In response to a fan asking “will I be able to play a new chapter of Half-Life before my life ends?” Valve CEO Gabe Newell has said “just don’t die in the next five years or so.” He concluded his email reply with a winky face. A WINKY FACE.
The news comes to us in the latest episode of ‘Newell Emails’, a YouTube series by Tyler McVicker, who has built his channel on covering Valve’s games (check it out below). McVicker is in regular correspondence with Gabe and puts fan questions to him, reading out the responses. So Gabe definitely said this.
But before anyone leaps to the conclusion that “MEME MEME THREE CONFIRMED” or whatever, let’s remember a story from last November, when images of a Valve-built VR headset leaked onto the internet. Upload VR then claimed, via internal sources, to have verified not only the headset’s existence but that Valve would bundle it with its Knuckle VR controller and a Half-Life prequel. Note also that the email in McVicker’s video is dated November 8 – around the time these reports first surfaced.
I can see the wisdom of this. It sidesteps the impossible expectations of actually continuing the Half-Life saga while retaining the appeal of perhaps the most-romanticised IP in PC gaming.
The other possibilities include, as ever, another episode or a full-blown Half-Life 3, but if the decade and change since Half-Life 2: Episode 2 has taught us anything it’s that we should smother all hope of such things until they’re physically in our hands. Or in our Steam libraries, at least.
Half-Life 3 is, infamously, the rumour that never dies, and one of the last times it clawed its way from the grave was when Valve’s interest in VR became clear and everyone decided a new Half-Life would be its system seller, much like Half-Life 2 was for Steam. Valve then partnered with HTC to manufacture the Vive and no Half-Life game arrived.
Read more: the twisted, tragic story of Half-Life 3 in full (so far)
But the industry has learned a lot about VR since then, and the latest headsets, controllers, and games are already much-improved on what we saw four or five years ago. Could it be that Valve is now confident enough to put its biggest IP on an all-Valve headset, but as a prequel?
Maybe, just maybe, this is the time.
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