This article contains spoilers. Read at your own risk!
It might spoil your gaming experience when first playing the related games.
For over a decade after the release Half-Life 2: Episode Two in October 2007, there was very little news from Valve on the next Half-Life game.
Half-Life 2: Episode Three, the third and final installment of the Half-Life 2 episodes, was expected to follow soon after Episode Two, as Valve had stated that they aimed to release a new episode every six to eight months. However, as of May 2020, three pieces of concept art are all Valve have shown of the sequel. Since then, Valve has released ten other games.
On November 18, 2019, 12 years after the release of Half-Life 2: Episode Two and the day before the 21st anniversary of the release of the original Half-Life, Valve announced Half-Life: Alyx, a virtual reality video game set in the Half-Life universe, where you play as Alyx Vance in the aftermath of the Combine invasion on earth, before the events of Half-Life 2. On November 21 the first trailer for the game was released and the game became available for pre-purchase. According to lead programmer David Speyrer, in an interview with the video game magazine The Verge released the same day, Half-Life: Alyx is "the next part of the Half-Life story," and says that they recommend playing through Half-Life 2: Episode Two beforehand.
Prior to Alyx's announcement, leaks suggest that Valve abandoned the episodic model and was working on a full sequel entitled Half-Life 3, but Valve employees consistently refused to comment on the status or nature of the next Half-Life game, much to the displeasure of their fanbase. Despite general satisfaction with the games Valve has made since Episode Two, the Half-Life 3 continues to be their most anticipated title, and since the long-awaited release of Duke Nukem Forever in 2011, it has become gaming's most infamous case of continuing vaporware.
In an interview with Geoff Keighley (author of The Final Hours of Portal 2 and The Final Hours of Half-Life 2), Half-Life: Alyx's developers remained coy on the subject of whether Half-Life: Alyx could bridge the gap towards a virtual reality-based Half-Life 3, noting they would have to see how Half-Life: Alyx was received.
Timeline of released information
What follows are the facts that have been revealed by Valve or found by gamers over the years about anything relating to the future of the Half-Life franchise.
In 1999, the domain half-life3.com is registered under the same details as half-life2.com, with Valve cited as the contact. The URL used to redirect to The Orange Box website but now returns a blank page.
- In May, Episode Three is announced for a Christmas 2007 release.
- The same month, it is revealed that a new Episode will be released every six to eight months, and will take four to six hours to complete. An Episode Four, developed outside of Valve and with a stand-alone plot, is also mentioned.
- In a May interview given by David Speyrer and Doug Lombardi about the development of Episode Three, it is stated that a lot of work has gone into creating a natural progress of topography and climate between Two and Three, and that the player will not head back to City 17, at least not in this game. Furthermore, Speyrer does not want to comment on speculation started by PC Gamer UK on the game's climax being a battle set at an Arctic research station.
- In October, Episode Two is released. At the end of the game, Gordon Freeman and Alyx Vance are about to leave to Arctic locations, in search of Judith Mossman and the newly recovered Borealis, the Aperture Science icebreaker, suggesting this is what the sequel to Episode Two will be about.
- In a November interview, David Speyrer explains that an Episode Three teaser at the end of Episode Two was deliberately omitted to avoid ruining the mood the player would have been in after the final scene by having it followed by a high action trailer. Another reason was to give them more creative freedom, and avoid being committed to anything seen in the potential trailer, stating they are trying to do "something pretty ambitious". He also states they did not want to make the same mistake as with the Episode Two trailer featured at the end of Episode One, as it is radically different from the finished game.
- In November as well, the first concept art for Episode Three is released by GamesRadar.
- In December, Episode Three is said to be only the end of the current Half-Life 2 story arc, not the end of the overall Half-Life franchise, nor the episodic releases, with even more episodic games unconnected to the current story arc to be made. This hints at the Episode Four mentioned in 2006.
- In March, concept images are uploaded to Andrea Wicklund's Picasa portfolio. The images are later leaked, and the original images are taken down. They are presented below.
- In April, source code for three entities is released in the Source SDK in a folder named "Episode3", before being removed shortly after. They include "npc_combine_armored" (a heavily armored Combine soldier with separate shields for each part of its body), "npc_wpnscanner" (a scanner shooting bolts), and "weapon_proto1" (appearing in the Source Particle Benchmark and Episode Two as a test weapon). However, it is later stated by Valve's Tony Sergi that the code is a leftover of old material.
- In July, the second Episode Three concept art is released through the winner list of the Into the Pixel contest of that year, involving Gordon Freeman and his crowbar face to face with a Combine Advisor, and made by Valve artists Ted Backman, Jeremy Bennett, and Tristan Reidford. The same month, the third and last concept art so far is revealed again by GamesRadar.
- In an October interview, Valve marketing director Doug Lombardi states that news or an announcement of Episode Three might be revealed near the end of the year. In that interview, Lombardi also states that the distance between Episode Two and its sequel will be longer than the distance between the three current Half-Life 2 games.
- In December, video footage of what is presented as an Alpha version of Episode Three is released. It is later revealed to be a fan-made set of maps.
- While the community is expecting an announcement on the future of the Half-Life franchise on June 1, Left 4 Dead 2 is announced instead, instantly leading to the creation of the Left 4 Dead 2 boycott Steam group. Following that pattern, on June 4, a petition named Message to Valve is created on the Steam forums by user Surfrock22, requesting more communication between Valve and the Half-Life fanbase (referred to in the thread as Valve's "oldest and longest running fanbase"), thus publicly release some information about the future of the Half-Life franchise.
