Life-Altering Spoilers Found Below
Half-Life 2: Episode Three? Half-Life 3? The conclusion to one of the greatest video game franchises of all time has been deferred for so long that fans, present company included, had convinced themselves that we would one day experience it in the form of an expansion or a full stand-alone sequel. After all, HL2:EP2 ends with one of the most infamous cliffhangers in the history of fiction:
The world was able to experience this October 10, 2007, almost ten years ago. Since then, Valve has produced two Left 4 Dead games, Portal 2 (with the first Portal being released alongside HL2:EP2 in The Orange Box) and updated the original 2011 “beta” model of DotA 2 to its current Source 2 version, “DotA Reborn.” HL fans held out hope that they would get their turn, but the atrophy of writers over the years was a tell-tale sign. We were in denial.
To call Marc Laidlaw the lead writer of HL would be selling him short. The man is the HL writer. When he exited Valve in 2016, it was the kind of writing on the wall that could not be erased. Yet, we stubbornly hoped for HL3. Not anymore, for Mr. Laidlaw on his personal blog has recently published the script of what was going to be, what should have been, Episode 3. Names have been changed for legal reasons, of course.
For those of you who would like a summary without having to decipher the who’s-who of HL lore, can read below:
-Gordon Freeman and Alyx Vance head to Antarctica and discover a Combine base constructed around the Borealis. Their helicopter gets shot down.
-The Borealis is a bizarre, shifting place that exists into two places simultaneously.
-Wallace Breen is now a Combine grub does not quite understand what happened to him, but hates his current state. After capturing Gordon and Alyx, he asks them to kill him. Alyx refuses, but the Gordon can apparently do something to fulfill his wishes.
-Judith Mossman claims that Eli had tasked her with being a triple agent for the Resistance all along.
-They realize the Borealis is “stretched” between the past and present, not just two places in space. The Aperture scientists activated the device during the Seven Hours’ War while the Combine was approaching and attempted to warp to Antarctica to be as remote as possible, but ended up warping into the future.
-Time and space warp more around the Borealis and the cast gets a glimpse of the Combine’s headquarters from where they launch invasions.
-Mossman wants to “anchor” the Borealis in present-Antarctica to safeguard it for the Resistance. Alyx wants to honor Eli’s wishes and destroy it so it can never be misused. Additionally, there is talk of the potential time paradoxes.
-Mossman and Alyx fight. Alyx shoots Mossman.
-Gordon and Alyx rig the Borealis to self-destruct and create a missile that can travel between dimensions, essentially turning the Borealis into a time/space warping bomb aimed at the Combine base.
-As they fire it, G-Man suddenly appears and reveals that he has been keeping tabs on Alyx as some kind of sleeper agent (as hinted at in Episode 2) since the events of Black Mesa, and actually appears to Alyx. She remembers him, and he takes her with him through his glowing train door as a “replacement” for Gordon, who he leaves to die.
-The player sees that the Combine base is actually a massive Dyson sphere and Borealis bomb could no possibly do any significant damage.
-The Vortigaunts intervene and pull Gordon out right before the Borealis self destructs.
As it turns out, the ending to HL2:EP3 was going to be more sequel bait, but at least it would have mimicked the ending to HL1, in a sci-fi “the war is always ongoing” kind of way that might have been satisfying in itself.
Now, addressing the question as to if this is the real thing or fan fiction, Laidlaw authenticates this himself:
Additionally, and lastly, I leave readers with an interpretation of the concluding paragraph on Laidlaw’s blog:
It has been a circuitous path to lands I once knew, and surprising to see how much the terrain has changed.
“Valve went in circles concerning the direction of the HL franchise. In time, the company has changed.”
Enough time has passed that few remember me, or what I was saying when last I spoke, or what precisely we hoped to accomplish.
“Few care about the games that put Valve on the map, or Laidlaw himself and what he aspired to create.”
At this point, the resistance will have failed or succeeded, no thanks to me.
“I tried my best to get a HL going.”
Old friends have been silenced, or fallen by the wayside.
I have already included links to the stories concerning the departure of Valve writers.
I no longer know or recognize most members of the research team, though I believe the spirit of rebellion still persists
“There are a few people who still care about Valve’s pedigree, but again, most of the old guard is gone.”
I expect you know better than I the appropriate course of action, and I leave you to it.
“I’m not going to sit around here making hats for TF2 or Arcana for DotA 2. Holla back at me!”