15 Years Ago This Month, Valve Announced Half-Life 2: Episode 3

Illustration for article titled 15 Years Ago This Month, Valve Announced Half-Life 2: Episode 3
Image: Valve

It seems like just yesterday when Valve announced a trilogy of expansions for their super-popular PC game, 2004's Half-Life 2. But it’s actually been 15 years since Episode 3 was announced. And while Valve has since released a new Half-Life game, it wasn’t the one the developer announced back in 2006.

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Thanks to the internet archive, you can find the original Gamespot article reporting on Valve’s plans for the Half-Life 2 episodes. (There’s also this similarly old Gamasutra article.) Published on May 24, 2006, the article explains that Valve had finished work on Episode 1 and expected Half-Life 2: Episode 2 to release by the end of 2006. (It missed that release window and launched in October 2007.) It also teased that the trilogy would be wrapped up with Episode 3 sometime before December 2007.

15 years later and the trilogy hasn’t been wrapped up yet. And it never will. Or at least it won’t be wrapped up how Valve initially planned.

Concept art from Half-Life: Alyx.
Concept art from Half-Life: Alyx.
Image: Valve

Valve has long since moved on from the episodic format. For most of the last 15 years, it seemed the company had also moved on from Half-Life. But last year, we finally did get a new game. The virtual reality title Half-Life: Alyx was a fantastic return for the franchise, even if a lot of folks were unable to play it due to it requiring a beefy PC and VR gear.

No massive spoilers, but Alyx does in its own way wrap up some part of the episodic narrative that went unfinished after Half-Life 2: Episode 2's ending. And it even seems to tease a possible next Half-Life game. So who knows, maybe in a few more years we will finally get a Half-Life 3 or Episode 3 or whatever version of three Valve decides on. Whatever happens, it took a long time to get to it.

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Kotaku Weekend Editor | Zack Zwiezen is a writer living in Kansas. He has written for GameCritics, USgamer, Kill Screen & Entertainment Fuse.

DISCUSSION

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Valve noted once that they would -only- put out HL3 when something extremely disruptive and game changing happened that required a new approach. The closest thing we have is VR and that’s why we got Alyx.

With Valve being run like it is, the window long passed on HL3 ever being available at least for now with gaming being what it is. Gabe and Valve have even said that work was started many times, but each time it stops and anything they’ve done is tossed out.

HL2 came along right when PC gaming was changing as a whole, from being brick and mortar to becoming primarily digital. I’m sure if you check the Wayback Machine, you can find shitloads of people grumbling and bitching about Steam and why they needed to install it.

Valve also is not the same as they were 15 years ago. Steam transformed into something entirely different then they first planned and now sits at the top after years of patches and features added and so on. To anyone born within the last 10 years, a market without Steam is unthinkable.

Valve will never outright say, “No, there will be no HL3" of course but unless things change, there will not be one.

Finally, we also need to take in account memories and rose-colored glasses. No matter -how- good HL3 could or might be, it’s got the task of living up to gamers’s fondest times in their life. It will never dethrone HL2 and I don’t envy Valve in trying to reach those highs, which might be why we will never see HL3.