- In an August video involving Gabe Newell and two interpreters discussing deafness and video games with a small audience of hearing-impaired people, the inclusion of an unidentified deaf character in a future game set in the Half-Life and Portal universe is said to be tested by Valve, as a new gameplay and Source engine feature aimed at providing better support for hearing-impaired players. Newell suggests that before Alyx met Gordon, she had a crush on a hearing impaired Resistance member, so she programmed Dog with knowledge of sign language so she could practice and easily communicate with him. Then this person went away from Alyx to fight the Combine someplace else, and Alyx and Dog started signing with each other when they wanted to communicate without making noise or without other people knowing.
- The same month, Newell explains in an interview that Valve is experimenting many techniques on their games, including Episode Three. He adds he has currently nothing to say about the game, and that the community will be notified as soon as they have material they are ready to share.
- In a March interview, Newell hints that Valve intends to return the Half-Life franchise to its psychological horror roots by exploiting the fans' deepest fears, which he sums up as "the death of their children" and "the fading of their own abilities".
- The same month, the Portal ARG is launched. At the beginning, the community starts to speculate it is related to Episode Three, until it is revealed the ARG is promoting the upcoming Portal 2.
- In an April interview, Gabe Newell states that Gordon Freeman will go unchanged in the next Half-Life game - he wants him to "largely remain an arm and a crowbar." There also are no plans to make him a talking character, as Newell considers making the player's companions more interesting and compelling seems a more fruitful avenue to explore.
- Shortly after Alien Swarm is released in July, unused hint nodes are found in its SDK, under the names "Ep3 Blob Shake Position", "Ep3 Fire Cover Position", "Ep3 Brain Cover Position", "Ep3 Brain Regenerate Position", "Ep3 Spit Position", "Ep3 Spawn Generator Position", and "Aperture: Nest". Given the prefix "Ep3" and the use of the name "Aperture", these may be leftovers of the sequel to Episode Two.
- In an August interview, Doug Lombardi states they hate to make the community wait but that they have no announcements regarding Gordon Freeman or his ongoing adventures at this time.
- In February, Chet Faliszek states that Valve is "not prepared to talk about [Episode Three] at the moment".
- When asked about the future of the Half-Life series in a March interview, Doug Lombardi states that they are not done with Gordon Freeman's adventures, and advises the community to "hang in there" with them, without further detail.
- On April 19, Portal 2 is released. The same day, The Final Hours of Portal 2 is released. In it, author Geoff Keighley states that Portal 2 is probably Valve's last game with an isolated single-player experience. This is misunderstood by many members of the community as the simple end of single-player games made by Valve, which is negated by Gabe Newell in a May interview, in which he states that Valve is not done with single-player games but rather done with single-player games as we know them today and that they will transform into "single-player plus" games, thus single-player games with social components added to them. He reckons that entertainment is inherently increased in value by having it be social, letting people play with their friends, and recognizing that they are connected with other people, and that they have to work on adding this to their single-player games.
- In another May interview, Newell states that Valve is done with the episodic model as we know it, now rather updating the same game as much as they want through Steam, which was introduced with Team Fortress 2. This suggests that the next Half-Life game will not be in the vein of its two predecessors, leading the community to speculate that Valve has moved to a larger project.
- The same month, the Portal 2 SDK is released. In the files, code for an NPC named "Combine Advisor - Roaming" is found by users, and is shortly removed in a subsequent update.
- In May again, several .vcd choreography files labeled "magnuss" are found in Portal 2's VPK cache. They are named "magnuss_get_going.vcd", "magnuss_idle.vcd", "magnuss_nopoint.vcd", "magnuss_shakehead.vcd", and "magnuss_wave.vcd", and appear to be for the model "magnusson.mdl", Arne Magnusson's model. They don't exist in the Episode Two files, where Magnusson's animations are prefixed "mag", suggesting they may be either old discarded animations, or animations set to appear in the next Half-Life game.
- In June, at the Games for Change festival in New York, Gabe Newell delivers a keynote focusing largely on the educational benefits of games. When Newell asks the audience for any questions, someone asks when Episode Three is going to be released. Newell's answers "If you know enough to ask the question, you know enough what the answer is."
- On August 11 and 12, three fans picket outside of the Valve headquarters in Bellevue, Washington, requesting information about Episode Three / Half-Life 3. Gabe Newell in person comes out to speak with them, they go for lunch together, and are also given a tour of the offices by Erik Johnson, as well as pizza, playtesting of Dota 2, and some goodies. However, upon being asked when a new Half-Life was coming out, Newell merely answered: "I can't tell you.". The first day counts two fans only, and they are joined with a third one on the second day. The texts on their signs include "CANADA 4 THE RELEASE OF HALF LIFE 3", "HALF LIFE 3... IS IT LEFT 4 DEAD?", "HOW DID JUDITH GET TO THE ARCTIC SO QUICKLY? (rest unseen)" "I COULDN'T THINK OF A NEW SIGN... BUT YOU KNOW WHAT WE WANT (HL 3)", among others. As a Microsoft building is located nearby, presumably a Valve employee gave the picketers four humorous small signs to show, such as one asking Microsoft to bring back the former MS Office mascot "Clippy". The protesters claim that their picketing is not meant to be a serious protest but rather a joke; they just had free time on their hands and felt like "chillin', maxin' relaxin' all cool" outside of Valve. Following the "protest", Kotaku also asked Newell if he had anything to say about a new game, to which he simply replied: "I got nothing for you.".
- Around September 19th, a Vietnamese beta tester leaks Dota 2’s entire game client, as well as all of its files, to the Internet. Among the various files can be found code referring to a folder named "ep3", pointing at what appears to be weapons: "weapon_icegun", "weaponizer_concrete", "weaponizer_liquid", "weaponizer_metal", and "weapon_flamethrower". However, around September 23 Chet Faliszek states that the code doesn't mean anything and shouldn't be taken as fact.
