Half-Life 3, for as long as I can remember, has been the singular enigma that even I expected to have been released, never mind announced, by now. It’s been well over a decade since Valve released Half-Life 2: Episode 2, and the time since then has transformed the would-be sequel into something maybe even Valve is frightened by. And according to three prominent developers, they have every right to be.
But that doesn’t mean Valve shouldn’t make it, and the same three have some interesting ideas on how they should approach it.
PC Gamer caught up with BossKey Productions Founder Cliff Bleszinski, Bluepoint Games Creative Director Kynan Pearson and Tripwire Interactive President John Gibson about some of the ideas they’d have if put in charge of Half-Life 3 – and how Valve would possibly go about creating the most anticipated game of this generation. Unsurprisingly many of them struggled to image a near future where this would actually be a reality, but all three seemed to agree on some fundamentals.
Half-Life 1 and 2 both pushed boundaries, especially in terms of what was expected from a first-person shooter at the time. Half-Life 2 specifically presented narratively heavy experience with some gorgeous visuals, and John Gibson believes Half-Life 3 would need to set some sort of similar benchmarks to have the same impact today.
“A great story is what separated the first two Half-Life games from their competitors, and the same should be true for Half-Life 3. Finally I would set a priority for having enjoyable moment-to-moment gameplay, because if the main gameplay loop isn’t fun then nothing else you do in the game will matter.”
Gibson also believes that with all the financial security Valve has, the Steam House should really just risk it all like no other studio could dream of doing. That could involve doing the unimaginable, and making Half-Life 3 a sort of HTC Vive exclusive. An idea that Valve themselves have denied in the past, but one that Cliff Bleszinski doesn’t see as too crazy.
“With the amazing HTC Vive, it wouldn’t surprise me to see something in the Half-Life universe on that platform as a way of making it happen for the eager crowd. Remember when Steam launched (poorly) with Half Life 2 and you HAD to have Steam? I could easily see Gabe and co doing something similar. Heck, the most spectacular first demo on the Vive (if you haven’t seen it, spoilers) is a scene that is slowly revealed that you’re in Aperture Science labs (when Glados showed up I was equally thrilled as I was terrified, she’s HUGE in person/VR!). So my ‘money’ is on something to make the killer app for the Vive, similar themes of science, new setting.”
Kynan Pearson, of Bluepoint and Epic Games fame, recognises that Half-Life 3 will also be heavily scrutinised and compared to franchises that don’t even directly compete with it, making the need for innovation paramount. For this reason Half-Life 3 needs to be equal parts risky and revolutionary, with Pearson agreeing with the sentiments expressed by John Gibson.
“For Half-Life 3 to be successful it needs to be a great game, but competing directly with or trying to outdo those games one their own playing field would be extremely difficult and costly. Half-Life 3 needs to be risky, revolutionary and memorable.”
Pearson laid out a couple of extended ideas on what he would do if in charge of the title, along with some smaller ideas from Bleszinski and Gibson which you really should read through in the lengthy interview on PC Gamer. It’s probable that most of them will never be used, and it’s still completely possible that Half-Life 3 will ever be made.
But if it is, and Valve does take the risk, these many sentiments here that ring true. Half-Life 3 will need to set the standards that it did over ten years ago to make an impact after all this time, and that’s probably what is getting many people up at night at Valve.
Last Updated: February 26, 2016