A few weeks ago, former Valve writer Marc Laidlaw released what he alleged was a script for Half-Life 2: Episode Three.
The unreleased game, arguably the most famous piece of vaporware in history, was originally slated to release sometime at the end of the 2000’s. Valve seemed proactive about the project at first, posting a few pieces of content art and even discussing the game openly in interviews, but gradually fell silent as time went on. 10 years later, the conclusion to the Half-Life 2 series of episodes remains unreleased. The summary that Laidlaw recently posted is not the conclusion that the Half-Life series deserves, but hopefully it provides some measure of closure.
The summary itself is written in code, with modified names for places and events in the series (Wallace Breen, for example, is referred to as Wanda Bree). Laidlaw most likely wrote the summary this way for copyright reasons, but it’s still easy for any Half-Life fan to follow. Half-Life 2: Episode Three’s story starts just after that massive cliffhanger at the end of Episode Two and sees series protagonists Gordon Vance and Alyx Freeman off to an arctic wasteland. Their mission is to salvage the Borealis, a ghost ship rumored to contain powerful portal technology.
Gordon and Alyx make it to the ship only to discover that the big bad Combine has beaten them to it. The alien overlords have also set up shop around the ship, which would’ve forced Gordon and Alyx to fight through them. The pair would then encounter a clone of Dr. Breen inhabiting the body of an Overseer (settling the long-disputed question of whether he survived the end of Half-Life 2). Gordon and Alyx would’ve then found Dr. Mossman, a supporting character from the previous games, and set the Borealis to explode so that the Combine couldn’t use its tech.
Here’s the kicker, though: apparently the series’ infamous G-man was set to appear at the end of the episode, but he would’ve taken off with Alyx instead of Gordon. Gordon would then be left to die on the ship, until the Vortigaunts showed up to (once again) save him from destruction at the last second. The game would’ve then ended with a final sign-off from the One Free Man himself, who would proclaim (verbally or in text) that his fellow rebels’ voices have fallen silent and that it’s up to the player to continue the struggle.
The Borealis is a ship belonging to Aperture Science. It is believed that they were experimenting with powerful portal technology. Since Black Mesa and Aperture are competing for the market Aperture threw caution to the wind and disregarded safety in an attempt to beat Black Mesa in the race for portal technology. Black Mesa did the same resulting in the Resonance Cascade. When Aperture Science proceeded with a test on the Borealis the entire ship disappeared along with part of the dry dock. The Combine pursued the Borealis to the arctic because they lack a local teleportation devise. They had built one at Nova Prospect from Judith Mossman's schematics but Gordon Freeman destroyed it.
Purely from a narrative standpoint, this summary shows a lot of promise. It’s worth remembering that this is not an official script from Valve, but rather a very unofficial summary released by one of the studio’s former writers. If the summary is to be believed, Half-Life 2: Episode Three would’ve tied up a few plot threads concerning Dr. Breen and Dr. Mossman, and ended the Half-Life 2 arc on a satisfactory note, albeit with room for future installments.
As for what other plans Valve may have had for the game (such as gameplay and level design), the world may never know. The script is mum on such details, preferring to focus on what could’ve been a climactic ending to the Half-Life series. An unofficial summary isn’t as satisfying as a fully realized game would’ve been, but considering how quiet Valve’s been on its flagship series… it’ll have to do for longtime fans.