- December 2011 sees several rumors about a Half-Life ARG, and that Gabe Newell has given the go-ahead to those in the know to drop Half-Life hints. Fans see what may be hints in Wheatley's "Character of the Year" award acceptance video for the Spike TV 2011 Video Game Awards, several fake official e-mails are shared, cryptic information is revealed through an unofficial Twitter account for Doug Rattmann, and an unofficial website, Black-Aperture.com, reveals other cryptic messages. All is debunked by Valve through Gabe Newell, Marc Laidlaw and Chet Faliszek.
- On December 1, Chandana Ekanayake, part of Seattle-based game developer Uber Entertainment, sees what he believes to be a Valve employee wearing what appears to be a Half-Life 3 T-shirt at a local developer event, and asks his permission to take a photo of the T-shirt as he is a huge fan of the series. Upon being asked if he knows anything about Half-Life 3, he appears to know nothing. On December 1, a fan named Alexei asks series' writer Marc Laidlaw about the validity of the T-shirt; he confirms its existence but has nothing else to elaborate on.
- On December 9, an anonymous US-based voice actor reveals that Valve has recorded lines for "Half-Life: Episode 3" (sic). This leads to rumors that the next Half-Life game will be unveiled at the 2011 Spike Video Game Awards on December 10. However, this doesn't occur.
- During the Steam Holiday Sale, Valve drops several Half-Life references in their sale artwork. In the comic Randolph the Red-Nosed Turret released December 22, 3 socks are hung on the mantelpiece, for Gordon, Alyx and Dog. Above is the landscape seen by Chell when she reaches the outside at the end of Portal 2, with 3 clouds in the sky. Furthermore, in the image placed at the end of the slideshow of day 5 of the Holiday Sale (December 23) showing the Steam mascots riding with Santa Claus in his sleigh, one of the mascots is holding a golden Lambda necklace with 3 specks of light on it, among other things. This further fed rumors and speculation among the fanbase about imminent news about a new Half-Life game.
- On December 23, voice actor John Patrick Lowrie debunks on his personal blog the words of the anonymous voice actor from December 9 by stating in the comments on a post about his wife Ellen McLain being nominated for a VGA award that he hasn't heard anything yet about a new Half-Life game, and thus has not recorded anything yet. He states, among other things: "No Half-Life 3 stuff yet. Haven’t heard anything." and "Ellen and I haven’t heard anything about a new Half-Life episode. He later repeats this lack of knowledge on March 23rd, 2012.
- On December 26, the petition launched in 2009 on the Steam Users' Forums (more than 1,600 signatures as of February 2012) evolves to a Steam group named "A Call for Communication (Half-Life)" (more than 50,000 members as of February 2012).
- On January 9, several references to the Half-Life series are found in the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive beta files, namely being several whiteboard texture files for the map "Office", containing the names of several Half-Life 2 main characters, among other things.
- On January 5, "Operation Crowbar" is launched on the Steam Users' Forums, as another form of protest against Valve's silence on the future of the Half-Life franchise (the operation also has its dedicated Steam group). It involves buying crowbars and mailing them to Valve, or, as a cheaper alternative, spam Valve's e-mail accounts and Facebook page with pictures of crowbars or crowbar-related puns.
- On January 10, IGN's editor Charles Onyett speculates that, based on industry trends, 2012 will be the year Valve finally starts talking about Half-Life 3, and believes Valve might be waiting for details from Sony and Microsoft on their next-generation consoles before announcing anything.
- On January 13, Marc Laidlaw confirms the rumor that a fourth and canceled Half-Life 2 Episode, Return to Ravenholm, was developed by Arkane Studios from 2006 to 2009.
- Following Ekanayake's information about the Half-Life 3 T-shirt, Garry Newman, creator of Garry's Mod, trolls the community on January 12 by showing a fake Half-Life 3 T-shirt on his Twitter, claiming it was sent by Valve.
- As of January 19, the Steam group "A Call for Communication (Half-Life)" has been covered by over 27 gaming publications.
- On February 4, the Steam group "A Call for Communication" organizes "A Red Letter Day", a group event which involves playing Half-Life 2, aimed at putting the franchise back in the spotlight, drawing more people to their cause and simply "be a huge group of Half-Life fans playing one of the best games ever made". Though hopes also are that Half-Life 2 would reach the top ten games played for that day, it only reaches #11, with a maximum of 13,216 concurrent players. A website is also launched the previous day to mark the event and coordinate the future ones.
- In April, Gabe Newell is interviewed by the Seven Day Cooldown podcast. His interviewer asked, "My final question and the question in the back of all your fans' minds and everyone has been waiting to ask you for a long time: When can we expect the release of Ricochet 2?" An audibly amused Newell responded, "In terms of Ricochet 2, we always have this problem that when we talk about things too far in advance, we end up changing our minds as we're going through and developing stuff, so as we're thinking through the giant story arc which is Ricochet 2, you might get to a point where you're saying something is surprising us in a positive way and something is surprising us in a negative way, and, you know, we'd like to be super-transparent about the future of Ricochet 2. 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."
- It seems more than likely that the term "Ricochet 2" is a code-name for the next Half-Life game, as Ricochet itself was a multiplayer mod for the original Half-Life that is considered one of the worst games Valve has released (and more importantly, does not even have a plot). When asked if those working on the project have moved on to other games, Newell responds, "No, everybody who has worked on Ricochet 2 continues to work on Ricochet 2."
- On June 1, the Twitter account "BreenGrub" begins posting. Marc Laidlaw, the main writer of the Half-Life series later confirms, "Basically it's me writing Dr. Breen fanfic." He later explains, "I personally cannot give the world a Half-Life game. All I can personally do, at least for now, is stuff like this."
