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"If the transhuman forces are to prove themselves an indispensable augmentation to the Combine Overwatch, they will have to earn the privilege."
Wallace Breen[src]

Overwatch Soldiers, also known as Combine Soldiers by Citizens, and Stabilization Delegates by the Overwatch Voice, are the transhuman infantry of the Combine Overwatch, and the primary military units of the Combine on Earth. In contrast to Civil Protection, whose duties are to enforce order within suppressed population centers, Overwatch soldiers are tasked with more hazardous missions like patrolling the treacherous borders of Combine-controlled territory, raiding Resistance-held strongholds, and suppressing remaining Xen creatures.

Being the Combine military operatives, Overwatch Soldiers acquire high military-grade equipment, and advanced combat training program, thus making them more formidable opponents.



Graffiti demonstrating an Overwatch Soldier fully modified.

Overwatch Soldiers are humans that have undergone extensive cybernetic modifications including brain and chest surgery, and implantation of various mechanical devices in their bodies, granting them increased durability and endurance, to the point where wounds and trauma simply don't factor into their tactics. This procedure is carried out at Nova Prospekt and the Citadel, where soldiers can be seen without their armor. There are surgical scars running along the chest and on the head, suggesting extensive surgery in those areas, as well as mechanical implementations on the throat and the side of the abdomen. In addition to physical augmentations, soldiers also seem to undergo mental reprogramming to condition them into obedient and efficient soldiers as seen by their extensive familiarity with combat tactics, combine military codes, and their tactical way of communication.

Standard Overwatch Soldiers, like other soldier variants, wear standard-issue blue and grey camo body armor over their mid-sections with padding on their arms, thighs, and groin. Several insignias can be found on their arm pads, signifying their position in the Combine regime. Their helmets cover the head entirely, and are equipped with air filters and radios. These helmets have glowing blue goggles and appear to be a cross between an old Soviet PMG and PBF gas mask.

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Overwatch Soldier armed with OSIPR

Overwatch Soldiers are armed with MP7s, SPAS-12 Shotguns or AR2 Pulse Rifles, as well as MK3A2 grenades. Using these standard-issue weapons, Overwatch Soldiers typically operate in squads of four to six. During combat, soldiers never backdown. They're fearless. Infinitely enduring, and will always fight to the last man. They use blitzkrieg-style tactics such as spreading around multiple angles to flank their target, throwing grenades to expose their enemies out of their defensive positions, providing cover fire for their squadmates, and pursuing injured targets. In addition, soldiers are also trained in unarmed combat, and should not be engaged in melee combat except as a last resort. Overwatch Soldiers are initially encountered in the coastal wasteland outside Ravenholm, sweeping the highways for Resistance activity and staffing Combine outposts. They can, however, be found anywhere the Combine requires direct military action, as the soldiers can be quickly transported to a desired area via Dropships. Overwatch Soldiers are also tasked with guarding high-value areas such as Nova Prospekt and the Citadel. In addition, they also serve as pilots and gunners of the Combine Hunter-Choppers.

When not in combat, Overwatch Soldiers are cold and emotionless. They will patrol the area, searching for possible hostiles. If threats have not been located, they'll default to fortifying their current position, and prepare an ambush for unsuspecting targets in the vicinity. They extensively use combine military vocabulary effectively when communicating, and are able to string multiple jargons in advanced codes together without pause. In combat, they communicate efficiently using these codes in short and direct sentences to coordinate their attacks, or to report situational and status developments to Overwatch.

Nevertheless, they still display some degree of humanity. For example, snipers will sometimes shout expletives when their nest is intruded with a grenade. During the breach of Nova Prospekt, one of the soldiers in headquarters can be heard stuttering while warning perimeter units of possible command and control of Gordon Freeman over the Antlions. Wallace Breen is also heard in a speech both commending them for the capture of Eli Vance and reprimanding them due to their failure in capturing Gordon Freeman, indicating that they can still understand concepts like morale and reprimand, at least in regards to their human Administrator. The speech also states that Overwatch soldiers are under pressure to perform well to demonstrate their value and by extension the value of the human race as a whole to their "benefactors". This, combined with the Overwatch Voice mentioning "off-world relocation" as a form of punishment for failing their mission, implies that Overwatch soldiers operate on a merit-based system similar to human military.


Being one of the most numerous units at the Combine's disposal, Overwatch Soldiers are both the Combine's primary infantry and seemingly the bulk of the Combine's forces on Earth. In addition to the standard soldier, they also come in several varieties according to their tasks:

Sniper City 17

Overwatch Sniper.

Overwatch Snipers are the sharpshooter units of the Overwatch, who are armed with the mounted Overwatch Sniper Rifle. Their presence (and where they are aiming) is indicated by a blue laser sight. They'll shoot any hostile immediately as soon as it's spotted and still on their sightlines. If they can't get enemy who's in cover they'll try to break his cover by shooting it and any nearby props in order to expose their target. If target's cover solid they'll pin him down as shown when they pinned down Barney Calhoun in the warehouse in chapter Follow Freeman.

