Half-Life 3: Valve Corporation is known for their out-of-the-box concepts, and they’ve excited us for years with franchises like Portal and Left 4 Dead. But some of their most popular gaming series have one thing in common- despite having released the second title in the series a long while back, we are yet to see the third installment in either. This applies in the case of Valve’s Half-Life games too. While Half-Life 2 was released way back in 2004 followed by two episodes over the next couple of years, nearly a decade has passed, and we are still waiting eagerly for Half-Life 3.
What makes the wait worse is that Half-Life games can perhaps be ranked as the most favorite among fans of the developers. And while the devs have certainly not given any open indication of the third title happening, we have been egged on in our surmises by some very real happenings over the past few years. But the question is, is all of it a myth? Or is there a faint possibility of fans getting to see Gordon Freeman continue his quest in Half-Life 3?
Half-Life 3: What are the odds?
Update: Thanks to those who never ceased to question the future of the Half-Life series despite all the false leads and unsuccessful beginnings, we now have a sliver of information about Half-Life 3. Sadly, however, it isn’t one to make fans happy, for it appears that Half-Life 3 doesn’t stand a chance of happening.
GameInformer’s Andrew Reiner’s insightful article based on an interview with a Valve insider sheds light on what the future holds for the series and if we will at all get to see the promised Half-Life 2 Episode 3 or even Half-Life 3. The article is worth a read for Valve fans to understand the studio’s approach to game development, but the most significant piece of takeaway about the series in question from the interview is this excerpt: “There is no such thing as Half-Life 3. Valve has never announced a Half-Life 3. The closest they’ve come is after Half-Life 2, they said there would be three episodes. We only got two of those. That is arguably an unfulfilled promise. Anything else that we might think about as a full game or sequel has never been promised.”
The source further adds that while there have been talks about Half-Life 3 within the studio, they happened as far back as 2002 when Half-Life 2 was in development. This kind of thing, as has been pointed out, is normal during development and does not necessarily translate into a promise. Work on Half-Life 2 Episode 3 as well as a proper sequel had been started multiple times within Valve’s different employee units, but ultimately, none went on to reach fruition. So perhaps that’s their way of asking fans to move on. Read Reiner’s full article here.
We know that the timeline since the last main installment in the Half-Life series was released is not at all a promising one. But while Half-Life 2 was released almost twelve years ago, we did get two sequels that were equally sought after. On the bright side of things, they were both continuations of the story of the main series; and Half-Life 2 Episode 2 came out in late 2007; which makes the wait for Half-Life 3 slightly easier for fans. From past instances, we know that Valve has a reputation of being rather unpredictable when it comes to the timeline of releasing new games in an established franchise. In this case, we have to bring in the context of their famous zombie shooter games in the Left 4 Dead series. Left 4 Dead 2 came out in 2009, exactly a year after the first entry in the series, right down to its date. But 2010 came and went by without so much as a peek into the possibility of Left 4 Dead 3. But just as fans were beginning to give up all hopes of getting to see a new game, some very legitimate looking leaks hinted that the makers were, in all probability, working busily on the upcoming game. While Left 4 Dead 3 still remains unannounced, fans are mostly certain that the game is coming, and with some major upgrades in gameplay mechanics. So if we assume that the leaks and the eventual results that fans’ diggings churned out are pointers to the title’s existence, then we are somewhat emboldened to think that Valve doesn’t give much thought to sticking to a specific timeline for new additions to a well-received series. And that brings us to think that perhaps it would be the same with their other franchises (in this case, Half-Life 3).
But like we said, the developments over the last year has prompted us to believe that Left 4 Dead 3 is in production. Is that the same case for Half-Life 3? Well, not entirely. Most of the rumors and leaks about the supposedly upcoming game turned out to be elaborate hoaxes cooked up by various sources. However, our wishful thinking was not entirely based on just airy rumors. When we think of the sequels to Half-Life 2, we can’t help but remember that the makers more or less promised to deliver more of those at fairly short quarters. That obviously did not happen, and the sequels ended at Half-Life Episode 2. But if the devs were thinking about delivering more sequels at one point, we can automatically conclude that there is more story to tell to take the series forward. And while the promised time passed by without so much as a whiff of Half-Life 2 Episode 3, fans were increasingly driven to conclude that the story arc was large enough for the devs not to be able to hold them into individual episodes. And that’s where the possibility of a Half-Life 3 being in the works began.
