Today, it has been six years since Valve announced the development of HL2: Episode Three, which was then set for a Christmas 2007 release. It was May 2006, and HL2: Episode One had just gone gold. Right around this time, part of the Episode One team began pre-production development on Episode Three, while the other part joined up with the Episode Two team.
This means that the next entry in the Half-Life series has been in development, in some form or another, for exactly 6 years.
At the time, Episode Two was set for a late 2006 release, but of course, Valve Time struck, and EP2 would ultimately be released in October of 2007. Following its release, Valve said very little about Episode Three throughout 2008 (aside from implying it would be a very ambitious game), and released no media officially (the only three pieces of concept art of EP3 ever released, were actually distributed by gaming publications). By 2009, the project had completely entered radio silence. Over half a decade on, we know so much, yet so little of how and when the Half-Life franchise is set to continue.
Most fans now accept that Episode Three is, more or less, as dead as a dodo; and that it has been superseded by a full-fledged Half-Life 3. A hypothetical HL3 would continue the story from where EP2 left it, and would presumably take it to all-new settings, perhaps even beyond Earth. It may very well be a next-gen title (since it most likely won’t be released prior to late 2013, and at least two of the upcoming next-gen triumvirate will have been released by that time), perhaps built on a revamped version of the Source engine, sporting revolutionary new tech – otherwise, what would be the point?
That said, some fans have lost at least some faith in Valve’s abilities – they might have been let down by Portal 2, or perhaps by CS:GO. Given that the community’s expectations rise as each month of total silence goes by, many doubt Valve’s ability to live up to the immense expectations and the overwhelming hype that the aforementioned radio silence has established, and deliver a satisfying and fulfilling Half-Life threequel. And I have to admit – I can’t really blame them.
But surely, with most of the Half-Life 2 team and their immense creativity, talent, dedication and skill – all still on board; and after over 6-7 years in development (more than HL2‘s development time), and what we can only assume will be a pretty huge budget (after all, Valve is worth billions of dollars; as is Gabe himself; and let’s not forget about the 20-50 million dollar in-game trading economy of Team Fortress 2), it’s not too far-fetched to expect Valve to ultimately deliver a solid and impressive Half-Life release. I’m sure veteran fans might also have experienced such doubts during the lead-up to Half-Life 2‘s release, as well as during the lead-up to its reveal at E3 2003. And as we all know, the final product turned out to be one of the greatest games ever made.