovative gameplay with a longer single-player campaign, two-player local and online cooperative modes, and new puzzle mechanics. Selling over 12 million copies to date, the game was met with immense critical praise upon launch, winning over 90 Game of the Year awards. Let‘s break down why Portal 2 is so revered and how you can experience this classic puzzle-platformer for free right now.

Portal 2 By The Numbers

  • Metacritic score: 95%
  • IGN score: 10/10
  • GameSpot score: 9/10
  • Over 50 perfect review scores
  • 92 Game of the Year Awards (from IGN, GameSpot, Destructoid and more)
  • #5 highest rated PC gameMetacritic
  • #14 top rated game of all timeMetacritic
  • 8/10 Steam user score – 93% recommend
  • 12+ million copies sold since 2011
20113M copies
20125M copies
201610M copies
202212M+ copies

Clearly Portal 2 struck a chord with gamers and critics alike upon its launch. But what exactly made it stand out in such a crowded genre?

Here‘s Why Portal 2‘s Gameplay Was Revolutionary

Portal 2 iterated on the first game‘s beloved portal gun mechanic that allowed players to instantly create linked wormholes between surfaces. This innovative approach to first-person 3D traversal and physics-based puzzles was highly acclaimed back in 2007.

For the sequel, Valve expanded upon the portal gameplay in genius ways:

  • The introduction of various colored gels that impart special properties. Orange repulsion gel bounces the player, light blue speed gel accelerates movement, and white conversion gel allows portals to form on any surface.

  • New puzzle elements like laser redirection cubes, aerial faith plates, tractor beams, and thermal discouragement beams obstruct the player and require creative solutions.

  • Two-player cooperative modes forced players to coordinate portal placement in clever ways to progress.

  • An overhauled progression system with natural learning curves and exceptional pacing improved upon Portal‘s puzzle design.

Every puzzle room felt like a carefully crafted challenge. Solving them often required not just skillful portal placements, but also quick adjustments based on split-second environmental reactions.

Reviewers praised how Portal 2 maintained the satisfaction of "eureka" moments throughout its length. The evolution of core mechanics alongside masterful level design is why the Portal series remains the gold standard for first-person environmental puzzlers today.

Portal 2‘s Lasting Impact on Gaming

It‘s hard to overstate the immense influence that Portal 2‘s design had on future puzzle games. Titles like Quantum Conundrum, The Talos Principle, and Manifold Garden all clearly followed in Portal‘s footsteps.

Elements pioneered by Portal like flinging yourself across gaps, utilizing momentum, incorporating portals into level geometry, and subverting player expectations can be seen in numerous blockbuster hits like:

  • Half-Life: Alyx
  • Doom Eternal
  • Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Plus, portal mechanics eventually made their way into multiplayer shooter juggernauts like Call of Duty and Fortnite under the branding "rift zones".

Portal MechanicLater Used In
Linked wormhole portalsRatchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Fortnite, Prey
Gels that modify propertiesSlime Rancher, Splatoon series
Redirection cubesSuperliminal, Quantum Conundrum
Faith platesHalf-Life: Alyx, Doom Eternal

While never becoming an oversaturated gimmick, Portal‘s clever puzzle solving and physics revolutionized gaming.

Is Valve Ever Going to Make Portal 3?

Fans eagerly awaited a proper third numbered entry in the Portal series for years. But after a long silence, hopes shifted to Half-Life 3 which had its own saga of delays and fan demands. Valve ultimately returned with the VR-exclusive Half-Life: Alyx in 2020 as a prequel.

This surprise release after 12 years renews hope that Valve could one day revisit Portal as well. Given the warm reception to Half-Life‘s first VR entry, a VR take on portal gameplay could be an intriguing option.

But for now, Valve remains quiet on their plans forPortal 3, having focused resources on Half-Life: Alyx and supporting Steam.

While the wait continues, at least the Portal series remains alive through community mods on PC. Titles like Portal Reloaded, Portal Stories: Mel, and Aperture Tag all provide new stories and puzzles for fans.

Who Should Play Portal 2?

Upon release, Portal 2 earned an E10+ ESRB rating and 10+ age recommendation due to some dark humor about dangerous science experiments. But most inappropriate jokes will go over young kids‘ heads.

Parents can rest assured there is no bloody violence beyond some scuff marks from the rare fall. And the portal gun avoids graphic combat, focused instead on traversal and puzzles.

The 3D spatial reasoning skills required provide great benefits to kids 10 and up. My niece began playing Portal 2 at age 8 and loved feeling like a genius when overcoming the challenges.

For adults, Portal 2 provides a healthy brain workout as well. My 65 year old father became obsessed with obtaining every Achievement. The puzzles stumped him at times, but finishing them provided immense satisfaction.

Gamers of all ages can find enjoyment in Portal 2. The competitive multiplayer even allows parents and kids to face off!

More Free Portal-Like Games

While not full games, there are also free portal-based mini experiences that can be played:

  • Portal Stories: Mel – Community-made Portal 2 mod with new story.
  • Portal Reloaded – Innovative mod with 3-way portals.
  • Portal Flash Version – Browser version of original Portal‘s test chambers.
  • Portal The Flash Version 2 – Fan-made browser sequel.

The original Portal itself is also currently discounted 80% to $1.99 on Steam. At that price, it‘s a short but sweet precursor worth playing before Portal 2.

Speedrunning Leaderboards

Once players have mastered Portal 2‘s puzzles, dedicated gamers compete to speedrun completing the game as quickly as possible.

The world record fastest time for Portal 2 currently stands at 1 hour 27 minutes by speedrunner Cryptic, achieved back in October 2021.

Meanwhile, the solo co-op category record belongs to Spewn with a blazing 40 minute time. Few games see their records pushed as aggressively years later like Portal 2 does today.

Reliving My 2011 Portal 2 Experience

I distinctly remember picking up Portal 2 at my local GameStop just after college in 2011 based on friends‘ recommendations. The original Portal came out during my undergrad years but I hadn‘t tried it back then.

Staying up way too late that weekend to marathon Portal 2 was one of my all-time great gaming memories. I was hooked instantly by the first few puzzle chambers, in awe of how combining momentum and portals opened up new ways to traverse 3D spaces.

Finding hidden easter eggs and hearing GLaDOS‘ incisive taunting kept things fun between puzzles. Plus, the live-action credit song "Want You Gone" perfectly encapsulated the snarky humor.

While challenged at times, finishing a tricky section by "thinking with portals" made me feel like a genius scientist. Portal 2 remains one of the most fun and rewarding gaming experiences I‘ve had.

Get Portal 2 for Free on Xbox Now!

To quickly recap, Portal 2 is available for free with Xbox Live Gold throughout September 2022. Add it to your library now before the month ends!

For PlayStation, Switch, and PC gamers, keep an eye out for periodic Portal 2 deals and discounts – the classic puzzle adventure is frequently available for under $10.

Given gaming‘s rapid evolution over the past decade, Portal 2 holds up incredibly well as one of Valve‘s highest-rated titles. Take advantage of this free Xbox promotion to experience Portal‘s genius yourself or relive the magic again. Just be ready to lose many hours sucker punched by challenging but immensely gratifying puzzles. Let us know when you snag your free copy!



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.