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- "The Combine tried heading in the front door. I think they learned their lesson."
White Forest is a Resistance base located in the Outlands, north of City 17, used by the Resistance to build a rocket intended to shut off the Combine Superportal. It covers the last chapters of Episode Two, Our Mutual Fiend and T-Minus One. Reaching the base is the first main goal of the game.
The base is in an aging Cold War base bought very cheap by Black Mesa to develop some projects in response to budgetary and oversight problems associated with basing all work in North America. Most of the facilities are underground, but there are several bunker-like structures, a hangar, and a radio tower at surface level. White Forest, by generators, seems to be self-sufficient. It contains two silos, Silo 1 and the (mostly abandoned) Silo 2, designed to house intercontinental ballistic missiles.
The silos have an alarm system that is triggered by movement. False alarms in the decrepit Silo 2 are often triggered by nesting crows, and the structure suffers from the same decay as most of the Half-Life series' architecture.
While the silos are for research (mostly closing the Superportal with the rocket, the only known use), the storage areas are used for storing supplies such as food and ammo and used as barracks for the Resistance personnel.
Certain areas of the base are above ground. These include the south and north gates, linked by a large hangar for vehicles. The north entrance has a gate that can only open with a valve and a watchtower. This area is walled off aside from the gate. A radar station is above. The north entrance connects to a valley featuring buildings of all sizes for lumbering.
The research that takes place at White Forest is led by Dr. Arne Magnusson, one of the surviving Black Mesa Science Team members. Uriah, a Vortigaunt, is his research assistant. The subjects researched by White Forest include portals and stopping them, Superportals, and rocketry. White Forest's research plays a key role in stopping the Combine from overwhelming Earth with armies through a Superportal like they did during the Seven Hour War.
In addition to Magnusson and Uriah, many Rebels of note are stationed at White Forest. One is MIRT, a mechanical handyman for the Resistance, and another is Sweepy, a Vortigaunt janitor. Among the other Rebels, some are armed with Rebel attire developed during the City 17 uprising and use firearms, while others are still in simple Citizen attire, and help with non-military tasks.
Main hangar and surroundings
This is the main hangar where Alyx and Gordon are greeted by MIRT. This is also where the AR3 dispute occurs, where MIRT upgrades the Muscle Car, and where Gordon is acclaimed after the battle in the valley. It features two main gates and two smaller doors. The first door on the right when coming from the southern gate leads to the Strider courtyard; the main door on the right leads to the silo complex, also connected to the Strider courtyard.
Leads to a narrow valley. Features small bunkers with Rebels running around, then a secondary gate, then a path reaching down to a stream. This is where Gordon, Alyx, and Dog arrive with the Muscle Car. Rebels patrol the area with RPGs, MP7s and OSIPRs.
Leads to a large valley where the battle against Striders and Hunters occurs. Rebels also patrol the area with the same weapons as at the southern gate.
After the main door on the right when coming from the southern gate, a corridor connects to two doors, left and right. There a sign written in Cyrillic can be found, pointing to reversal underground locations: on the left after Silo 1 can be found П-07, featuring the Машинный Отсек and Насосная Станция (engine room and pump station) (identified as П-03, located underground), as well as the Кладовка and Аварийный Бункер (pantry and emergency bunker) (identified as П-04, accessed from П-03). On the right, after many rooms located on the ground floor, can be found П-05: Пункт Связи and Склад (communication room and storage area) and П-06: Аварийный Выход and Шахта (emergency exit and silo, or Silo 2). П-05 is located right after and leads to П-03, also found if taking left in the corridor.
Silo 1 access unit
- The first location to be found by taking left is Silo 1's access unit, where the duo reunites with Eli. MIRT mention the room's name.
- A door then gives access to level 1 of Silo 1 (underground).
The door on the right leads to a four-door junction. The first one the right leads to a small courtyard where Gordon is taught how to use the Magnusson Device against a dead Strider installed on tracks. However when seeing the southern gate from the outside, there is no room for that courtyard in the same location.
Magnusson Device storage room
Beyond the netted door in the middle are stored the Magnusson Device and their teleport, manned by several Rebels. After the valley battle, what may be Sweepy is seen there. To the right of the door is also a case where a Magnusson Device is stored.
The door on the left leads to another corridor. The first door leads to an office from which Magnusson oversees the rocket launch, with two Rebels.