- On June 9, Gabe Newell appears in a video blacksmithing a crowbar. He is asked, "Hey, is that about ready?" to which he replies, "These things, they take time."
- On August 17, a video is released in which Gabe Newell jokingly says, "You'll never get Half-Life 3 if you eat me." This suggests that the game, if released, would be called "Half-Life 3".
- On August 14, Mad Catz publishes a computer-generated promotional video for their new keyboard in which a Half-Life 3 logo is visible among other icons.
- On February 6, Gabe Newell, and J.J. Abrams of Bad Robot Productions held a presentation together, titled 'Storytelling Across Platforms: Who Benefits Most, the Audience or the Player?' In the presentation, Abrams revealed, "There's an idea we have for a game that we'd like to work with Valve on." Newell then responded, "We're super excited about that, and we're also interested in working with you guys on movies. So, we're going to figure out if we can make a Portal movie or Half-Life movie together. But it's really time for us and for industries to stop talking about potentials and try to execute on them." This was the first official announcement on Half-Life series since 2011.
- On March 28, 2013, David Goldfarb, a video game designer, tweeted "Saw Valve today. They have very nice things." A user replied "hl3 confirmed?" to which Goldfarb said: "my silence must be interpreted as silence." The user replied again with "Reply to this tweet if hl3 is confirmed." Goldfarb replied with "I will show my answer with some interpretative dance. Look closely."
- On June 19, Valve's internal Half-Life 3 group list is leaked. The mailing list includes 42 people. Valve had approximately 300 employees at the time.
- On August 15, John Patrick Lowrie, a voice actor in many of Valve's games, claims that Half-Life 3 hasn't been released yet because Valve is still working on better motion capture technology which would allow in-game characters to adjust their movements depending on player's actions. Lowrie later clarified "The most important thing to know about voice actors is that we’re the last to know anything. [...] whatever Gabe Newell has to say about a project is the best info you’re going to get."
- On August 20, a fan who had recently toured Valve's headquarters shares what their guide had told them about Half-Life 3. "If I told you anything about it you'd just have more questions. We only have elements. Bits and pieces of game. No structure. No story."
- On September 1, Valve's Half-Life 3 group list is leaked again. The list now includes 46 people, 4 more than last time. Also leaked is a new "Half-Life 3 Core" list, including 10 people from the larger group.
- On September 29, the trademark "HALF-LIFE 3" is filed, and three days later on October 2, "PORTAL 3" is filed. Both trademarks are apparently filed by Valve but later disappear.
- On January 3, an interview with Gabe Newell is released. In it, he explains "When we started out we were a single-player video game company that could have been really successful just doing Half-Life sequel after Half-Life sequel, but we collectively said let's try to make multi-player games even though there's never been a commercial successful multiplayer game."
- On May 23, former Valve employee, Minh Le, who left five years earlier, stated that he had seen concept art of what looked like it was in the Half-Life universe.
- On March 3, Valve officially announced the Source 2 engine, which is used for the first time later that year, on June 17, when Valve releases the Reborn Beta for Dota 2.
- In an interview with Kotaku on March, Jeep Barnett revealed Valve had been experimenting with the characters and design assets of Half-Life in virtual reality, but he could not confirm an actual VR Half-Life game was in works or would even be made: "We're not saying, 'no,' but we don't know what the right thing is [yet]."
- On March 19, Gabe Newell, touches on the future of the Half-Life series, though neither confirms or denies future ventures with the series. He discusses (paraphrased for conciseness):
- "If somebody likes Team Fortress they'd like to see what we can do with Team Fortress, or Left 4 Dead, or Half-Life [...] we love all those games, we love all those characters, and universes, and storylines, and we have no shortage of opportunities."
- "If you think of each of our franchises representing a tool, you just wanna pick up the right tool at the right time."
- "I'm a fan of TV shows, [...] I'm a fan of games, and I certainly understand why people are like, 'Hey, I remember this awesome experience and I'm starting to get worried that I'm never gonna get to have it again.' [...] so we understand it, and we feel that, and we think at the end of the day customers are gonna be really happy with where we spent our time and how we've turned that into entertainment for them."
- "The only reason we'd go back and do a super-classic kind of product is if a whole bunch of people internally at Valve said that they wanted to do it and had a reasonable explanation for why [they did], but if you wanna do another Half-Life game, and you wanna ignore everything we've learned, [...] that seems like a bad choice, so we'll keep moving forward, but that doesn't necessarily always mean what people are worried that it might mean."
- On June 9, Valve released the Steam VR app Destinations, with the community investigating if it contained any referencing new titles. Among the strings of data found was something called "HLVR," with various familiar weapon titles and props from the Half-Life series among the entities. This was the first suggestion that a VR Half-Life title was being seriously considered by Valve.
- On July 24, The Know releases a YouTube video claiming to have received information from an anonymous source within Valve. The source provided the following:
- In 2009, Half-Life 3 was well into development, with a team of about 100 working on it, but a number of those those employees were later moved to projects that needed immediate attention at the time, such as Left 4 Dead 2, Portal 2, and Dota 2.
- Valve's management isn't at all interested in the game's release, as they have no business incentive, already making plentiful revenue from Steam and their freemium games (Team Fortress 2 and Dota 2), and furthermore they are afraid of receiving intense negative backlash similar to the Mass Effect 3 controversy if the game isn't perfect. In response, they have moved resources away from the project to keep it from moving forward. (The source also states that the Mass Effect 3 controversy was a critical factor in their decision to move resources away from the project and that this is commonly referenced in Valve management when asked internally about the matter.)
- Half-Life 3 is currently still in development but only by a team of around ten people. The script, story, and game events are complete.
