Rumors and Leaks - Half-Life 3 Guide - IGN (2024)


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IGN's guide to Rumors and Leaks for Half-Life 3 and Half-Life 2: Episode 3 collects a comprehensive reservoir of information on the rumored third installment of Valve's flagship series.

Half-Life Three began life as Half-Life 2: Episode 3, an announced, long awaited and unreleased continuation of the Half-Life story. Since then, rumors have swirled about the project's direction, and when, if ever, it will appear.



Valve reportedly included a strange file called "hl3.txt" in an October 9 Dota 2 update alongside and a series of other out-of-place text files that detail the existence of quests, VR support, NPC squads and more. The massive code dump features notable lines of useful text such as:

  • NPCs with matching squad names will share information about enemies, and will take turns attacking and covering each other.
  • "VR Chaperone" and "VR Movement," suggesting compatibility with Valve's Lighthouse technology and its HTC Vive headset.
  • "Quest Citizens," and ""If you want your citizens to squad with the player but not obey commands the player gives to move the squad, put a concept here and this citizen will speak the concept instead of obeying the order."
  • "Combine Pulse Ceiling Turret"
  • Ziplines

This comes on the heels of a confusing quote dropped by Valve's Gabe Newell in an March podcast interview with Geoff Knightley. Asked whether or not fans will ever see a proper Half-Life 3, Newell replied: "The only reason we'd go back and do like a super classic kind of product is if a whole bunch of people just internally at Valve said they wanted to do it and had a reasonable explanation for why [they did]."

"But you know if you want to do another Half-Life game and you want to ignore everything we've learned in shipping Portal 2 and in shipping all the updates on the multiplayer side, that seems like a bad choice," Newell continued. "So we'll keep moving forward. But that doesn't necessarily always mean what people are worried that it might mean."


Mih Le, creator of Counterstrike and formerly of Valve, let slip in an interview that that Half-Life 3 is being worked on.

Speaking to the pocdcast goRGNtv, Le said:

"I don't think I can talk about that, to be honest, but I think it's kind of public knowledge, that people know that it is being worked on,"

He went on.

"I guess I could say that I did see something that looked kinda like in the Half-Life universe. And I mean it wouldn't surprise anyone if I said they're doing it, they're working on it, yeah. So to go on a limb I'd say I did see some concept art for Half-Life 3."



In October, 2013, a likely-fraudulent trademark claim with the European Union for the Half-Life 3 name temporarily led many to believe that the long-awaited title was officially in development. The claim was unlisted almost immediately after posting, remaining visible only long enough to attract media attention.

Earlier that same year, Valve's JIRA development forum was accidentally made available to external users. Fan website probed the available files and discovered references to a Half-Life 3 project.

The JIRA board included a number of threads related in current and post-development Valve products. Half-Life 3 occupied a single thread, significantly less than products assumed to be in active development, including the Source 2 engine. The presence of extracurricular JIRA threads also casts some doubt on the relevance of this discovery.


A selection of Half-Life 3 (or Half-Life 2: Episode 2) concept art leaks via The art is believed to originate from Valve work circa 2008.

Images below courtesy of valvetime.

The concept art included multiple images of a frozen tundra, winter gear, and extradimensional visuals reminiscent of Xen. Palette and design choices evoke a sense of familiarity with previous episodes.

Curiously absent from the art is any clear and direct depcition of Gordon Freeman. Alyx appears to be prominently featured. This is curious, as Gordon is confirmed to be the protagonist of Episode 3.


Equipment and clothing styles are reminiscent of Soviet and Cold-War era technology and iconography. The image below resembles the ubiquitous Mi-8 Hip Soviet-Russian transport helicopter.

This chopper crash site appears to figure prominently into the narrative, appearing twice in the concept art.


These close ups of familiar characters depict a heavy focus on winterized attire.


A 2008-era piece of Half-Life 2: Episode 2 concept art comes to the attention of the gaming press. The art is submitted to gaming art collection site Produced by Ted Backman, Jeremy Bennett, and Tristan Reidford, the drawing is titled "Advisor".

Within the Software Development Kit for Valve's Alien Swarm, users find several references to Episode 3 AI-assistance nodes for an entity called Blob Brain. [1]

Image Above Cropped From Steam User-Uploaded Image []



In an interview with the Steamcast Podcast, Gabe Newell states:

"Right now, the Half-Life 2 Episodes themselves are on a third sort of ‘rhythm’ and, you know, we think it makes sense for the product and for what we’re trying to do there and the reason we’re not talking about it is mainly we don’t have anything to say. It’s not like we decided we released too much information, it’s just that if we had information that we were in a position to deliver to people we would and right now we don’t have anything to say about it. And it really is a consequence of these different sorts of rhythms to release schedules which we’re trying out.

Up until the emergence of the internet, release schedules were pretty much the same for every product and every publisher. Every couple of years you do a big release and the reason that you do it is that there’s a bunch of friction associated with doing one of those releases, you know, you’ve got to get advertising and marketing and the retail and it’s four months between doing an interview with a publication and having it appear in print. Compare that today where we’re doing this podcast on a Friday and I assume that within a fairly short period of time it’s going to be out to a whole bunch of people who can then ask me a bunch of questions or follow-up questions or ask you follow-up questions so there’s this big difference between this old method where everybody knew exactly the right way to release their projects and today we’re sort of wanting to make a bunch of experiments and try a bunch of things out, some of which will work well for people and for us and some of which won’t. And so Episode Three is sort of this victim of our willingness to experiment but as soon as we have stuff that we’re ready to talk about, we will." [2]


A Steam user discovers an entry in the Source Software Development Kit called sourcesdk.gcf/src_mod/orangebox/game/server/episodic/Episode3. The entry contains three references: npc_combine_armored.cpp, npc_wpnscanner.cpp, and weapon_proto1.cpp. A Valve representative responds: "old leftover stuff that aren't used, and no longer even exist. They were included in the SDK by mistake." [3]


In an interview with Tom Bromwell of Eurogamer, Gabe Newell confirms that Gordon Freeman will serve as protagonist in Half-Life 2: Episode 3. [4]


In February, Aftermath is renamed Half-Life 2, Episode 1.

In June, Gabe Newell of Valve revealed that Half-Life Three should be considered synonymous with Half-Life 2: Episodes 1-3.


In April, Valve announces Aftermath, a continuation of the Half-Life series. Aftermath will later evolve into Half-Life 2 Episodes 1-3, and Episode 3 will subsequently evolve into the anticipated Half-Life 3 product.

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