On the left in the corridor can be found a lounge where Judith's transmission is watched, on six large screens. There can be seen several items salvaged from the past: Kleiner's picture of the Black Mesa scientists, his cactus, Eli's picture of him and his family, as well as an HEV plate from Black Mesa hidden behind crates, also found in Black Mesa East. There is also a smaller adjacent staff room that may function as a kitchen since Alyx brings a cup of tea to Eli from there.
Rocket control room elevator
Taking right in the corridor leads to another junction. The door on the left directly leads to Silo D, in П-06, while the door straight ahead conducts to an elevator leading to the rocket control room.
A large valley, considered as part of the White Forest compound, is accessed through the northern gate and is overlooked by the base's large radio tower, standing next to Silo 1's hatch. This is where the battle against the Striders and Hunters occur.
The valley features five wooden lumberjack buildings in a rather good condition (three important ones, and two smaller, red ones) that may be damaged by the Striders if Gordon does not protect them, as well as two cranes and a water tank. Each building contains a Magnusson Device teleport, as well as numerous supplies. The area is a typical outland area and is partially traversed by a small railway section connected to two sealed off tunnels. Each of these seven locations is used by MIRT, who oversees the battle, to inform the Rebels on the battlefield of the Strider progression.
First found when taking right, the lodge is made of two buildings, one of which cannot be accessed.
The water tower
The water tower is located after the lodge.
What follows is the sawmill, the first rendezvous point for Gordon before the battle starts. It is located right beside one of the two railway tunnels.
These two rusty cranes, also found along the Coast are merely landmark indications for the Strider progression, like the water tower. Pieces of lumber hang from them.
The smallest of the main buildings, the cabin was apparently inhabited in the past, and has an open fire in the middle. The path then leads to the other end of the railway, then back to White Forest.
Silo 1 is reached through a diagonal elevator. Along its rails are stairs restricted to the player, and an access to П-03 and П-04. П-03 and П-04 are rather far from there, although unknown corridors may actually link them.
Right under the ground floor, this is where Magnusson is first met and where Kleiner and Lamarr are first seen in the game. The rocket nose is there, under the hatch connected to the outside, at ground level.
Is accessed through a ladder from Level 1. An elevator that goes below.
There a Rebel is seen pulling a computer station.
No access from the elevator. It is unknown if it even exists.
- The bottom floor of Silo 1. This is where Sweepy is first seen. What follows is a small office where Uriah is first met. The Lost Easter egg is also found there, behind a large tank.
According to a Cyrillic sign, the following corridor is supposed to be the start of the Аварийный Бункер, or emergency bunker, while it is clearly given as П-04, to be featured beyond that point. Then comes a junction (the sign П-07 suggest we now enter a П-07 with subsections). According to the Cyrillic sign found there, a closed door on the right supposedly leads to П-03 and П-04: Машинный Отсек and Насосная Станция (engine room and pump station) and Кладовка and Аварийный Бункер (pantry and emergency bunker), respectively, while they are found later when taking left. On the left, a corridor leads to presumably the foot the Silo 2, but the way is shut when a Hunter appears.
- A large chamber resembling an "8" can be accessed through a small maintenance tunnel, where Hunters are met. A shut door gives access to Silo 1, while a corridor continues to Silo 2. There can be found a shut door to П-01 and П-02, while the corridor continues to П-03 and П-04.
П-03 - Машинный Отсек and Насосная Станция (engine room and pump station)
- П-03 is part of the corridor, and has a "21" on the wall, and is also presumably the flooded room, as it is to be the engine room and pump station. It is also seen to be accessed from before the "8"-like chamber and from Silo 1.
П-04 - Кладовка and Аварийный Бункер (pantry and emergency bunker)
- A shut door in П-03 logically leads to П-04. It is also seen to be accessed from before the "8"-like chamber and from Silo 1. It is probably to be used when a rocket launch fails, or for any other emergency.
П-05 - Пункт Связи and Склад (communication room and storage area)
- Then follows П-05, a corridor turning along two storage rooms. It is not announced on any of the previous signs of the area, although it is clearly given on the ground floor as the communication room and storage area. While the area looks like a storage area, nothing recalling a communication room can be found.
П-06 - Аварийный Выход and Шахта (emergency exit and silo)
- П-06 is right after. Stairs lead to the expected emergency exit, presumably to be used to leave the facility in case of danger such as a rocket launch accident, but have collapsed. Right before that, a corridor is supposed to lead to the lowest level of Silo 2, level 5, but the ceiling has collapsed. The collapsed floor under the collapsed stairs reveals a small flooded also leading to level 5 of Silo 2.
According to the sign, Silo 2 is part of П-06.
- Appears to be slightly higher from the ground floor than Silo 1's first level.