- On July 25, Marc Laidlaw replies to an email regarding The Know's video. Laidlaw writes "I can't comment on Valve's internal process, but I can say that it sounds like someone is trolling. [...] in my experience at Valve, fear is the last thing that would ever drive a decision about what to work on." He also expresses that "A Half-Life story [cannot] somehow exist outside of a game. [...] The Half-Life story is really only as good as the game that lets you play with it."
- On July 27, The Know releases a follow-up video presenting additional e-mail correspondence with Marc Laidlaw.
- Laidlaw talks about Valve's process in regards to script. He writes "We feel our way forward in a way that resembles blind groping, especially in the beginning. I wouldn't even know what a script might contain until we've got a fair bit of gameplay that seems compelling. You have ideas for places, scenes, characters, but they are very very rough...sometimes reflected only in emails and conversations. Nothing like a design document or a script. This is my experience anyway." The Know comment that they think Laidlaw was interpreting the term 'script' differently than their source.
- He also says "I can never report on the state of projects at Valve except in the context of product release publicity. [...] It is possible that whoever the anonymous source is might be or have been a Valve employee, but nothing I've heard leads me to believe they know anything relevant."
- The Know conclude that both their original source and Laidlaw are probably telling the truth, they are just seeing the situation from two different perspectives. So what they told us was true, from a certain point of view.
- On July 26, Tyler McVicker of Valve News Network responds to the original The Know's video.
- The way employees at Valve work is different and management didn't move as Valve's desks are movable to signify their collective excitement and interest on working a specific project.
- There is basis to the rumour that releasing a less-than-perfect product regarding Half-Life 3 will result in a biggest backlash, but the fact that fear has nothing to do with Half-Life 3 being developed, released or delayed is debunked by said comment from Laidlaw.
- Regarding a comment whose Laidlaw about the story, McVicker notes the story has changed immensively since then, pointing out to prior games during their development stage.
- He notes the shortcomings of game-as-a-service.
- He concludes that The Know did not understand Valve nor fact-check the source before taking it too seriously.
- On September 24, Chet Faliszek, co-writer on the Half-Life and Portal franchises, stated that Half-Life 3 would not be in VR.
- On September 26, Destinations was updated, with more entities from the "HLVR" appearing in the data, replacing the initial entities found in the original app, suggesting continued progress was being made on the project.
- On October 10, an update for Dota 2 is released that includes four files:
ai_basenpc.txt. They describe possible features such as VR support, quests and NPC squads.
- On December 15, VRFocus reports that in a recent interview with Ken Birdwell, a software developer at Valve who worked on most of the titles in the Half-Life franchise, "suggested that a Half-Life VR video game would 'fatigue' players within five minutes, although it's possible that the company uses the series' fiction to build a new kind of experience."
- On December 6, Half-Life 3 among other titles appear on a leaked Steam Database list.
- On January 8, Half-Life writer Marc Laidlaw confirms his recent resignation from Valve and retirement from video game writing.
- On February 7, Half-Life animator Doug Wood confirms his recent resignation from Valve and retirement from video game animation.
- On March 11, J.J. Abrams confirms that the Half-Life and Portal movies have writers attached to the projects.
- The tenth anniversary of the announcement of Half-Life 2: Episode Three comes on May 22. Several articles regarding the anniversary are published, but Valve is silent.
- Tyler McVicker of Valve News Network reported on October 9 that another reference to the HLVR project appeared in a new Dota 2 update, revealing a new string of code that would require the player to speak. He noted that the still-unannounced project's updated code over the past year suggested it was still being worked on, although nothing suggested whether it was a full game or just a demo.
- In early January, Game Informer releases an interview with an anonymous source within Valve. The source provided the following:
- Over the years, there are prototypes of the next Half-Life game, ranging from a RTS game to a live-action choice driven experience.
- There are influencers and decision-makers, and Gabe Newell is the head of the group.
- The team behind Half-Life 3 had two or three people working on it before running into a wall, and some teams have reached up to 30 or 40 people before it was scrapped.
- Every time a Half-Life project collapsed, it becomes harder for the subsequent one to get off from the ground.
- On January 17, Gabe Newell hosts an AMA on the new subreddit dedicated to him. Though he neither confirms nor denies the existence of another Half-Life game, he does say a few things regarding the future of the franchise and the now-mythical Half-Life video game follow-up. This is Valve's first official address of the franchise since 2013's keynote with J.J. Abrams.
- User japasthebass asks, "Any chance of a new IP that takes place in the half-life/portal universe? I feel like there's a lot of story left to be explored there. Thanks!" Newell's reply is simply, "Yep."
- Upon being asked about the Half-Life/Portal movies from J.J. Abrams, Newell replies, "Yep. They're coming."
- While explaining his choice of Portal 2 as his favorite Valve game as opposed to the Half-Life series, he makes a point to state "There's no information in my response about what we'll do in the future," in reference to stating the Half-Life memories are only of things he regrets directorily, clarifying to fans that it not being his favorite game is not necessarily a sign that the franchise is finished.
- When asked why the company does not keep fans up-to-date on their games, Newell explains, "Because our decision-making is way more conditional than most other companies. The one thing we won't do is waste our customers' time and money, which means we will cancel or change stuff much later in development. Tracking our choices would be annoying and frustrating." This serves as a reaffirmation of Newell's earlier explanations as to why Valve avoids confirming another Half-Life game.
- A user asks, "What is the status of Half Life 3/Half Life 2 Episode 3? Is Valve still working on any fully-fledged single player games? An unidentified anonymous source at Valve has said that Half Life 3 has been cancelled. Is that source legitimate?" Newell answers, "The number 3 must not be said. Yes. I personally believe all unidentified anonymous sources on the Internet."
