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The Wasteland,[1] also known as The Wild[1] or The Scrapland,[1] is the area surrounding City 17, both being the two main locations of Half-Life 2.


The Wasteland is a hazardous region, infested with Xen wildlife such as Headcrabs, Barnacles, and Leeches, as well as Antlions, although Earth creatures such as birds, frogs, rats, and insects can still be found in most parts. It is littered with car wrecks, shipwrecks, and submarine wrecks along the Coast, destroyed buildings and roads (such as Highway 17), and other scenes of desolation. The only infrastructure that is maintained is the railway, which is used by the Combine to link their outposts together and to transport Combine troops, Stalkers, and Citizens via the Wasteland Train.[1] Several Resistance outposts can also be found, mostly in the Canals and along the Coast.


Half-Life 2

Barren wasteland desert in an unknown location.

Although Gordon does not visit the Wasteland before leaving the City 17 parts of the Canals, part of it can be first spotted during the teleportation failure caused by Lamarr in the second chapter, "A Red Letter Day". A sandy, desolate and barren desert landscape with a wrecked car, a headframe, rocks, and a crow (that Lamarr attacks) are seen during a few seconds, among the other places quickly visited before Gordon is freed by the teleport.


Ravenholm's church.

The main Wasteland locations are:

Half-Life 2 episodes

The Outlands is a coniferous region of the wasteland, with devasted human settlements such as residences, farms, mines and werehouses. It is connected by a highway and train tracks.

Behind the scenes

Concept art of the Wasteland around City 17, with wrecks and cracks in the ground.

  • The several names for the Wasteland are actually never given in-game but are in Raising the Bar. Furthermore, a model folder found in the game files is named "props_wasteland". It contains props found along the Coast or Ravenholm, among others.
  • The area around City 17 has changed much since the first drafts of the storyline and was to be much more desolate than in the retail version,[1][2] since the flora is still present in the game, three kinds of birds can be seen, insects and frogs can be heard in the Canals, and the train that brought Gordon to City 17 is mentioned to have stopped "in the woods" before reaching City 17. At one point, the Wasteland was to be a vast scrapland full of junked military machines. Another version was a completely dried seafloor, with the ocean draining away into a vast teleport "drain" and the seafloor full of beached ships and whale bones,[1] recalling the real world Aral Sea (since the Aral Sea is set in Central Asia, near Eastern Europe, it is likely the developers drew inspiration from it). While the oceans are still abnormally low in the retail version, there is no in-game explanation for it. These old concepts survived in the Coast levels.
  • It was also to be filled with a much more diverse range of Xen creatures, such as Bullsquids, Houndeyes, Gargantuas, other undefined alien fauna, and a Synth Scanner specific to the area, the Wasteland Scanner.[1][2] The sea level was also to be even lower and Particle Storms were to be found in the area.[3]

Railway along the dried seafloor.

  • Old concepts show that Gordon Freeman was originally to see the Wasteland for the first time when the train he was brought out of stasis on was carrying him to City 17. On the train he was to encounter Samuel, a Citizen telling him some bits of information about his life and giving him some hints about what is going on. He was also to give him a spare gas mask, as the air was not always breathable because of the Air Exchange activity. Another nearby train was also to be seen being attacked by a Gargantua, but the monster was to be destroyed by the heavy engine, hinting that the train was to be a Razor Train and not a regular Earth passenger train which probably couldn't face a Gargantua attack. Then the Wasteland Train was to proceed inside the city, first through the Old City, which was almost all ruined, and then New City, the Combine-converted city, surrounded by huge concrete walls protecting it from the Wasteland hazards (it does not seem to be present everywhere in the final version, although some sort of wall can be seen at the end of Episode One[4]). Creatures were to be seen killing themselves on the barricades while trying to get in. Gordon was also to glimpse Citizens in their apartments. The train was at last to arrive at the station, and Cremators were to be seen cleaning around the train from Bullsquids or Headcrabs that managed to get inside the perimeter.[1][2]
  • Like in the final version, Gordon was to go into the Wasteland itself while leaving City 17 through the Canals, instead of skipping it to reach Kraken Base through teleportation. There he was to go through Quarrytown at the end of the Canals, then meet with Eli Maxwell in his den, and finally reach the desert through Antlion caves, and start his journey to the Air Exchange. During this journey, Freeman was to travel parallel to the Wasteland Train, a key theme of the game, tying all its environments together, transporting mysterious cargo from the city to outlying facilities. Along the tracks were to be numerous depots where the train would stop, refuel, unload, or take on cargo. One of these depots would later be expanded and merged with the AirEx to give way to the Nova Prospekt chapters, where the signal to begin the Uprising would be given.[1][2]

Concept art for the Depot.

