Yes, I know, I know. All of you started laughing when you read that title.
But believe it or not, an Episode Four featuring a stand-alone plot was in development at some point. Not at Valve, but at an undisclosed third-party studio. PC Gamer mentioned this way back in May 2006, but in late 2006 Gabe said that this Episode Four was still in development. When talking to Eurogamer in May of 2007, asked about Episode Three’s setting, Doug Lombardi said: “I don’t think you’ll head back to City 17, for sure. Not in Episode Three, anyway.”
Strangely enough, as late as December of 2007, Stuff We Like, after speaking to Doug Lombardi, mentioned the possibility of a series of episodic Half-Life games disconnected from the main story arc. But, some time later, the project was cancelled. We don’t know when or why, and we don’t even know who might have been making it. Except now we might know!
Randy Humphries is a concept artist and 3D modeler. He’s been working at EA since 2004. He has just posted up 6 pieces of concept art for some sort of Half-Life project developed by EA on his Coroflot profile. He gives no details about the project, and it isn’t in his resume. The only information he gave is: “cancelled project”, which leads us to believe that this is Episode Four, and it was in fact in development at EA.
The concept art includes two drawings of an Eastern European city resembling City 17 (this one and this one), a drawing of some sort of abandoned town named “Haven”, a drawing of the interior of an apartment block, again, resembling what we’ve seen in HL2 and the Episodes, a shot of what seems to be a very different Civil Protection officer with a City 17 arm band, and a drawing featuring some sort of Overwatch Soldier, who looks almost nothing like the Overwatch Soldiers we know and love from HL2 and the Episodes.
The concept art as a whole is quite good, but the character designs are nowhere near as well-done as Valve’s work. Still, we’d have to see more before really talking about what this could and could not have been.