- On February 7, an interview from the year prior featuring Michael Shapiro (voice of Barney Calhoun, The G-Man, and the Nihilanth) was published. When asked if he was confident about a future Half-Life game, he answered: "Between the original titles and the immense fan creativity, Half-Life is incredibly vibrant, and it’s hard to believe we’ve heard the last from the Combine. I’m not at liberty to discuss any detailed plans, but I regularly connect with players who make it clear that there’s hunger for another installment. Might that come in the form of a film collaboration with Bad Robot, or a new stand-alone release? I certainly feel optimistic about those scenarios, and the Half-Life universe is one I’m always happy to inhabit."
- On February 10, following an open meeting with the gaming press, it was reported that Valve was working on three unspecified VR games.
- During said meeting, Tyler McVicker from Valve News Network showed the Valve VR team a photo making the rounds of a woman at the Valve office using a Vive, with a computer screen in the background showing a Half-Life 3 icon on it. The Valve team, which included Gabe Newell himself, were amused by the photo, but admitted both it and recent occasions of Valve employees wearing Half-Life 3 shirts at GDC were staff members trolling fans. Greg Coomer admitted the icon had been floating around the Valve office for quite some time. Newell avoided answering questions about the rumored Half-Life VR project McVicker had been reporting on for the past few months.
- On April 1, a Reddit user reported that Valve had placed in the lobby of their building a poster announcing a Half-Life 3 release party "tomorrow," evidently as an April Fools' Day joke. This appears to confirm Newell's statement in February that most Half-Life 3 references by Valve were employees trolling fans.
- According to former writer for the series Marc Laidlaw in an interview released on July 19, the ending of Half-Life 2: Episode Three would have had no definite conclusion, and that he would have kept things open for future sequels and a new team to take over the reigns of the series. This appears to call back to claims that Gabe Newell made years prior, in which Episode Three would haven't have been the conclusion to the Half-Life series but rather the end of the story arc set up with Half-Life 2. During the interview when asked if Half-Life 3 would be released, Marc bluntly stated "no idea" and confirmed he wouldn't return to the company even in they were in active development.
- In the early hours of August 25, Marc Laidlaw abruptly released a document entitled "Epistle 3" on his website, which has been interpreted as a synopsis for the still-unreleased Half-Life 2: Episode Three, with character names and even genders changed to somewhat nonsensical yet obvious parallels to the original characters.
- The document is titled "Epistle 3," an obvious switch from "Episode 3"; Gordon Freeman becomes "Gertrude Fremont," Alyx Vance becomes "Alex Vaunt," Eli Vance becomes "Elly Vaunt," Judith Mossman becomes "Jerry Maas," Wallace Breen becomes "Wanda Bree," the G-Man becomes "Mrs. X," the Vortigaunts become "the Ghastlyhaunts," the Combine becomes "the Disparate," the Seven-Hour War becomes "The Nine Hour Armageddon," Aperture Science becomes "Tocsin Island Research Base," and the Borealis is referred to as its Beta name "Hyperborea."
- The plot describes the memorial service for Eli Vance and the Rebellion's subsequent decision to go to the coordinates described by Judith Mossman. Gordon and Alyx fly towards the Arctic but are downed before they reach it. While investigating Mossman's coordinates, already surrounded by a Combine installation, they discover the Borealis is actually phasing in and out of existence, and the coordinates were merely where Mossman expected it to next appear. They are then captured by followers of the late Wallace Breen, whose consciousness at an earlier time is revealed to have been uploaded into a slug (as Laidlaw's BreenGrub Twitter account related). The slug fears Gordon, knowing his original body's fate, but begs for a quick death––Breen's fate would have been left in the player's hands. They then find Mossman imprisoned by the Combine, where she and Alyx have a tense reunion as Alyx blames her for her father's death. They free Mossman and after a brief firefight managed to get the Borealis to stay in one place long enough for them to get onboard before it returns to jumping between universes. They then discover that Aperture Science had been using the Borealis to experiment on something called the "Bootstrap Device," which could emit a field large enough to teleport it instantaneously to anywhere. When the Combine invaded, the panicking scientists turned on the device, sending the Borealis to the Arctic without realizing the device could also teleport it through time and was not necessarily bound to one time or location. Thus the Borealis was stretched across time and space between the drydock and the Arctic. They are then left with the choice to run the Borealis aground in the Arctic so it could be studied, or to destroy it with all hands on board, hopefully stopping the next Combine invasion. Mossman argues for the former so it can help the resistance, but Alyx swears by her father's final command to destroy the ship. In an ensuing struggle, Mossman gets the upper-hand and prepares to ground the Borealis but is killed by Alyx, who with Gordon turns the Borealis into a time-travelling missile heading straight for the Combine's command center. The G-Man then appears to Alyx, who recognizes him from her childhood, and leads her away, leaving Gordon stuck on the Borealis. Seeing the Borealis's destination, Gordon grimly realizes that the ship will do little if anything to stop the Combine, and that his death will essentially be in vain. Before the ship can collide, the Vortigaunts appear and quickly rescue Freeman. Freeman later awakens on a beach at some uncertain point in the distant future, where he notices the terrain has changed. It is then left ambiguous whether or not humanity succeeded in defeating the Combine, although Freeman realizes that those he once knew are long gone.
- Laidlaw refers to the synopsis as "fanfic," specifically "a genderswapped snapshot of a dream I had many years ago." He has stressed that the document merely describes ideas that would have been expanded upon or even changed over time (citing a number of examples, including a more ambiguous fate for Mossman and a possible ending where Freeman found himself back at Black Mesa at the beginning of the original Half-Life), and that whatever Epistle 3 represents does not necessarily equal a canon ending to the Half-Life saga.
