Half-Life 3: Why It Doesn’t Matter Right Now

And why it could all just be part of a bigger picture.

Posted By | On 30th, Nov. 2012 Under Article, Editorials

Well, saying that Half-Life 3, the long awaited sequel to the multi-award winning franchise that heralded several innovations that other first person shooters are still trying to execute properly, doesn’t matter anymore is a bit of a fallacy. Heck, it still matters to millions of gamers. It still matters to people who want to know the identity of the mysterious G-Man and continue the story after the shocking events that have unfolded.

So really, to say that it doesn’t matter right now is a bit of an overstatement. Look at the shooters that developers have been churning out this year. Does any single one of them, except Far Cry 3, approach the brilliance that Half-Life 2 delivered?

Concept art that has been doing the rounds for a while now shows the Borealis, embedded in an icy canyon, with Combine Advisers floating hither tither (there are plenty of nods to the ship within the most recent Valve game, Portal 2, as well).

Everyone mimics Call of Duty, even non-FPS developers, hoping to cash in on a modicum of success. Innovation is dying a slow death. Wouldn’t a game like Half-Life 3 be most necessary, to reignite the industry and pave the way for a new age of brilliance?

Well, that’s just it. For all our needs and wants, Half-Life 3 isn’t the future. It’s certainly what we want, in this instant, but as soon as it’s over, we’ll just be pining for the next one. It might not seem at all possible but we are gamers after all. We don’t devour games so much as meticulously pick them apart, byte by byte, again and again, until it makes us past the point of crazy. After which we go back and do it all again. After completing Half-Life 3, the hype will be on for Half-Life 4. And then 5. And then 6. And so on until Valve decides to just monetize the sumbitch and release a yearly sequel.

It’s the long run that deserves a closer look.

Steam Greenlight.

News has been circulating for a while now about Valve’s “Steam Box”, the latest indicating that it’ll be unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. Couple this with the current Big Picture, which is bringing PC gaming to living rooms in a way that makes Xbox Live and PSN look perfectly antiquated by comparison, and Steam Greenlight, which is serving as an excellent medium for independent developers to have their games featured and distributed via Steam in ways that make Microsoft’s current policies look downright muggish by comparison. Let’s not forget the Source 2 engine which is reportedly in development.

Valve is quickly becoming more than just a developer who survives from paycheck to paycheck, living in fear of a bigger publisher that only cares about the bottom line. Compare companies like EA pressure the founders of Bioware so strongly due to negative fan response, which in itself was utterly asinine, that they retire – to Valve’s Gabe Newell, who’s famously pissed off the entire PS3 fan base time and time again before trolling everyone and announcing Portal 2 for the console.

Image courtesy: Deviantart.

They know they’re in a position to deliver big on innovation. Heck, they love it. So while we may complain about when Half-Life 3 will be announced and subsequently when it will be released, ask yourself this: What if Half-Life 3 is only part of the plan? What if it’s just another cog in the machine, along with Big Picture, for its Steam Box? Conspiracy-talk, sure, but Valve has proven time and time again that it’s more than capable of living up to the hype.

Which brings us back to the matter of time. It’s a joke that Valve has its own perception of time, and it could be a while before we even get a sliver of official information on Half-Life 3. So the issue isn’t whether Half-Life 3 exists or doesn’t, or when it’s releasing because those are questions bestowed on typical sequels. The real questions are “How?” and “Why?”. And you can bet that Valve will go all-out with the answers.

(Cover Image from Deviantart).

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  • Rodia

    Nice article, Ravi, and I agree with most of your points, although I must say that even in the case that HL3 is a part of a bigger plan – whatever that plan is – the next installment of Valve’s famous series would still be as anticipated by me as ever. In other words: the existence of an all-encompassing master plan born somewhere in the bowels of Gabe Newell’s mind during his sleep-deprived, Dota 2-induced nights does not lower the importance of that game for me. Sure, Steam Box and wearable computing Valve’s reportedly working on now might change – or even revolutionize – the industry but it is Half-Life 3 that wil push the boundaries of games as an ART FORM. And that’s something you can’t replace with anything else. Besides, as you’ve pointed out, I need to know how the story ends 🙂

  • Brokinarrow

    Ideally, Valve needs to end the story with Half-Life 3. That’s something that developers seem too unwilling to do these days. But every great story has an end, and I would rather we have 3 amazing games than 6 or 9 games that slowly lose their luster over the years.

    • Jamel Frazier

      I think and this is my personal opinion only, that they should end the story, but the game should last more than 30 hours, and have and extremely long cut scene at the end. I’m looking foreword to the end just as much as anyone else, but with the way episode 2 ended, I think that Gordon is going to have to make a trip to the combine world to finish the job, along with finding Dr. Mossman, and dealing with Eli’s death.

      There is no way valve can somehow miraculously have Gordan stop the combine from earth, he’s going to a couple of other solar systems to stop them, and something tells me that that might not even stop them. The last game, if it’s the last game, is gonna be EPIC. If valve does it right. I have never played any game with such an epic story in my decade of gaming, not even GTA San Andreas comes close to the awesomeness of this series.

  • Laju

    Half Life 3 needed to be over and done with. The whole Half Life franchise took on a puzzle-type physics learning curve, and drew on a gaming audience that put their trust in “passing the torch”. I like the whole franchise- so much that I don’t agree with the development team hiding out for half a decade to rot in Valve’s secret preservation vault, while we wince everytime we get the HL3 release date wrong.
    Love the game, hate the franchise, NOT OUR ONLY OPTION.

  • Garry

    Very interesting concept, I have to agree with you. What else has Valve got baking? There has been speculation that Valve are working with I think it’s Microsoft to make their own game console, which could be part of the reason, but still I agree with you completely.

  • Logan Snider

    I hate to say this, but I would like Valve to end things with Half Life 3. This game does not deserve to die a slow death for monetary gain. And, if they do things just right they will wrap up an epic series in a way which would make Mass Effect 3 look shameful in comparison. I must admit that I have absolutely no clue how I would even begin to undertake HL3. Most of the time its easy to figure out a cookie cutter story such as with the Halo Franchise, but Half-Life… not so much.

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  • agun

    The suprise for the steam box will be…. HATS FOR RICOCHET 2!


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