  • While Raising the Bar gives general information about the original journey through the Wasteland, the WC mappack gives deeper insight on the subject, with several maps featuring larger locations. Between these maps are several desert areas, with more Antlions and always the train tracks. Maps range from the very start of the game's development to much more recent maps, and thus do not follow a coherent storyline. Of note is they are all set during daytime, the dusk not coming before the AirEx, and that the actual sea is not as present as in the final game. Out of the oldest maps, the most prominent include:
  • "wasteland_railbridge.vmf", last edited September 2001, apparently the first map set after the Antlion caves following Eli Maxwell's den. It contains small buildings surrounding a bridge and guarded by Overwatch Soldiers, that will give way to Bridge Point in the final game. There the train apparently merely passes by, and Gordon proceeds on foot after journeying on the underside of the bridge. This is not a depot, since the train does not stop - the facility does not allow it. The plow of the Razor Train engine is covered with blood, illustrating its use given in Raising the Bar, thus to shear through herds of whatever creature might stray across the tracks or try to take the train head-on.[2]
  • The map "wasteland_depot.vmf", last edited August 2001, apparently follows. Apparently one of the depots to be seen during the journey and a predecessor for the main Depot (as several parts were recycled later), it consists of a small trainstation set on the desert ground, with small hangars, a control room and a platform around a single track linking City 17 to the AirEx, and it is guarded by Overwatch Soldiers and Stalkers, as well as a Cremator on the train platform. Gordon was to reach the area on foot and see soldiers battling Antlions on the sand before the depot. Then he was to get inside the facility through a small Antlion-filled tunnel (as the main gate is closed), to finally reach the platform and embark the train after his journey apparently on foot.[2]

Concept art based on a screenshot of "wasteland_railbridge.vmf".

  • The main Depot can be found in the map "wasteland_depot_outside.vmf" (last edited November 2001). This larger facility is set on a cliff above the desert, with a large indoor (and brush) depot, a small prison next to it, a lighthouse overlooking the beach, and the train tracks mounted high above the ground. There Gordon was to get inside the lighthouse, defeat a Gunship from the top of it (recycled for Lighthouse Point), then get inside the facility through the lighthouse basement, after which he would be in the prison courtyard, and get in the Depot itself through a garage door. This map was later modernized to give way to the map "d2_depot_01", featuring a larger prison, then "e3_depot", without the prison but with a battle between Overwatch Soldiers and an Antlion Guard at the start of the map, several Thumpers set along the sand, and the wreck of a submarine.[2]
  • What directly follows "wasteland_depot_outside.vmf" is the map "wasteland_depot_inside.vmf" (last edited January 2002), set inside the Depot and starting right after the garage door. Inside are trains stored above one another, and distributed with elevators inside the Depot or on the tracks, from which they can leave. There Gordon was to fight his way through the facility, avoid several Overwatch Soldiers, Stalkers and an Overwatch Sniper in a large hangar located below, then finally board a train in the hangar, have it lifted with an elevator inside the Depot above, then leave in it to the Air Exchange,[2] to finally meet with Alyx in another depot located right before the AirEx.[1] Of course, it does not include any Combine teleport, not part of the story at that point.
  • Another map, "zombie_town02.vmf" (last edited July 2001), consists of an early Ravenholm set in the typical early Wasteland. It features a desert town full of Zombies and overrun by sand, in a style reminiscent of the ghost towns found in the desert areas of the United States.[2]
  • After that was to be the Air Exchange, the original main chapter of the Wasteland/Coast levels and the last one before the Arctic chapters, later merged with the Depot to give way to Nova Prospekt. At some point, it was to be reached by train, later by foot.[1][2]



Concept art



List of appearances


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See also

External links