- On August 27, 2017, while doing a follow-up report on Laidlaw's release of Epistle 3, Tyler McVicker of Valve News Network revealed that while inspecting the dates on the leaked Episode One and Two maps from spring of that year, he and modder Jackathan discovered that some of the content were actually test maps and weapons that were worked on right up until 2014: while earlier maps were likely leftover from Episode Three's development, some came after Newell's 2011 statement that Valve was done with the episodic model, thus they were likely from the development of the highly speculative Half-Life 3, which was at the very least still in development in 2014. McVicker and Jackathan released an accompanying mod, titled "Half-Life 2: Aftermath," which makes the leaked maps and some of the lost Half-Life 2: Episode Three entities playable.
- October 10, 2017 marked ten years since the release of The Orange Box and Half-Life 2: Episode Two itself. Although Valve did reflect upon The Orange Box, nothing about another Half-Life game was brought up despite it being a decade since the last game.
- On the weekend of February 15th-19th, the Lunar New Year, year of the Dog Steam sale included images of dogs from video games, and included Dog from Half-Life 2.
- On February 22, a Half-Life pack was announced for the Steam version of Final Fantasy XV. Gordon Freeman's HEV suit, glasses, and crowbar would be available in the game to people who pre-order.
- In the video for the announcement, Final Fantasy XV director Hajime Tabata was wearing a headcrab hat, and he said "the HALF-LIFE team at Valve sent it to him" this might mean that there is still a HALF-LIFE team at Valve.
- On June 13th, many lines of code referring to Vortigaunts, VR pistols, Xen, zombies, Physguns, and HLVR were leaked from a Dota 2 and SteamVR update.
- On July 12th, lines of code were leaked from SteamVR. These lines refer to dust motes, Xen particulate, snow particles, and Xen spores.
- On November 10, Tyler McVicker of Valve News Network reported some updates on HLVR based on further leaks: it is planned to be a single-player narrative first-person shooter, most likely the first of its kind in VR games; it will most likely be released when Valve's new in-development VR headset is finished, following Nintendo's model of pairing games with new hardware; and the final leak, which was confirmed with three other unnamed sources, suggests HLVR will be a prequel to Half-Life 2.
- On June 14, Tyler McVicker of Valve News Network reports of further HLVR leaks, and notes the leaks suggest the project has entered crunch time.
- On November 18, 12 years after the release of Half-Life 2: Episode Two and the day before the 21st anniversary of the release of the original Half-Life, Valve announces Half-Life: Alyx, the flagship VR title, on their Twitter account.
- November 21 saw the release of the official reveal trailer for Half-Life: Alyx, scheduled for release in March 2020. Simultaneously, pre-orders for the game opened, a re-design of the official Half-Life website was released, and a video featuring Geoff Keighley was uploaded on the Video Game Awards YouTube channel revealing that he would be writing The Final Hours of Half-Life: Alyx, covering the history of development on the Half-Life series following the release of Episode Two. 
- In an accompanying interview, Valve's Robin Walker explained that at the time development began in 2016 on what eventually became Half-Life: Alyx, the company had seriously considered making Half-Life 3 many times and had even experimented with a few gaming concepts. However, the prospect of creating such a hotly anticipated game proved "terrifyingly daunting" for the developers, but the innovation of creating a full VR title that did not have the infamy attached to it like Half-Life 3 was creatively exciting. Walker and his fellow employees remained coy on the subject of whether Half-Life: Alyx could bridge the gap towards a VR-based Half-Life 3, noting they would have to see how Half-Life: Alyx was received.
- On March 3rd, IGN reveals the first direct-feed gameplay of an early stage of Half-Life Alyx, as part of the "IGN First" program.
- On March 23rd, 2020, Half-Life: Alyx releases on Steam, making it the first official Half-Life installment in twelve years.
- In an interview published the day of Half-Life: Alyx's release, Robin Walker fully explained what had happened with Half-Life 2: Episode Three and the status of the near-mythical Half-Life 3. Essentially, the Half-Life 2 episodes were intended to solve the issue of length between Half-Life games, but when it came time for the conclusion of the episodic trilogy the team could not figure out a sufficiently spectacular final game that captured the emotion they associated with the Half-Life series, and that the solution would be to create a much larger next installment rather than Episode Three. However, while multiple attempts were made to create this next project, none got very far in development and most never made it to the public except for Laidlaw's Epistle 3, which Walker noted was closer to several ideas Laidlaw had floating around in his head than necessarily what Episode Three would have been.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 PC Gamer, May 2006
- ↑ 2.0 2.1
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 "Half-Life: Alyx is officially coming March 2020, and here’s your first look" on The Verge