- Contains a small control room where the Silo's hatch can be sealed. The invading Combine have installed there an Emplacement Gun.
- Connects to ground level and leads back to the corridor where the journey started.
Leads to Level 1 via stairs.
Leads to Level 2 via a ladder.
Leads to Level 3 via a ladder.
Leads to Level 4 via a ladder. Partially flooded.
Rocket control room
- The rocket control room overlooks Silo 1's hatch and the antenna standing near Silo 1's hatch, which are halfway between the control room and the ground floor. It is accessed via an elevator starting on the ground floor near Silo 2's access.
Mil Mi-8 hangar
- A door from the rocket control room leads to a large hangar where the Mil Mi-8 is waiting for Gordon and Alyx, and where Eli is killed by Advisors. In front of the hangar, a landing pad can be found.
Arne Magnusson had been operating a Resistance base at White Forest for an unknown amount of time before Gordon's arrival. In the years before the City 17 uprising, the White Forest personnel built an operable rocket in an old missile silo, with plans to launch it and use it to dissolve a Combine Superportal should a revolution take place. After arriving at the base, Isaac Kleiner and Eli Vance helped with the research as well.
When Eli and Kleiner are seen during the monitor transmission at the start of the game, they are likely already at White Forest.
Soon after the uprising in nearby City 17 and the Citadel meltdown that follows, the Combine grow aware of the threat posed by White Forest and begin taking measures to destroy it. They first try to terminate Alyx Vance and Gordon Freeman, who are taking vital information about the Combine to the base, but fail when the couple is able to reach White Forest safely after driving through the Outlands.
The Combine make another attempt; This time at White Forest Inn. The duo is ambushed by Combine forces, but Alyx and Gordon are able to escape after shutting down the Energy Barrier that had trapped them.
After Gordon and Alyx reach White Forest, the Combine try to halt the advances of the Resistance once more by breaching the base's secondary silo. While this sets off the alarm, the staff at first think it is merely crows nesting. While the others prepare the data packed for viewing, Freeman is sent to the silo to investigate, until it appears that a real Combine invasion of the base is occurring. The Combine forces include Hunters, Overwatch Elites, Overwatch Soldiers, and Manhacks; an Emplacement Gun has also been installed in the silo. When Freeman successfully closes the silo doors and ends the Combines assault, Kleiner, Eli and Alyx Vance, and Freeman himself watch the data package, to realize Judith Mossman has found the Borealis, an Aperture Science vessel lost years prior, that the Combine has not yet located.
As more Combine are arriving to attack White Forest, a final battle is to occur before the rocket launch. A single Strider is enough to destroy the rocket, so all Striders must be defeated. Freeman is trained in the use of the Magnusson Device, a powerful bomb deadly to Striders. He is then sent on the field with his Muscle Car and fights Striders and Hunters with assistance from the White Forest Rebels, and finally defeats them all thanks to the Magnusson Devices, halting the Combine efforts once more and saving the rocket. Afterwards, Freeman gets back inside, the rocket is launched, and the Superportal is successfully closed.
Soon after, Alyx and Gordon get ready to leave for the Borealis and rescue Mossman. As they walk with Eli to the hangar where the helicopter they will use is waiting, two Advisors appear and one of them kills Eli. Dog then suddenly appears to defend them, and fights off the Advisors, as Alyx mourns over her father's dead body. The screen then silently fades to black and the credits for Episode Two roll.
Inside the hangar, Gordon is woken up by Eli and is told that The G-Man has taken Alyx away. Dog arrives with the crowbar, wich Eli hands over to Gordon with the phrase "We've got work to do".
Behind the scenes
- White Forest is apparently based on one of the many abandoned Cold War bases located in Belarus and Ukraine. Textures, layouts, and signs were apparently reused with only a few changes.
- According to Doug Wood, the team intended White Forest to offer a change of pace from the constant action that preceded it - a few moments to reunite with old friends and get to know Magnusson, a breather before the big battle ahead. However, their first version of the sequence was an accumulation of long scenes with a lot of dialogue. Gordon and Alyx stood around listening to Kleiner and Magnusson argue at the top of the rocket silo, then rode an elevator to the bottom of the shaft while Kleiner lectured them about rockets and satellites. They wandered into a control room / lounge to watch Mossman's transmission and then hatched a plan to get her back. The team understood there was a problem when even the authors of the scene were bored, and no one had the patience for the revelations that followed. So the sequence was divided into a number of smaller pieces that could be interleaved with solitary exploration and some combat. This required rebuilding the path and moving the control room upstairs, where the transmission scene became a reward for surviving the secondary silo part. Wood concludes that as a result of these changes, the White Forest experience is more varied, the narrative comes in digestible portions, and players are able to play at their own speed, rather than being led by the nose the entire time. In the Episode Two trailer released August 2006, the control room is still downstairs, and appears slightly different, and apparently with a direct view of the rocket silo. Furthermore, the elevator along the silo is still used in the final game, but by Gordon alone.
