Why Half-Life 2: Episode 3 Never Happened

1998 was a a lot less complicated time on this planet of gaming, particularly that of the FPS. Back then, players have been very happy with wave after wave of foes that have been obliged to throw themselves in entrance of their sights, and the thought of a worthwhile narrative wasn’t thought of all that important. Games like Unreal, Quake II, and Turok have been among the many hottest FPS titles round, and motion was very a lot the main focus. Until the arrival of a landmark title from Sierra, a title that may change the face of the FPS eternally.

November 19 noticed the discharge of Half-Life, the primary sport from new developer, Valve. Half-Life was, on the face of it, a easy FPS, however as soon as gamers truly received maintain of it, they discovered a sport in contrast to any they’d performed earlier than.

For one, it had an precise story, one which wasn’t consigned to the guide or a few load screens. Instead, the story of Half-Life truly unfolded in entrance of the participant, with character interactions, set items, and dramatic modifications in tone. Let’s not neglect that lengthy practice experience into work, both. Although sluggish, this was full of a lot taste and lore-content, by the point you stepped off the practice to be greeted by Barney the safety guard, you had the right thought of what sort of analysis facility Black Mesa was. This was no odd job, to say the least.

Half-Life had its shortcomings, such because the pretty poor Xen ranges, but  it rapidly turned one of the vital critically acclaimed video games ever made. It’s one of the vital influential video games ever developed. Oh, and it bought effectively, too. Very effectively.

The following years would see a number of expansions, developed primarily by Gearbox Studios, with Opposing Forces in 1999, then Blue Shift, and Decay in 2001. Half-Life 2 then adopted in 2004, to even higher acclaim. That mentioned, it is admittedly sudden ending left followers wanting. But then Valve launched into a sequence of episodic adventures. Three have been anticipated, to this date two have arrived. We’ll decide the story up in 2006… 


Half-Life 2: Episode One arrived, and expanded on the story, delving deeper into supporting characters Alyx and Eli Vance, in addition to the sinister G-Man, and Combine, the alien race that had taken over the Earth. Gameplay was additionally expanded, with much more of the highest notch motion Valve had delivered earlier than, and the genius addition of the Gravity Gun, and all types of recent physics options that made essentially the most of it. 

In an interview with Eurogamer in June 2006, Valve’s Gabe Newell not solely talked about Episode Two and Three, but in addition labeled Episodes One to Three as Half-Life 3.

“Probably a greater title for it will have been Half Life 3: Episode One, however these three are what we’re doing as our method of taking the following step ahead, however Half-Life 2 was the title we used,” he mentioned, adopted by, “Half-Life 3 [a.ok.a. Episodes One to Three] is in regards to the relationship with the G-Man and what occurs when he loses management of you, while you’re not obtainable to him as a instrument and the way he responds to that, and what are the implications of that.”

Earlier within the interview, Gabe additionally revealed that there was much more content material deliberate apart from the three episodes.

“There are three that are in this arc. There are three that are worked out, and those are the ones that we’ve been talking about so far.”

This would counsel that after the third episode, there might be one other three, adopted by further Half-Life content material. Quite what this could entail is not clear, however as we nonetheless have not had Episode Three, we might by no means know.


In early 2007 Valve advertising director, Doug Lombardi confirmed to Eurogamer that Episode Three was already in improvement, which appeared like a stable promise of the sport’s arrival later within the 12 months. However, the challenge lead, David Speyrer, whereas speaking to Rock Paper Shotgun commented on the shortage of an Episode Three trailer on the finish of Episode Two.

“We’re going to attempt to do one thing fairly bold for that challenge. We don’t need to over commit. If you have a look at the Episode Two trailer that we shipped with Episode One, there’s some fairly radical distinction between what you see there and see in completed sport. That’s actually an artefact of creating a trailer for a product that’s nonetheless in heavy manufacturing. You simply don’t know the place you’re going to finish up.”

This appeared pretty innocuous at first, merely a crew not wanting to vow the world and never ship, however with the advantage of hindsight, you need to marvel, was the challenge already in hassle, and going through potential cancellation for some motive? Maybe not, but it surely’s a potential trace of what was to return, or not, because the case could also be.

October 10 noticed the discharge of Half-Life 2: Episode Two. This was one other high-quality addition to the Half-Life 2 expertise, and delivered even higher and various motion, and expanded on the plot. In distinction to the primarily city warfare of the earlier sport, Episode Two focuses on extra open and rural areas, telling the story of Gordon and Alyx’s journey to White Forest and the battle to cease the Combine’s new tremendous portal.

Finally, we had the ending, and one of the vital notorious cliffhangers in gaming, just because we have by no means seen what occurs subsequent. We have been all set to play the ultimate episode at Christmas of the identical 12 months, however would we?

No, we would not.Christmas of 2007 got here and went, with Episode Three nowhere to be seen. There was no announcement or a delay, the sport merely did not present up.



