Steam Gaming

Half-Life 2: Episode 3

Half-Life 2: Episode Three is the third and final instalment in a series of episodes
following Half-Life 2. It is currently in development and Valve have said we may
see something from it at the end of this year. The project has been labelled 'highly
ambitious' by Doug Lombardi, and release is still a while off. We are most likely
to see something from Valve at next years E3 conference.

What we know, and what to expect?
We
know the episode is going to be set in the northern reaches of the world of Half-Life,
these will be cold places filled with ice and snow, oh and a Borealis.

The Borealis is that great ship that disappeared during some experimentation by
the same sort of scientists that caused the Resonance Cascade from the original
Half-Life. From what we have seen from Portal and the previous Episodes the Borealis
is a scientific ship that was involved in teleportation tests at the Aperture Science
labs. Something went wrong which led to the ship disappearing completely from its
original location. It is only during the events of Episode 2 that we find out that
it has returned, this time in the coldest reaches of the world.

Speculation
The question that
will be answered (we hope) in Episode 3 is what happened to the ship, did it appear
instantly after the experiment in the north? If that is so then why haven’t we heard
about it until now? Is it simply down to the fact that the resistance couldn’t detect
it?

We also know the scientists on the Borealis performed their experiments and the
ship got sent somewhere, maybe Xen? Or maybe it just disappeared out of the time
loop? We know that during the course of Half-Life 2 Gordon takes seven days to travel
from Nova Prospekt back to City 17, a 'slow teleport' according to Dr Kleiner.


The Borealis contains something that Eli wishes Gordon to destroy for fear of a
repeat of the events at Black Mesa, Dr Kleiner feels it is destined to be a useful
asset in the future. The differing views between these two eminent scientists is
intriguing. Is caution the best bet, or should Gordon use whatever he can find on
the ship to aid in the destruction of the Combine once and for all?

Flora, Fauna and Everything Else
Enough of this speculation, Episode 3 will be set in an area of snow and
ice, this is going to pose some new gameplay challenges and maybe even some new
aliens. Who knows whether Ant-lions can survive in the cold? Headcrabs and Zombies
are a given, but many other creatures may be different.

How will the death of such a key character as Eli impact on the story, and more
importantly for some, on the relationship between Gordon and Alyx. What role is
the G-Man going to play, he seems to be getting a bit impatient with things not
progressing as he wants them to. His message he gives to Alyx, the same message
he gave to Eli back in Black Mesa may be a sign that he foresees grave peril in
the future, or maybe he is just toying with Alyx.

How things are likely to develop...
When we find out about the Borealis in Episode 2 this is from the transmission
Alyx intercepted from the Combine. Therefore we know the Combine have located the
vessel. They were extremely aggressive and put a lot of resources into attempting
to prevent this transmission getting back to the resistance and have hunted Alyx
desperately since the interception. We can assume the combine want to use the Borealis
and Aperture Science's possible developments in teleportation / portal technology
to bring extra troops to Earth to recapture it or evacuate. The latter...seems unlikely!


We have already seen some early concept art for the game.
The image from the ‘Into The Pixel’ exhibition shows Gordon challenging a Combine
Advisor in a heavily industrialised environment and earlier concept art from PC
Gamer US shows further Advisors around the Borealis. So expect a hugely exciting
episode 3 with the same fantastic Half-life formula with a mighty cold twist.
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