Half-Life 3 prototypes included an RTS and an FMV adventure game

Half-Life 2: Episode Two

Half-Life 3 – you know, the vaporous sequel to one of the most influential shooter franchises of all time – could have been a real-time strategy or even an interactive movie adventure game.

What happened to Half-Life 3? Here’s the story (so far) on arguably the most-wanted game ever.

The bizarre revelation comes via the Game Informer podcast. Responding to a reader who wondered – as many do – if Half-Life 3 will ever come out, GI executive editor Andrew Reiner says:

“I was actually chasing a story on Half-Life 3, trying to figure out what happened. I talked to one developer who actually gave me legitimate information and told me it was a hot mess. There were so many different prototypes that were small teams – four or five people working on them – that just never got off the ground.

“They said two of the directions they were going in… one was going to be an RTS game for Half-Life 3 or Episode Three, whatever they were going to call it. The other one involved live actors, and it was going to be a new kind of adventure action game with actual actors… Apparently they were working on these things.”

Reiner also says “I reached out to ten to fifteen people who worked for the company and they just didn’t want to talk about it all,” including some who were happy to give interviews back nearer the time of Half-Life 2: Episode Two’s release. “Dead end after dead end after dead end,” says Reiner, suggesting Valve – or at least their employees – are getting sick of being pestered.

Episode Two was the last official Half-Life game, and it’ll turn ten years old in October this year. The episodic format was intended to shorten the wait (lol) between pieces of content after the six years between Half-Lives 1 and 2. An Episode Three was planned, but has ballooned into a fully-fledged sequel in the years since Episode Two; as this story further proves, Half-Life 3 has been in development at some stage, but we don’t know that it ever got much beyond initial concepting.

With Valve doing so well out of Steam, Dota 2 and CS:GO, and having shown no interest of late in major single-player releases, the best advice regarding Half-Life 3 continues to be: don’t get your hopes up. Personally, I honestly wonder whether they have the expertise on staff to make a triple-A single-player shooter, let alone one of the same innovative brilliance of the first two Half-Lives.