Most notably, even though Half-Life 2 Episode 3 did not come out at the stipulated time, the makers never really stopped mentioning it. Over the years that followed after Half-Life 2 Episode 2, especially through all of 2008, initial plans and concept art for the next episode were released at regular intervals via reputed gaming websites, leading fans to be convinced that the Half-Life series was well in continuation mode. During later instances, the creators made numerous references to what could be Half-Life 3. In one interview, Gabe Newell said that they had big plans for the series, and intended to return to its core, psychological horror aspects with the next title. He further added that Gordon Freeman would also be utilized in his full capacity, though there were no plans to add speaking abilities to the character anytime soon. Fans were happy about that, as returning to Gordon’s physicist roots would be a rather good thing to happen. But as it turns out, the talks never really materialized, even though Valve kept on saying that they were not done with the series.
Other than that, we have seen countless leaked images and videos surface on the internet about Half-Life 3, and most of them were fake. But there have been Left 4 Dead-like instances with the assumed next game in the series, especially the time when some Half-Life related code not found in Half-Life 2 Episode 2 was found in the Portal 2 SDK. What’s more is that, after it was spotted, Valve removed it. Anyone remember the incident regarding Left 4 Dead 3? Does it strike as similar?
Then there were several other incidents which may have been cooked up entirely on purpose. PCGamer has done a stellar job of compiling them all if we need to rethink the possibilities of a new game in the series. However, we know that developers change the course that they plan on their upcoming games pretty often, due to both creative concerns and finances, and perhaps Half-Life 3 has got stuck in a limbo somewhere in between. The positive thing is, there definitely is a possibility for the story to be expanded upon, and that is ample reason for the game to happen, no matter when. So obviously, we are not entirely giving up our hopes about Half-Life 3.
Half-Life 3 Features and Gameplay
If Half-Life 3 happens, we are pretty certain that it will carry forward the story of Gordon Freeman, as we already know that the makers have more material to do that. Add to that the fact that the ending of Half-Life 2 Episode 2 left us totally wanting for more, and we have a recipe for success for Half-Life 3. But while we don’t quite know what direction it will take, several speculations have already started brewing in fan camps. The most popular theory is that in the new game, Gordon Freeman’s new story will take him underwater to meet Doctor Helena Mossman, Kraken’s director. But once he reaches the Kraken base, his mission will go haywire.
But while we can’t guarantee any of that, one thing that we are very hopeful for when it comes to Half-Life 3 is VR support. As we already know, Valve has been experimenting fiercely with VR technology over the last year, and some of their prominent engineers have confirmed that a large chunk of the company’s manpower is dedicated to developing the platform for future projects. So if Half-Life 3 happens, Valve may, by all means, make it VR integrated. That would also make a lot of sense if the new game was to explore the psychological horror aspect in more depth.
Other than these there is not much that can be said about the upcoming game. However, we think that it will retain a large chunk of the gameplay mechanics from the previous games, just for the sake of nostalgia. Considering that, Half-Life 3 will be an FPS game that will cast the player in the shoes of Gordon Freeman. But one possibility is that the new game will introduce a new playable protagonist alongside Freeman, and it could be someone brought back from the old games.
Half-Life 3 Release Date
As of now, there is nothing about Half-Life 3 release date that’s written in stone, and that also applies for the game’s release date. As the developers over at Valve have made it amply clear that they do not follow the rules while developing or releasing their titles, it is nearly impossible to say when Half-Life 3 will finally release. However, we are hopeful that we’ll hear something about the upcoming game sometime next year. As for a specific release date, we can only pray that it comes out by 2018. The game will very likely be released across all of the current generation consoles as well as Windows PC.
In conclusion, all we can say is that the years in between have not been able to drown out the excitement and anticipation of fans for Half-Life 3. This alone makes it quite reasonable for Valve to still be working on Half-Life 3 despite all the stalling and failed promises. We’re sure looking forward to it. What about you? Let us know in the comments below.