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 The Valve manifesto at Develop
- ↑ 5.0 5.1
- ↑ 6.0 6.1
- ↑ 7.0 7.1
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 The Final Hours of Half-Life: Alyx -- Behind Closed Doors at Valve on YouTube
- ↑ Whois Record For Half-Life3.com
- ↑ Half-Life 2: Episode One gold, Two dated, Three announced on GameSpot
- ↑ RPS Interview: Episode Two’s David Speyrer on Rock, Paper, Shotgun
- ↑ 15.0 15.1 15.2 The first concept art from Half-Life 2: Episode Three on GamesRadar
- ↑ Half-Life 3 on StuffWeLike.com
- ↑ HL2: Episode Three Concept Art Leaked [UPDATED] on LambdaGeneration
- ↑ Tony Sergi answer on the Steam Users' Forums
- ↑ 2008 contest winners at Into the Pixel
- ↑ 21.0 21.1 Interview: Valve's Doug Lombardi on Video Games Daily
- ↑ FAKE Episode 3 Maps for Half-Life2: Ep2 on Mod DB
- ↑ Left 4 Dead 2 Game Add-on #1 at the Steam News
- ↑ 25.0 25.1
- ↑ 26.0 26.1 Message to Valve on the Steam Users' Forums
- ↑ Steamcast Episode #9: "Exclusive interview with Gabe Newell"
- ↑ Gabe Newell: Next Half-Life needs to scare on ComputerAndVideoGames.com [dead link, archived here]
- ↑ Portal Patch Adds Morse Code, Achievement - Portal 2 Speculation Begins on Shacknews
- ↑ Gabe Newell: Next Half-Life won't change Gordon Freeman on ComputerAndVideoGames.com [dead link, archived here]
- ↑ Half Life 2: Episode 3 found in the Alien Swarm SDK! on the Steam Users' Forums
- ↑ How Valve will change PS3 on ComputerAndVideoGames.com [dead link, archived here]
- ↑ 'When is Half-Life 2: Episode 3 coming out?' 'What? Sorry, we can't hear you...' at News.com.au
- ↑ Valve Software 2011 Video Interview at AusGamers.com
- ↑ Newell: Valve to Replace Single-Player With "Single-Player Plus" at The Escapist
- ↑ When is Half-Life Episode 3 Coming? You Know the Answer at 1UP
- ↑ Fans picketing outside of Valve’s office for HL3 at Halflife2.net
- ↑ Day 2 of the Valve protest - Still holding strong. on Reddit
- ↑ What Did Gabe Newell Say to the Half-Life 3 Protesters? on Kotaku
- ↑ Half Life 2: Episode 3 Same Old Story at Attack of the Fanboy
- ↑ Chet Faliszek's reaction to the rumors and the ARG on the Steam Users' Forums
- ↑ Half-Life 3 T-Shirt Confirmed, But That is All on Kotaku
- ↑ Valve voice actor working on "Half Life: Episode 3" at Xbox 360 - The Official Magazine
- ↑ STEAM HOLIDAY SALE - DAY FIVE at the Steam News
- ↑ Ellen gets nominated for a VGA award, Part 3: Into the belly of the beast. at John Patrick Lowrie's Blog
- ↑ Prediction: Half-Life 3 Will Be Unveiled in 2012 at IGN
- ↑ Aftermath: Invite Party -- 17,500 current members at "A Call for Communication (Half-Life)" on Steam
- ↑ 64.0 64.1 64.2
- ↑ Let's Play Half-Life 2! - Event at "A Call for Communication (Half-Life)" on Steam
- ↑ Newell Updates Interviewer On The Status of (Wink, Wink) 'Ricochet 2' on Kotaku
- ↑ - "sss thss n?"
- ↑ Half-Life writer Marc Laidlaw goes back to Breen with fanfiction Twitter account on PCGamesN
- ↑ CLANG by Subutai Corporation on Kickstarter
- ↑ Valve by GTTV on SPIKE.com mirrored clip link for restricted regions
- ↑ Star Trek's JJ Abrams and Valve's Gabe Newell - Full Keynote Speech - D.I.C.E. SUMMIT 2013 on YouTube
- ↑ Valve's voice actor: HL3 not in dev for several reasons; insufficient Mo-Cap tech on NeoGAF
- ↑ Linked comment by John Patrick Lowrie on John Patrick Lowrie's Blog
- ↑ MyGuitarIsOnFire comments on I got a tour at VALVe! AMA on reddit
- ↑ Valve files trademark for... on NeoGAF
- ↑ Gabe Newell on what makes Valve tick on The Washington Post
- ↑ Minh "Gooseman" Le Interview - The Creator of Counter-Strike by goRGNtv on Twitch
- ↑ Source 2 announced, SteamVR, Steam Link and more at GDC on Valve's Official Website
- ↑ Dota 2 - Reborn Beta
- ↑ Kotaku - "Yep, Valve Is Experimenting With Half-Life In VR." March 5, 2015.
- ↑ #1: Gabe Newell and Erik Johnson from Valve (at ~39:30) on GameSlice
- ↑ 87.0 87.1 87.2 Valve News Network. "Everything Known About Half Live: VR." YouTube. October 9, 2016.
- ↑ Marc Laidlaw responds to fan, confirming that The Know's Rumor was FALSE by hitalec on reddit
- ↑ Half Life 3 WILL Release, Here's Why
- ↑ Valve: Half-Life VR Would 'fatigue' Players in 5 Minutes on VRFocus
- ↑ Steam Helpdesk Site: Lots of upcoming games maybe leak, slowly getting confirmed on NeoGAF
- ↑ J.J. Abrams: Portal, Half-Life movies still happening on IGN
- ↑ https://www.gameinformer.com/b/features/archive/2017/01/11/searching-for-half-life-3.aspx
- ↑ Gabe Newell answers on Reddit - Yep.
- ↑ Gabe Newell answers on Reddit - Yep. They're coming.
- ↑ Gabe Newell answers on Reddit - [...]There's no information in my response about what we'll do in the future.[...]
- ↑ Gabe Newell answers on Reddit - [...] Tracking our choices would be annoying and frustrating.
- ↑ Gabe Newell answers on Reddit - The number 3 must not be said. Yes. I personally believe all unidentified anonymous sources on the Internet.[...]
- ↑ 'It's hard to believe we've heard the last from the Combine,' says the voice of Half-Life's G-Man on PC Gamer
- ↑ , 15 minutes in
- ↑ April Fools: Valve Announces Half-Life 3 Release Party on GameRant
- ↑ Half-Life 3 would likely have ended without resolution, says Marc Laidlaw on PC Gamer
- ↑ Epistle 3 on Marc Laidlaw's Blog
- ↑ Valve reflects on The Orange Box, ten years later on PC Gamer
- ↑ https://kotaku.com/why-valve-gave-up-on-multiple-half-life-3s-1842450268