Soldier np emplacement idle 2

Nova Prospekt Soldier.

Nova Prospekt Soldiers are essentially reskinned standard soldiers who are tasked with guarding and operating Nova Prospekt facility. They share the same arsenal and status as standard soldiers, with the only difference being their armor. Their armor is dark blue and they typically have yellow goggles, although the shotgun soldiers have red goggles. They display the Combine claw symbol on their left shoulder instead of the Overwatch symbol, and the words "Nova Prospekt" are emblazoned onto the back armor as well as their shoulder. Their unique uniforms give an indication as to how important Nova Prospekt is to the Combine on Earth, which might suggests them being higher-ranking than their standard counterparts. Compared to the Overwatch soldiers, their uniforms are generally more formal-looking and no camouflaged patte. However, they still have the standard badge similar to their Overwatch counterparts.

Shotgun Soldiers are Overwatch soldiers that exclusively wield shotgun. They can be distinguished by their brown and red uniforms and battle armor. Their helmets are slightly darker than the average Overwatch Soldier and have blood red/orange goggles. They also bear the Elite insignia on a red shoulder pad, suggesting that they may be a higher-ranked soldier variant, or a squad leader. In Nova Prospekt they have the same dark blue armor color and Nova Prospekt insignia on their right shoulder that a regular Nova Prospekt soldier would; however, they keep the red/orange goggle lens color and Overwatch Elite insignia on their left shoulder; both of which they would normally have outside of Nova Prospekt.

Worthy of mention are the Overwatch Elite, the pinnacle of the Combine Overwatch. They are special soldiers that have seemingly undergone more modifications than other Overwatch infantry, making them far less human in the process. Overwatch Elites exclusively use the Pulse Rifle and are the only Combine forces that can use the Rifle's secondary fire to a full effect with pinpoint accuracy. They are mostly used to naturalize high-value targets such as Gordon Freeman, or defend areas of strategic importance such as Nova Prospekt (as seen in the monitor of the control room) and the Critical. They are either deployed in a squad of their own unit or in command of Overwatch soldiers.


  • Overwatch Soldiers coordinate their actions and take turns attacking an opponent. Always exercise caution when engaging a well formatted squad in an area with structures that offer concealment (e.g., buildings and walls) and pay attention to what type of soldiers you're up against in order to prioritize their threat levels.
  • When a soldier is injured or has to reload his weapon, he will typically try to find cover and get behind a solid object. When taking cover while in a fire-fight, be aware that the soldiers who are being engaged will most likely throw a grenade at Gordon, so be ready to throw it back at them with either the Gravity Gun or the "USE" key. If a grenade is not thrown, then it is likely that one or more of the soldiers are advancing to the player's position.
  • Maintain complete 360-degree awareness of the surroundings while engaging a squad of soldiers. Also, try not to concentrate on a single soldier while being engaged; be mindful of all enemy movement. Try to keep some distance from soldiers at all times. If Gordon is right in front of a soldier, or beside him, he will resort to a melee attack. Grenades will generally make soldiers disregard everything and attempt to flee the blast radius. This is an effective way to force soldiers out into the open if they are hiding behind cover, or simply to distract them for a few seconds in order to cause some damage.
  • Shotgun Soldiers, especially in close quarters combat, should be the first priority, as their shotguns are a much more threat than other weapons used by ordinary soldiers. They are particularly extremely aggressive and lethal, especially when they're firing while strafing (due to the ability to fire the shotgun in semi-automatic mode when moving). They can even kill essential NPCs like Alyx whose rapid health regeneration usually guarantees survival on lower difficulties and notably drain the player's health up to 21 damage per shot. They will normally try to close in on the player before making a shot since the shotgun is most effective at mid to close range, so take them out from a distance beforehand.
  • Soldiers have a tendency to crouch when dodging leaping Headcrabs, or when being shot on their upper body. When shot on their lower body, they will tend to retreat a few feet, and retaliate.
  • Soldiers prefer to keep their distance and fire from in range when engaging horde of enemies that tend to close in the distance such as Zombies and antlions.

