For the past ten years, Half-Life fans have been left wondering where the series would have headed after the conclusion of Episode 2. Now, we’ve been given our best indication to date as to what Valve’s plans were, as writer Mark Laidlaw has posted what seems to be a plot synopsis online.
Laidlaw has long since retired from Valve, but having served as a key part of the development team for both Half-Life and its sequel, it’s reasonable to expect that he worked on Half-Life 3. It’s not entirely clear whether his take on Episode 3 was something he created for the studio, or just his own personal way of appeasing fans, but it certainly makes for interesting reading.
The text changes most of the names of the people, places, and organizations involved — but Half-Life fans should be able to decipher what Laidlaw is talking about. It’s fascinating to see where Valve might have taken the series, and this version of Episode 3 certainly seems like it would have been a satisfying installment in terms of plot.
The game would have opened with Gordon Freeman and Alyx Vance on the hunt for the Borealis, the Aperture research vessel that played into the plot of Episode 2. Their search would bring them into further conflict with the Combine, as well as another run-in with the villainous Dr. Wallace Breen.
The final section of the game would have played out on the Borealis itself. There it would be revealed that the vessel was outfitted with a technology known as the Bootstrap device — an extension of the project that produced the Portal gun that would allow matter be transported anywhere without fixed entry and exit points.
However, the Bootstrap device would also transport material through time. This would have resulted in some mind-bending set-pieces where Freeman and Vance fight through the ship as various different eras play out around it.
It’s really fascinating to see what could have been, especially for a game as hotly anticipated as Episode 3. That said, if Laidlaw feels comfortable posting this publicly, it seems to suggest that the Half-Life series is truly dead as a doornail.
Half-Life 3 likely won’t be announced anytime soon.