- In early Episode Two drafts, Eli and Kleiner had somehow warmed up White Forest all by themselves in the brief time after fleeing City 17. This seemed ridiculous for the team, so they developed the backstory of Black Mesa having bought the base before and created Magnusson, justifying all the work already done and the high amount of installations present when White Forest is first visited by Gordon. However, these backstory details slowed down the game and were subsequently removed.
- Matt Scott stated about the scene during which the characters reunite in the rocket silo that the team found that the actors were constantly pushing the player around in order to get to their marks, due to the number of characters involved in the scene and the cramped spaces. So they developed scripts that allow the actors to gauge the position of the player and the other actors, and choose among a selection of marks. This solves the congestion problem and makes a scene feel more dynamic.
- According to Matt Wright, the team designed Magnusson's rocket around blueprints from the Titan family of missiles instead of just making up something that fit their fantasies of a rocket. He adds that grounding the details of their world in reality, making them as precise as possible, makes the invented, fantastic elements seem that much more believable.
- According to Kelly Bailey, the steam jet met at the foot of the rocket is an example of something the team calls a 'mechanic refresher'. It is meant to refresh the player's memory on how to perform a certain task they may not have used in a while. In this case, the team reminds the player about using valves to turn off steam in a relaxed environment. In the map just ahead, this trick will be fresh in their mind and they will be far more likely to realize they can use steam jets tactically when they encounter them in a combat situation.
- According to Matt T. Wood, one of the team's main goals for the Hunter was to make the player feel vulnerable wherever hiding or not. The Hunter arena before the secondary silo became their testbed for improving the Hunters' close-combat behavior. A classic combat space, featuring multiple exits and many possible paths, the team tuned it for a strong cat-and-mouse gameplay experience. While players have many options for escape, the map is designed so that Hunters will never completely lose them - but always be able to pursue and flush the player out of hiding.
- According to Richard Lord, the diagram explaining how to use the Magnusson Device against Striders went through several iterations, from highly stylized, to absurd, to something the team believed they could ship.
- According to John Guthrie, the massive Strider battle was in production longer than any other map in Episode Two. Tuning it required many, many months of testing and iteration to address playtest feedback, and this was complicated by the fact that every time the team playtested, they saw individuals adopt completely different approaches to defeating the Striders. Some threw logs at Hunters; others relied on their Rebel companions to kill them. Some players never sprinted, while others never used the car. They tried to keep supporting all the different strategies that occurred to players so that their experiments with tactics would be rewarding rather than frustrating. Meanwhile, they had to make sure the Strider and Hunter behaviors were consistent, and balance the experience so that it would be a satisfying game experience for all different play styles at every skill level.
- As seen in the Episode Two Gameplay Demo 5 released September 2006 and several early screenshots, the Strider battle was also to feature Overwatch Soldiers and Elites.
- As seen in the first Episode Two teaser released with Episode One, the second teaser released July 2006, the trailer released August 2006, and several early screenshots, the Strider battle valley was to include at least two concrete bunkers. Freeman was to be chased inside one by a Hunter. They were partially kept as the main White Forest outdoor bunkers, in which no part of the final battle occurs.
- According to Jon Huisingh, the team wanted players to use the Muscle Car as much as possible, both to move around the valley quickly and to run over Hunters as a quick and satisfying way of killing them. To encourage this, and to help with orientation problems, the team added a radar to the car which indicated the location of enemies. This made the car a more valuable tool in the battle and solved the navigation problem once and for all.
- According to Ido Magal, one problem the team faced in the Strider battle map was that players would abandon their car in the heat of battle and were not be able to find it later. Given the time pressure and large scale of the map, some of these players could not succeed in protecting the base on foot. To address this they started by adding flashing hazard lights to the car, which helped when the car was in view, but they still saw players lose the car among the trees or behind hills. Eventually they added a vehicle locator to the HEV Suit so that players could find the car wherever it was.
