Half-Life 3 (or Half-Life 2: Episode 3) is one of the most infamous pieces of vaporware and rumored games around. Does it exist? Will it ever come out? No one knows the answers to these questions, except perhaps Valve. Even the name “Half-Life 3” is good for a thousand Internet jokes.
So how did it reach this point?
- November 1998 – Half-Life is released.
- November 2004 – Half-Life 2 is released.
- February 2006 – Valve announces that a trilogy of episodes would serve as a follow-up to Half-Life 2.
- May 2006 – Valve issues an official announcement saying Episode One has gone gold, Episode Two will be out by the end of 2006, and the trilogy of Half-Life 2 episodes will be finished by Christmas 2007.
- June 1, 2006 – Half-Life 2: Episode One is released.
- June 6, 2006 – Gabe Newell talks to Eurogamer about the series and the plot of the episodes. He says the three episodes have been planned out, and that they are the next step in the story, rather than expansions. He says the trilogy of episodes is more or less Half-Life 3, and suggests “Half Life 3: Episode One” might have been a better name instead of Half-Life 2: Episode One.
- May 17, 2007 – Valve tells Eurogamer that Episode Three is in pre-production stages.
- October 10, 2007 – Half-Life 2: Episode Two is released.
- November 8, 2007 – The project lead for Episode Two, David Speyrer, tells Rock, Paper, Shotgun that they didn’t include a trailer for Episode Three because they want to keep their options open and “don’t want to over commit.”
- June 27, 2008 – Half-Life 3: Episode Three is listed as appearing at E3, but Valve denies this and it turns out to be a false rumor.
- July 10, 2008 – Concept art for Episode Three is released.
- October 13, 2008 – Valve’s Doug Lombardi tells Kikizo that they might show more about Episode Three “at the very end of the year.”
- October 16, 2008 – Lombardi speaks to Shacknews, where he clarifies some of the comments he made in the interview with Kikizo, and says Episode Three’s long development time is both because of its size and because of Valve’s focus on Left 4 Dead and Team Fortress 2.
- August 12, 2009 – Gabe Newell says on a podcast with Steamcast that they’ll release details on Episode Three as soon as they have information they want to reveal.
- July 21, 2010 – A Steam user finds files labeled “Ep3” in the SDK for Valve’s shooter Alien Swarm.
- February 21, 2011 – News.com.au interviews Valve about Portal 2 and tries to add questions about Episode Three, but Valve won’t comment on it.
- May 14, 2011 – Code about a previously-unused Combine NPC is found in the SDK for Portal 2. It is removed shortly afterward.
- September 19, 2011 – Episode Three code is found within the leaked client for Dota 2. One of Valve’s writers later says these bits of code don’t mean anything significant for the game.
- December 20, 2011 – Valve releases the acceptance speech Wheatley would have given if he won Character of the Year at the Video Game Awards. He ends with “Ah, maybe next year,” which sparks theories that Valve will release a new single-player game in 2012. Of course, Half-Life 3 is a top contender.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymMrwlsbtrI
- December 28, 2011 – Voice actor John Patrick Lowrie comments on his blog that neither he nor Ellen McLain have heard anything about a new Half-Life episode.
- February 19, 2012 – In an interview with Penny Arcade, Gabe Newell says they want to be sure before they announce anything, so they don’t have to delay games.
- June 27, 2012 – Valvetime shares images it claims are old pieces of concept art for Episode Three.
- August 14, 2012 – Half-Life 3 is listed as appearing at Gamescom, but this is a mistake.
- March 13, 2013 – Game Newell continues to say there is no news to share.
- June 18, 2013 – A mailing list about Valve projects is discovered. It includes a group for Half-Life 3.
- October 9, 2015 – Valve accidentally adds a file called hl3.txt to Dota 2 Reborn.
- January 1, 2016 – A lambda is found hidden in a background from Steam’s holiday sale.
- February 23, 2016 – New Half-Life 3 strings are found in files for the SteamVR Performance Test.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2igP0jguSc
Since then, few credible rumors have surfaced about Half-Life 3.
We’ve come a long way from the initial promise that the Half-Life 2 episodes would be finished by Christmas of 2007. Half-Life 3, or Half-Life 2: Episode 3, has had a long and strange history. If you know of any pieces we missed, let us know in the comments, along with what you think will happen next.