Behind the scenes[]

  • Alternate, green-colored Combine Soldiers with glowing orange eyes were seen in preview screenshots of Half-Life 2: Episode One, at the time when it was still called Aftermath.[2] It is unclear how this variation differed from the rest of the Combine Overwatch, as they were replaced by regular Combine soldiers in the game's final release. These same green-colored soldiers can also be seen in the main menu of Half-Life 2: Deathmatch.
  • A texture from the 2003 leaked Half-Life 2 Beta indicates that the soldiers were to have some sort of shield at one time.[3] They were also supposed to use weapons such as the GR9, the MP5K, and the XM29 OICW.
  • In the Half-Life 2 Beta, the soldiers used the same melee kick as the HECU troopers. Originally, the Overwatch Soldiers would be able to kick doors down, as seen in the E3 demo "Traptown". However, this was changed most likely because, overall, the animation didn't fit the Overwatch Soldier, and using the gun as a melee weapon was more conventional. A left-over animation of the Beta Overwatch Soldier can be viewed in the Source SDK under the name of "shootAR2G". This animation shows what the leaked animations for the Overwatch Soldiers originally looked like: feet closer together, and although they look less experienced than the retail animations, they are more dynamic.[3]
  • According to the Half-Life: Alyx AMA held on the Half-Life subreddit a month before the release of the game, the original Overwatch Soldiers seen in Half-Life 2 were intended to be seen in the game, but appear to have been cut very late in development. However, their new model, as well as the shotgun variant and a green "commander" variant, can still be found in the game's files.

Related achievements[]

Half-Life 2[]

Hl2 kill enemies withcrane
OSHA Violation 5 Gscore
Kill 3 enemies using the crane.
Hl2 pin soldier tobillboard
Targeted Advertising 5 Gscore
Pin a soldier to the billboard in the chapter Highway 17.
Hl2 kill allc1709snipers
Counter-Sniper 5 Gscore
Kill all of the snipers in City 17.
Hl2 disintegrate soldiersinfield
Atomizer 10 Gscore
Disintegrate 15 soldiers by throwing them into a Combine ball field.


  • Shotgun Soldiers appear throughout Half-Life 2 and its episodes in the console versions of The Orange Box, but originally only appeared in Episode Two on PC. As of the May 26, 2010 updates, Shotgun Soldiers appear in Half-Life 2 and Episode One on PCs as well as consoles. This also adds red goggle-wearing Nova Prospekt guards to the PC version of Half-Life 2. In the Xbox version of Half-Life 2 there are no Shotgun Soldiers, as the latest update for the game was released before The Orange Box.
First Apperance Combine Soldier

Combine Soldier by nocliping in Canals.

  • An Overwatch Soldier can be seen above the sewers in the chapter Route Kanal, in the map "d1_canals_05," but this is likely a mistake made by developers who forgot to delete it or just left it as easter egg (this is then, technically, the first time the player sees an Overwatch Soldier). Although the soldier can only actually be seen by using the console command Noclip, he will ignore the player completely unless he is fired at, after which he will behave normally. If it is an oversight, then the first intended appearance of Overwatch Soldiers is in Water Hazard, when they eject from the Hunter-Chopper. However, this might also be a mistake. It could be a remnant of the fact that Overwatch Soldiers were originally intended to appear much sooner than the final map of Ravenholm.
  • There are at least four Standard Overwatch Soldiers (not Prison Guards) in Nova Prospekt. One is shot and killed by Alyx Vance at the beginning of Entanglement, and another is seen dead in electrified water later on. The final two are corpses seen right after the room with electrified water.
  • If the console command "npc_create_equipment" is set to "weapon_shotgun" and player spawn a soldier, a Shotgun Soldier will spawn. This happens in all versions.
  • Overwatch Soldiers will use cover if the player places boxes to form a wall. This can be done in-game by turning off the AI with a command, using the use key to build it, and then finally re-enabling the AI.
  • The shotgun varation of the combine soldiers originally only appeared in Episode 2, with previous games not giving distinction between soldiers wielding shotguns and those with other weapons. They have been updated into every Half-Life 2 game since.
  • In the May 26, 2010 update, the Overwatch Soldiers have increased aggression when equipped with the shotgun, they will most likely strafe constantly and keep firing their shotgun in semi-automatic mode and can deal much more damage to the player.
  • Only two soldiers out of every "squad" can attack at any one moment in time, due to the slot-based squad AI system possessing only two attack slots. Soldiers either rapidly exchange slots to achieve massed fire or are broken up into small squads of just a handful of soldiers each, despite appearances implying larger teams. Similarly, only one soldier can toss a grenade at any one time, and this will temporarily prevent soldiers in the squad from throwing grenades again. This grenade rule only applies to each squad, so it is likely soldiers from different squads may throw more than one grenade towards the player.
  • Similarly to the HECU Marines of Half-Life, Combine Soldiers cannot use their weapon's secondary fire. This ability is only restricted to the HECU Sergeant, and the Combine Elite to augment their significant battlefield presence.
  • Sometimes, if a squad of soldiers reaches Freeman without him attacking or looking at them, they will run up to a decent range and stare at the player, ready to fire. They will attack when the player takes a single step or fires a weapon. This is not commonly seen, however, and appears to only work when the player is a long distance away and the soldiers hardly identify them. This tactic is also shared by Overwatch Elites and Ceiling Turrets.
  • In the old build of Half Life 2, The Shotgun Soldiers looked the same as Overwatch Soldiers.


Concept art[]








List of appearances[]


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