If you’re anything like me you’re constantly freaking out about the possibility that news about the continuing adventures of Gordon Freeman could pop up literally any second now. Valve has been known to send out press releases in the middle of the night, you know.
So what’s up with Half-Life 2: Episode Three? We know it’s coming. I mean, it’s gotta be coming, right? Valve would be guilty of probably the greatest cocktease in human history if they just didn’t make it. So let’s work under the assumption that, yes, the game will someday be out.
The purpose of this article is to put in perspective our lust for knowledge about this game by looking at the long, drawn out saga surrounding it. We’ll start at the beginning.
Valve announces that the sequel to Half-Life 2 will be delivered episodically
Way back in 2005, we heard about plans in the works for a Half-Life 2 expansion called Aftermath. Then, in early 2006, Valve announced that Aftermath would actually be called Half-Life 2: Episode One, and that it would be followed shortly by a second episode. This was exciting! Regular new Half-Life content after that interminable six-year wait? Yeah!
A few weeks before Episode One was released in June 2006, Valve announced Episode Three, saying that it would conclude the new arc begun in the first episode. They said, too, that all three episodes would be released by the end of 2007. That’s Valve Time, of course, seeing as how it took until the end of 2007 for Episode Two to be released.
Valve talks about Episode Three, but only a little bit
Valve has almost never, ever said much about Episode Three, which is probably what has made the wait feel so long and painful. But they have said some things. Aside from the simple announcement that Episode Three was planned and would conclude the episodic arc, our best nugget comes from a Eurogamer visit to Valve in May of 2007.
“Pre-production is definitely going,” said Valve’s Doug Lombardi, “and it’ll be ramping up rather quickly now that they’re ramping down on Episode Two.”
Lombardi, in the Eurogamer interview linked above: “I don’t think you’ll head back to City 17, for sure. Not in Episode Three, anyway.”
Programmer David Speyrer says in that interview that a lot of work has gone into “creating a natural progress of topography and climate.” That thought is interesting in light of the reveal in Episode Two that Gordon and Alyx’s ultimate destination is an Aperture research ship trapped in the arctic.
Speyrer, to RPS, later in 2007: “We’re going to try and do something pretty ambitious for that project [Episode Three].”
Late in 2008, Lombardi tells videogamesdaily.com that they may show off some Episode Three stuff before the end of the year. Obviously, we’re still waiting on any real Episode Three details. Lombardi also makes this indecipherable quote: “Yeah, the next time you play as Gordon will be longer than the distance between HL2 to Ep1, and Ep1 to Ep2.” What I think he means is that it’ll take longer for them to make it than the time that passed between HL2 and Episode Two. At nearly four years going now, I think we’re there.