Video game reporter and historian Geoff Keighley has released his latest creation, an exhaustive interactive documentary on the production of Half-Life: Alyx. The doc — a multimedia experience mixing text and videos — is available now on Steam. The most interesting nugget of information is the one thing everyone has wanted to know for years…What happened to Half-Life 3??
The doc says Valve tinkered with a possible Half-Life 3 in 2013. It would, of course, have resolved the cliffhanger the series is still stuck on, but in terms of gameplay it would’ve been radically different. What would you think of a procedurally generated Half-Life with objectives and routes that were different each time you played the game? According to Keighley “the game would generate a building and an objective (such as rescuing a prisoner), then create a route through it and fill the building with enemies, meaning that section would always play out differently.” This version was abandoned within a year, reportedly due to difficulties with the engine they were using.
After Half-Life 3 collapsed, Valve experimented with some other ideas to breathe life into the franchise. VR was the place they first turned, but they hit some bumps along the way. One cheap idea was to reuse assets from Half-Life 2 to make a quick shooter based around that game. Described as more of a theme park ride than a full product, it would have been packaged with other mini-games in Valve’s VR collection The Lab.
But they wanted to do something better. Their next idea, Half-Life: Borealis, was more ambitious…created by writer Marc Laidlaw, the game took place aboard the time-traveling ship mentioned in Half-Life 2 and would have hopped mainly between two periods, the Seven Hour War and a time shortly after the end of Half-Life 2 Episode 2 (so it’s possible this might have tied up some loose ends that otherwise would’ve been resolved in Half-Life 3).
But that fizzled out, and we got Alyx….and the story is still unfinished to this day.