Half-Life 3, episode or otherwise, isn't coming any time soon, but these map files show what might have been had Junction Point continued working on its own design.
Following the leak of a number of original map files from Half-Life 2 by an unknown individual, several images of a canceled Half-Life 2 episode in development at Epic Mickey creator, Junction Point Studios have been revealed. Much like the planned and canceled Episode 4, this one looked to take players back to Ranvenholm.
There’s still no concrete theory on why the Half-Life series remains unfinished, but we certainly know that there were several Valve planned episodes following the release of Half-Life 2: Episode 2, to fill in the gaps in the story. One of those was under development at Junction Point, a company that had previously worked on conceptual ideas as a Valve contractor.
It’s those concepts and level designs which have now come to light, including a snowy setting in one of the more iconic maps from the second Half-Life game: Ravenholm.
That zombie-infested township was clearly a major component of Half-Life design, as it not only featured in the second game and this conceptual episode, but was supposed to be a major component in a fourth episode that was planned for development at Arcane Studios, titled Return to Ravenholm (via Eurogamer).
Although there has been no official confirmation that the level files that turned up in this latest leak are from a Junction Point development, ValveTime’s detective work highlights that some of the level’s assets have a prefix in their names of “JPS.” That could well be an acronym of the studio’s name. There are also references to a magnet gun, which was a proposed tool/weapon that Junction Point Studios founder, Warren Specter, has previously discussed in interviews.
According to the map files, the level would have begun with the player crashing into a warehouse in a gondola, before waking up with two new characters named Duncan and Scooter. The local area featured a train station and several nearby buildings, with groups of rebels and Combine fighting in the street, so the conflict against that alien threat was still ongoing during that proposed episode.