Mark Laidlaw Reveals Half Life 2: Episode 3 Plot

With the launch of Duke Nukem Forever now more than half a decade behind us, Half Life 2: Episode 3 (or Half Life 3 depending on who you ask) has taken the throne as the king of vaporware. Initially announced in 2006, the next episode in the Half Life 2 series, which Valve ironically moved to an episodic format to avoid long development delays, has been in limbo with nary a shred of evidence that the developer is actually working on said title.

While Valve has been silent on their development plans for Half Life, one thing that the company cannot hide is that its Half Life writers are jumping ship. Over the past two years, at least four big writers have left the company: Eric Wolpaw, Chet Faliszek, Mark Laidlaw, and Jay Pinkkerton.

Mark Laidlaw, evidently not content with his story being lost to the Valve offices forever, recently posted a “fan fiction” story titled “Epistle 3” on his blog. The blog post is from the perspective of a “Gertie Fremont,” discussing the death of “Elly Vaunt” and heading to the antarctic with Alex Vaunt to find the Hyperborea. The story is a clear nod toward Half Life 2, with events detailed that have leaked out through interviews and documents over the years.

In Laidlaw’s story, Freeman and Alex go north to find the Aurora Borealis, a ship created by Aperture Science (thinking with Portals) that can phase in and out of existence and time. The duo comes across Dr. Breen who had transferred his consciousness to a Combine slug, now regretting his decision and wishing for death. They take over the Borealis and plot to crash it into the Combine homeworld, when the illusive Gman shows up and pulls Alex out to rescue her.

Gordon, meanwhile, remains on board the ship to realize that the plan is destined to fail, as the Combine power is too great. He is rescued at the last second by the Vortigaunt, setting the game up for a possible sequel. Gordon wakes up on shore, not knowing where he is or how much time has passed, or even if the resistance won. The story ends on a somewhat chilling note,

“Expect no further correspondence from me regarding these matters; this is my final epistle.”

The last full game to be developed by Valve was released in 2012, with much of the company’s focus being on maintaining Dota 2, Team Fortress 2, and Counter Strike: GO, as well as its various investments in competitive gaming tournaments, VR, and the Steam marketplace. More story-driven titles including Half Life, Portal, and Left 4 Dead have sat neglected for the better part of the last decade.

As time goes on, the hopes for Valve wrapping up the Half Life series have understandably faltered. Valve remains silent, writers from the series are leaving, the voice actor for Dr. Breen passed away, and leaks from the company suggest that all attempts to revive the sequel have ultimately died off and gone nowhere. Valve is currently working on several VR titles, and the flat structure ensures that anyone can start working on Half Life as soon as they feel like it. So will they?

It feels less likely as they years tick on.

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