The thriller of Episode Three‘s absence was on the forefront of fan’s minds. This was the largest FPS ever, and one of many greatest video games of all time, the place on Earth was the following installment? Gabe Newell had talked about it in current interviews, together with on with GTTV, through which he boasted in regards to the new options within the sport. Fans dug into all types of areas to attempt to discover out extra, given the stunning silence from Valve.

Within the Source Engine SDK (Software Development Kit), a person discovered references to ‘Episode3,’ however these have been debunked by a Valve employees member as being merely leftover property. Some thought this was a blatant try to divert consideration, nevertheless.

Valve threw gas on the fireplace by saying that Episode Three would miss 2008’s E3. This was adopted a month later by a number of the first idea artwork, which placated a number of, however may be seen as a easy stalling tactic. Doug Lombari promised extra data on the sport by the top of the 12 months, however guess what? It by no means arrived, and he blamed different Valve initiatives, together with Left 4 Dead and Team Fortress 2 for the shortage of any updates on Episode Three.


Not an important deal occurred in 2009 with regard to Episode Three. Valve wasn’t idle, although, and to the shock, and a few overwhelming venom from followers, as a substitute of delivering Episode Three, the announcement of Left 4 Dead 2 was met with outrage, with some followers threatening to boycott Valve, and urging others to not purchase the sport. Petitions have been penned, and there was a lot anger thrown round.

Left 4 Dead 2 went forward anyway, and it was superb.


Gabe Newell gave a number of interviews in 2010, speaking about his intent to make Half-Life extra terrifying, however as for a launch date for Episode Three, there was nothing. Popular journal, Game Informer rumored that the sport wouldn’t arrive in 2010, which was clearly right, and with it nonetheless MIA, extra Episode Three property have been discovered, this time within the Alien Swarm SDK.

A petition known as “Call for Communication” hit its aim of achieving 1,000 signatures. This was despatched to Valve, however the petition garnered no response. Comically, Peter Molyneux even wheeled his son onto the digicam to ask Valve for solutions. It did not work.


Again, 2011 noticed the same old flurry of rumors and conjecture, with theories of Episode Three‘s absence being attributed to additional work on different initiatives, together with Portal 2. This rumor was strengthened considerably as extra Episode Three content material was discovered inside Portal 2‘s SDK. There have been additionally rumors and almost-official confirmations that Valve was performed with conventional single-player video games, with even Gabe Newell saying Portal 2‘s marketing campaign will be the final. Fans shook with concern.

Newell clarified this with some much less fear-inducing feedback throughout an interview with a pupil. In the interview he defined his want to merely make video games extra social, enhancing the single-player expertise with added social options. He by no means meant to ditch solo play. Half-Life followers might breathe once more.

“It’s not about giving up on single-player at all. It’s saying we actually think there are a bunch of features and capabilities that we need to add into our single-player games to recognize the socially connected gamer.”

Sadly, the excellent news did not proceed, as Valve as soon as once more failed to point out any video games, importantly, Episode Three, at E3. Newell additionally took a distinct strategy to the unending stream of questions on Episode Three, and easily refused to speak about it, in any respect.

Eventually, yet one more code leak was discovered, this time within the Dota 2 beta shopper. It was rapidly debunked by Valve worker Chet Faliszek, who mentioned any point out of Episode Three or HL3 was merely coincidence.

Towards the top of the 12 months, the rumors and outright craziness started to movement freely from the Internet. Half-Life 3 T-Shirts have been seen out within the wild (they have been pretend, after all). Some thought numerous the protection was an elaborate ARG (Alternate Reality Game).

Once once more, Faliszek jumped in to debunk these stories as nothing however trolling. His publish on the Valve Forums was exact, and to the purpose.

“You are being trolled.

“There is not any ARG.

“Wheatley’s speech was set in Portal 2 fiction – that’s all.

“There has been no directive from Gabe to leak something. That is all false.

“I simply need to say this so there isn’t any confusion. This is the neighborhood trolling the neighborhood nothing extra. While it’s good to see individuals enthusiastic about something HL, I hate seeing individuals be trolled like this.”


Following a slightly ballsy motion by followers to ship an entire load of crowbars to Valve’s workplace, Valve nonetheless refused to speak about Episode Three, or Half-Life 3, because it had develop into extra popularly identified. This is regardless of extra petitions, which had unfold to Steam. In reality, Steam was utilized in one other try to drive Valve’s hand. On January 31, 1000’s upon 1000’s of Steam customers all performed Half-Life 2 through the day. This pressured the sport again to the 11th hottest title on Steam. Valve nonetheless did not remark.

Gabe Newell partly broke Valve’s silence throughout an interview with Develop. Newell talked a couple of sport known as Ricochet 2, which was clearly code for Half-Life 3. He principally mentioned that Valve needed to keep away from speaking about issues too far upfront, and mentioned the issue of showing data on a challenge that is always altering.

