Valve founder and president Gabe Newell once again teased the possibility of Half-Life 3 at an internal event Thursday night when the team and selected community members were celebrating the release of the new Index VR headset. Valve, the studio behind the PC gaming platform Steam, has only released a handful of their own games, and they’re almost universally beloved. However, Valve has a history of releasing sequels to their most popular titles, but never following up with a third iteration. Multiplayer shooter Team Fortress led to Team Fortress 2, released in 2007. Now 12 years later, Team Fortress 2 is still among Steam’s top 10 most popular games, but Valve has yet to release a Team Fortress 3. DOTA 2 essentially created the MOBA phenomenon in 2013, and even now is often the most-played game on Steam, but there’s no concrete news about DOTA 3.
Half-Life 2 was launched in 2004, nearly 15 years ago. The plan was to follow up with a trilogy of shorter games with a contiguous storyline. Half-Life 2: Episode One and Half-Life 2: Episode Two were released in 2006 and 2007, respectively. Half-Life 2: Episode Three was scheduled to be released by Christmas 2007. It hasn't been released, but has yet to be announced as officially cancelled.
On Thursday night, Newell hinted that the next Half-Life might be on its way as revealed in a video posted on YouTube by VR developer Finn Sinclair and subsequently shared on Reddit. Newell only said a few words, and spent most of his time praising the hard work of the team behind the Index VR. He only touched briefly upon potential new releases (starting 4:20 into the video below), saying:
"Milestones aren't really the end of anything, they're really the beginning. So Half-Life lead to Half-Life 2. Source led to Source 2. The experiments we did with Team Fortress 2 were what enabled us to build DOTA. Artifact is the reason we're able to do Underlords. And, so, you know, maybe someday the number two will lead us to that shiny integer glowing on a mountain someplace. We'll just have to see."
Newell has been hinting at the possibility of a Half-Life 3 for more than a decade now, but there are reasons to think this time might be different. Erik Wolpaw, co-writer of Portal and Half-Life 2, returned to Valve in January. In early 2018, Newell said that Valve “was finally going to start shipping games again,” but that prioritizing Steam and hardware development was “an investment in the future.” It was reported later that year that a Half-Life prequel might be tied to the launch of the then-unannounced Index VR.
It’s easy to think of Half-Life 3 as the gaming equivalent of Game of Thrones' Cleganebowl or Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote - a potential masterpiece that’s perpetually just out of reach, and one that might struggle to meet expectations after years of building hype. With the Index VR reaching customer’s hands, though, there’s hope that Valve’s focus has finally shifted back to game development. If 2019 finally gave us The Man Who Killed Don Quixote and Cleganebowl, maybe there’s still hope for Half-Life 3.
Source: Finn Sinclair/YouTube