- According to Chris Chin, a great deal of work went into making sure players see the buildings get destroyed as they travel around the valley during the final battle. While the team cannot (and does not wish to) force the player to see these events, they tried to increase the odds that the player would end up in the best possible position for the show. Measures ranged from simply hiding a Strider behind rocks, to setting up complex logic conditions that must be met in order for the destruction to occur.
- According to Joe Han, players under pressure can overlook basic tasks, so they try to make the important ones foolproof. On the Strider battle map, players often forget to check their health level, but rarely forget to seek out Magnusson Devices. They narrowed doorways and set health supply racks right by the entries, so that players rushing in to get explosives would find themselves automatically picking up vital supplies.
- According to Tom Leonard, the Hunter's escort behavior includes specific formations and flanking strategies. The Strider battle valley environment was designed specifically to enhance those behaviors by providing cover and visually interesting paths. In this way the environment reinforces the design of the Hunter as stealthy, aggressive, and intelligent.
- At the end of the Episode Two trailer, Kleiner can be seen in a humorous situation in the rocket silo at White Forest, saying "Mmhh... Now, that's interesting! I think we're getting somewhere!", then screaming when sparks spew from the rocket. This sentence/sequence is not featured in Episode Two; the scream is recycled from the scream Kleiner makes when Gordon appears behind him at the end of the teleportation failure at the start of Half-Life 2. The console Kleiner stands at is instead used by Magnusson, and is at a different place. Furthermore, no Vortigaunt can be seen on the level right below.
- In the base, an Easter egg referring to the TV series Lost can be found. In Uriah's lab, there is an inaccessible room containing a computer terminal with the six factors of the Valenzetti Equation shown on the screen and, on the wall, a Dharma-style octagon with the three pines from the White Forest logo in the middle. According to Steve Bond, many Valve employees are fans of Lost, and they noticed several strong Half-Life references in the first season of Lost. Gabe Newell and Lost creator J. J. Abrams exchanged e-mails, and Newell promised Abrams there would be a Lost reference in Episode Two, and this room was created. This being merely an Easter egg, the connection between the two universes is however not to be considered canon.
- The Consoling Couple appears to have managed to leave City 17 alive, as they are seen through Eli's / Kleiner's office window when first going to visit Uriah.
- If Gordon fails to defeat all the Striders attacking White Forest, the last one will destroy the White Forest antenna in a single shot. Afterwards, the message "The rocket has been destroyed - Magnusson's misgivings about the Freeman are completely justified. - The game now ends" is shown, and the game reloads.
- There are several Orange Box Achievements related to White Forest: "Little Rocket Man", which requires the sending of the Garden Gnome into space by putting it with Lamarr in the opened rocket. Another is "Secondary Silo Secured", requiring to secure the launch doors in silo 2. Two achievements are related to the battle: "Neighborhood Watch" and "Defensive of the Armament"; the first one requires saving all the buildings outside White Forest and the second preventing the Striders from reaching the base.
- It may or may not be a coincidence that the name "White Forest" is diametrically opposed to the name "Black Mesa".
- The missile silo mirrors Black Mesa Research Facility rooms such as the Anti-Mass Spectrometer Test Chamber or the Tentacle chamber in the chapter Blast Pit but strangely not the rocket silo from On A Rail.
- Left of the rocket launch button can be seen the word "launch", with the "A" hidden with tape to make the word "lunch".
- When Gordon first meets Kleiner and Magnusson in the rocket silo, Lamarr climbs into the rocket compartment after Kleiner releases her. Kleiner makes a reference to this just before the rocket's launch by saying he has detected a "payload anomaly of approximately eight and a half pounds".
- Lamarr can be seen in the menu background of Episode Two.
- During the secondary silo battle, three guards will be controlling a turret near the door control lever, to the right of them is a door which is ajar, if the player throws a grenade into their room the guards inside will toss it back out and shut the door.
List of appearances
- Half-Life 2: Episode One (First appearance) (Possible appearance) (Video only)
- Source Particle Benchmark (Game files only) (Non-canonical appearance)
- Half-Life 2: Episode Two (First identified as White Forest)
- Half-Life: Alyx (Post-credits)
- The use of Cryllic in the base suggests a placement in eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union was one of the only world superpowers with Cryllic as an accepted language possessing ICBMs
- The Orange Box Dissected - with Valve on ComputerAndVideoGames.com
- The Orange Box Prima Guide
- Half-Life 2: Episode Two commentary
- Half-Life 2: Episode Two Trailer on Combine OverWiki's YouTube channel
- Half-Life 2: Episode Two - Gameplay Demo 5 on Combine OverWiki's YouTube channel
White Forest Inn
Half-Life 2 story arc journey
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