After Half-Life 2: Episode 2, many of us expected a third and fourth episode to follow, continuing that gutwrenching cliffhanger. Neither did, but leaks began to trickle down regarding Half-Life 3, several different times with several different plots. Usually, they centred on the arctic and Borealis, as with Mark Laidlaw’s Epistle 3, the penned letter to fans explaining what would’ve happened had that third episode been made. But this new leaked Half-Life 3 build was reportedly set in Aperture Science and the USA, taking place after a 20-year time skip.
This is according to prolific Half-Life leaker and Valve reporter Tyler McVicker. According to McVicker, this project was cancelled in 2015 due to internal conflict with management who continued to push VR over 2D FPS’. Because of this, there was very little development progress, with Valve only creating the opening escape of Aperture Science.
Gordon would have reportedly started in a strange dream sequence which appeared as though he was fighting in the Seven Hour War. This would have set the darker tone for Half-Life 3, as several of our favourite characters would have been seen dying, something later confirmed when we find out Kleiner, Eli, and Alyx didn’t make it in the 20 years since Episode 2. Once this concluded, he woke up in Aperture.
Aperture Science, for context, is where Portal takes place. And not only would Gordon have allegedly woken up here, having the games cross over more explicitly, but he would also have a metal prosthetic arm capable of utilising new Rubicon physics due to the Source 2 engine. This would let us resize objects and change their temperature, lending to more complex puzzles.
Once he had escaped, McVicker claims that he would have seen a city in the distance, one still controlled by the Combine. This means we’d be fighting in the ruins of the USA, much like in the Half-Life 2 beta builds. However, it was set to be much harsher than City 17, with the entire metropolis serving as a prison camp in which humans were grown and harvested as resources, everyone was documented and heavily surveilled, and there was no way out.
Given how bleak this is, it’s understandable then that the rebels wouldn’t have seen Gordon as a messiah anymore, but rather as a curse. Everywhere he goes, people die. McVicker says that, due to this change in how the world sees Gordon, he would have had to do more to gain the rebel’s trust, and so Half-Life 3 would have had procedurally generated quests in what would have been a more open-ended, less linear game.
And since the rebels were reluctant to help, Gordon would have reportedly found a cremator factory on the outskirts of the city, reinstated it, and uses the cremators to fight back.
Finally, this leaked Half-Life 3 build was reportedly more stealth focused. This meant we would have had zip lines and spy grenades, the latter letting us throw drones into rooms to see what the Combine were up to.
This is the latest Half-Life 3 we know of, and one of three to have a demo build, but it was scrapped in favour of Alyx. Luckily, that did see the light of day. What’s next is unclear, but let’s hope Valve isn’t done just yet.