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"As you can see, you are not dead. The PCV absorbed the damage at the cost of some of its power. Keep your PCV charged and the chances of survival on the field are very high!"

The Powered Combat Vest, commonly abbreviated as P.C.V. is a protective vest worn by the Marines of the Hazardous Environment Combat Unit and Military Police, over which the LC-2 Harness is worn.



The PCV in situ.

Upon military approval, it entered use by the Hazardous Environment Combat Unit and certain elements of the Military Police.

Part of the combat equipment used by the HECU in their initial incursion into Black Mesa and during the events that occur throughout Half-Life storyline, the PCV is designed to protect the user from chemical, biological, radiological and physical threats during operations in the unit's defined battle space. The vest increases the effectiveness and versatility of the user, allowing them to operate in environments which are outside the normal bounds of the regular infantry.

The PCV is compatible with a gas mask resembling the M40 Field Protective Mask with built-in Night-Vision Goggles within the lens. In addition, the PCV includes a Geiger counter, morphine administrator (which allows the soldier to function normally even after serious injury), an embedded Tactical Radio and a Head-Up Display (HUD) in the protective mask lens which tracks the user's medical condition and weapon ammunition. The vest contains an on-board computer system that constantly monitors the user's health and vital signs and reacts to any changes in the user's condition, although, unlike the HEV, there's no audible VOX system. It only alerts the users through some warning sounds (I.E picking up a battery, Blood Loss, etc) Like the HEV, it absorbs 66 percent of the damage the player takes.

Additionally, during the events seen in gameplay, the PCV provides complete protection to the center mass of the user, protecting the torso, abdomen, shoulders, and back. This is provided by the electrically powered shield which stiffens the fibers of the suit to provide a hard, resilient layer of armor to absorb the kinetic energy. With a fully charged vest, the user can survive several dozen rounds of small arms fire or even a direct hit from a rocket propelled grenade. The PCV also provides protection from high level electrical and thermal energy, biological and chemical threats when sufficiently charged. The PCV can be charged by power modules either from the operational area or specially designed models which form part of the unit's arsenal.

It may be noted that the PCV is comparable to the HEV Suit, which is worn by several Black Mesa personnel, including Gordon Freeman. This similarity is mostly attributed to the types of equipment included in both. In addition, the Powered Combat Vest's armor charge is also rechargeable at civilian, military or government electrical chargers, including those that are designed specifically for HEV Suits. Also, despite being a mere piece of body armor, it is capable of covering all areas for the user, again similar to the full-body HEV suit. This has led to fans speculating that the PCV is either a precursor, or a derivative of the HEV. However, the PCV includes night vision goggles as opposed to the HEV Suit's flashlight. This suggests that the PCV is simply a military adaptation of HEV technology, combining the level of protection of an HEV Suit (which exceeds that of equivalent ballistic vest technology) with night-vision technology that gives soldiers the considerable advantage of being able to operate at night and in dimmed environments. Another speculation is that since the PCV is military hardware designed for the battlefield where chargers are limited while the HEV is for research, the Powered Combat Vest's batteries may be designed to take in energy from whatever source available and maximize the user's survivability and durability.

While the Half-Life storyline suggests that both the PCV and HEV Suit are separate pieces of equipment, the similarities between both may simply be the result of Gearbox modifying the HEV Suit's interface from Half-Life instead.

In Opposing Force, the Powered Combat Vest can be obtained twice:

  • In Boot Camp, the PCV is found just before the HECU's discernible variant of an hazard course.
  • In Welcome to Black Mesa, the PCV is found in the Black Mesa Infirmary on a table. Taking it is necessary for game progression, as the Security Guard encountered later won't let Shepherd pass without it.


  • In multiplayer mode, the server player can change the integer of cvar mp_flashlight. When the server player turns on the night-vision goggles and types mp_flashlight 0 in console, the green overlay will be gone, but the player and their surroundings will glow brighter. In addition, the player HUD color also changes to white (not green as usual).
  • The PCV is considerably more sophisticated than equivalent modern ballistic armor, which provide less protection and are considerably heavier.
  • The item shares the same entity as the HEV Suit. If the player loads a Half-Life map in Opposing Force (which is possible due to both games using the same engine) the HEV Suit will be replaced with the PCV.
  • Due to programming limitations, Adrian Shepherd is the only HECU soldier to actually use the PCV. On other HECU personnel, the PCV is merely a texture.

List of appearances[]