“We find yourself altering our minds as we’re going by means of and creating stuff, in order we’re pondering by means of the large story arc which is Ricochet 2, you may get to a degree the place you are saying one thing is stunning us in a optimistic method and one thing is stunning us in a adverse method, and, you recognize, we might wish to be super-transparent about the way forward for Ricochet 2,” he mentioned.

“The problem is, we think that the twists and turns that we’re going through would probably drive people more crazy than just being silent about it, until we can be very crisp about what’s happening next.”

With the ‘Half-Life 3: Confirmed’ meme gaining steam, and extra trolls and jokes flooding on-line, no recent information on consequence surfaced, and one other E3 got here and went with no signal of Episode Three. Even worse, Half-Life 3 was marketed as being current at Gamescom. It wasn’t, and Valve revealed this was merely a mistake, and a false itemizing.

The 12 months wound up with Newell persevering with to refuse to speak about Episode Three, and a rumor did the rounds that Half-Life 3 had developed into an open-world sport. Valve remained stoic and silent.


Amidst the same old assortment of rumor, 2013 was fascinating as a leak disclosed fairly a bit of data on the inner goings on at Valve. The leak appeared to reveal data from a mailing listing, and from the corporate’s inner bug monitoring software program, JIRA.

The leak talked about Left 4 Dead 3, the Source 2 engine, and Half-Life 3, with a mail group of 42 staff. What was key right here was the dimensions of the groups concerned. Left 4 Dead 3 had a number of mail teams arrange for it, whereas Half-Life 3 had just one. This appeared to level to Left 4 Dead having a a lot bigger focus, with Half-Life 3 solely having a small presence.

Later within the 12 months, in October, the JIRA system was delved into as soon as extra. This time it was discovered discovered that extra person teams had been added to Half-Life 3, together with a brand new group known as Half-Life 3 Core. This included former Valve staff, designer Adam Foster and Kelly Bailey. This discovery result in a lot hypothesis that work on Half-Life 3 was choosing up, and Valve was placing extra effort into the challenge behind the scenes.


Not a lot occurred of any actual word throughout 2014. In May, nevertheless, hopes have been fueled when former Valve employees member, Minh Le, who co-created Counter-Strike talked about seeing a sport that gave the impression to be a part of the Half-Life universe. He talked about this throughout an interview with goRGNtv. He mentioned it wouldn’t shock him in the event that they have been engaged on it.


This brings us to 2015, which started with one other code leak, this time from Dota 2‘s Workshop Tools. Within an essential dll file (model_editor.dll), customers discovered a command with some apparently telling parameters. This learn ‘physics_testbed.exe -game hl3 -open.’ Fans clearly took this as an apparent pointer to Half-Life 3, though there was no approach to inform how related this code was.

This leak was adopted by one other a lot later. Several information have been discovered throughout the Source 2 model of Hammer, the engine’s stage editor. One of those information was hl3.txt. This contained data regarding porting Half-Life 2 code to Source 2, together with quest techniques and AI modifications. There was even point out of VR mechanics and the usage of an identical AI director, as utilized by Left 4 Dead. Various in-game entities are additionally talked about, with many regarding the supposed quest system, and different options which are labeled as “HL3 only.”

Surprise! Nothing got here of it…

2016 – Now

That brings us updated, and even now, Valve nonetheless hasn’t dedicated to something associated to Episode Three or Half-Life 3, virtually a decade after Episode Two ended. In early 2017, a report from Game Informer advised that Valve had no plans to develop a brand new Half-Life sport, even supposing a number of groups have tried to get a brand new challenge jumpstarted. That mentioned, Newell revealed earlier this 12 months that Valve was again to creating video games, though no different initiatives past its new CCG, Artifact, have been introduced.

Is Valve purposely ready ten years earlier than we see something associated to the sport? Is the sport being labored on? Does Half-Life 3 exist? With a lot rumor and conspiracy-laden concept, it may be very laborious to separate reality from fiction, and there is solely going to be one approach to know for certain, and that is if and when Valve comes out of its silence. Half-Life 3 confirmed in 2018? Maybe. Maybe not.

What I can say, nevertheless, is that Half-Life 3 is coming. How can it not? Valve is likely one of the most business-savvy video games firms on the market. Steam has develop into a large success, spearheading the digital-distribution market, and different releases, like Left 4 Dead and Team Fortress have develop into classics. Both Gabe Newell and Valve’s higher-ups know all too effectively that Half-Life 3 will in all probability break the web and all gross sales data, and until all involved have had lobotomies, Half-Life 3 is on the playing cards, it is only a matter of when.

With Steam and different merchandise doing so effectively, Valve is in no hurry, and with such a cherished license, the crew will need to be sure that it is nigh-on excellent, and that takes time. A variety of time, certain, however time nonetheless.

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