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In a move that no one saw coming, the potential plot for Half-Life 2: Episode 3 has been released online.
Marc Laidlaw who was the writer of Half-Life, Half-Life 2, and Half-Life 2: Episodes 1 and 2 has released what may have at some point been the plot for Half-Life 3.
It has been ten years since the release of Half-Life 2: Episode 2, and the fanbase at large has been waiting not so patiently for any news, release plans or anything to do with the much awaited Episode 3.
As everyone who knows Valve knows they aren't too good at counting to three, but fans held out hope nonetheless, and then in the late hours of the morning of the 25th of August, the plot appeared online in the form of a letter from the Free Man himself, Dr. Gordon Freeman, Ph.D, albeit genderswapped and played off as fan fiction, assumedly to avoid legal action being taken against Laidlaw who left Valve after 16 years.
Before we delve into what was released and where you can find it if you fancy a read yourself, I will say that I gave up hope of ever seeing anything regarding Half-Life 3: Episode 3, resigning myself to the fact that anything that came out would be a disappointment a la Duke Nukem Forever which spent over 13 years in Development Hell. Seeing this, whether it's to be believed or not, makes me believe I was right to be skeptical, the plot seems fine for the most part but certain places and in particular the end gave me cause for concern.
The plot begins following on from the death of Eli Vance and how it affected the Rebellion against the Combine. After the burial of Eli, it is Alex Vance, his daughter who spurns on the Resistance, wishing to see her father's goal achieved. The Resistance has the coordinates of the Borealis, a key component, they believe, in taking down the Combine, be it through destroying it and all the Aperture Science tech on board so it cannot fall into enemy hands. Others in the Resistance, however, believed that the tech on board could swing the battle in their favour. Arguments ensued but were deemed moot until the vessel could be found, so off they pop via seaplane to Antarctica, the location the coordinates described.
Upon arrival, they are shot down and have to go the rest of the way by foot, stumbling through the cold eventually arriving at the location they thought the Borealis would be at. Only to be met with a Combine fortress.
Alex and Gordon infiltrate the structure, ever aware of the astral shimmer of what appeared to be a large ship. As it transpires, the coordinates were not for where the ship was but where it could be, as it was oscillating in and out of reality.
What follows is a series of reveals, Dr. Breen is now a slug thing, but it's a different Breen. Dr. Mossman is there too, it's a big old party in the Antarctic.
Mossman ends up being killed by Alex Vance, who wants to use the Borealis to attempt to wipe out the Combine by ramming it as fast as it can go into their base.
Another old friend pops up to whisk Vance away, leaving Freeman on a boat that doesn't have long for this world. Luckily Vauntigaunts pop up and save the day for Freeman who had been made incredibly aware of the futility of the Rebellion's war effort against the Combine.
I've skimmed over bits because I want you to read it for yourself if you are interested, which you can do at Marc Laidlaw's own website, found [here].
My opinion on this, as legitimate as it seems, is as follows: Ending the Half-Life story in such as depressing manner, showing the rise of the Combine as Freeman zooms towards his doom, being spared by the physical embodiment of Deus ex Machina is exactly what I was worried about for the last ten years, nothing that Valve delivered could live up to the literal decade of hype surrounding Half-Life 2: Episode 3. It was always going to fall flat.
But who knows, reading and playing are two very different things. Though I am still hopeful we will be able to play the conclusion rather than read it alone.