Half-Life 3 might be the vaporware of many a gamer’s dreams, but it may be that Valve did at least consider what the plot of such a game might be at one point. Former Valve writer, Marc Laidlaw, made a lengthy post on his site called “Epistle 3,” which features many hallmarks and story elements familiar to Half-Life fans. In-fact, if you sub out some of his gender-swapped names and characters, it quite quickly becomes clear that it’s a story outline for a sequel to Half-Life 2: Episode 2.
Although he himself describes the note as “fan fiction,” on his Twitter account, fans quickly figured out what he was up to. “Gertie Freemont,” is the Gordon Freeman character in the “Epistle,” and “Elly Vaunt” is Eli Vance. The “Hyperborea” is the Borealis research vessel which Half-Life and Portal fans will be aware of. With just a few tweaks, Laidlaw’s post becomes the missing ending to Gordon Freeman’s story.
The tale picks up at the end of Episode 2 and follows Freeman and Alex Vance as they discover the truth behind the Borealis and the scale of the Combine’s empire. We even get to meet the G-Man one more time as this era of the Half-Life series comes to a close.
Laidlaw previously worked on the original Half-Life, its sequel, and the following episodes, playing a key part in their stories. It makes sense that he would have had a hand in the story of a third main entry in the series, or at the very least the final Half-Life episode if it ever came to light. That hope seemed dashed when he left Valve in 2016 and his releasing of a suggested story doesn’t exactly encourage the idea that Valve has the game in the works.
However, the closing paragraph of the “Epistle,” gives a further hint as to why Laidlaw revealed the story in this form:
“And here we are. I spoke of my return to this shore. It has been a circuitous path to lands I once knew, and surprising to see how much the terrain has changed. Enough time has passed that few remember me, or what I was saying when last I spoke, or what precisely we hoped to accomplish. At this point, the resistance will have failed or succeeded, no thanks to me. Old friends have been silenced, or fallen by the wayside. I no longer know or recognize most members of the research team, though I believe the spirit of rebellion still persists. I expect you know better than I the appropriate course of action, and I leave you to it. Expect no further correspondence from me regarding these matters; this is my final epistle.”
As if speaking through “Freemont,” and reading between the lines, Laidlaw appears to be saying that times have changed and that if fans want a Half-Life 3 game, they’ll need to make it themselves.