“Soon.” The unofficial slogan of the Valve Corporation. It also happens to be a fairly popular internet meme, thanks to the perceived tardiness of almost any third installment to a Valve game series. Ever since the cancellation of Half-Life 2: Episode 3 and Episode 4, Valve has maintained that a third full installment has been in various stages of development. However, 11 years after the release of Half-Life 2, we still have seen nothing definitively proving the existence of Half-Life 3. Perhaps Valve is too busy launching their line of PC-Console hybrids, running Steam, or managing their lucrative virtual hat economy in Team Fortress 2…or perhaps they are tired of Half-Life…
If the latter assumption proves to be correct, a joking comment from Naughty Dog creative director Neil Druckmann can be the saving grace for crowbar-touting fans throughout the world. While likely just a humorous poke at Valve on Twitter, Druckmann suggested Valve give the license to Half-Life 3 to the studio famous for The Last Of Us and the Uncharted series. If this were to actually occur it raises two huge questions:
- Would Naughty Dog provide a quality Half-Life experience?
- In short, that would seem a safe bet. The studio is renowned for producing highly story-driven products, and in the wake of massive critical acclaim for The Last Of Us they would likely attempt to recreate this with Half-Life. This, however, brings in a new set of problems since the style of these two games is fairly different. The Last Of Us relies heavily on cinematic cutscenes and dialogue (players learn by characters telling them about it), while Half-Life has been a bit more about atmosphere and exploration (players learn by exploring their environment and discovering clues). Yes, Half-Life 2 has its fair share of dialogue, but there are few cinematic-style cutscenes and it focuses more on player interaction. This leads to question two:
- Does Half-Life deserve a stylistic change?
- In terms of storytelling, why not? While both essentially glorified rail-shooters in their own way, Half-Life 2 has a vastly different setting than its predecessor and features more dialogue. In both games – and the two episodic follow-ups – protagonist Gordon Freeman does not speak. If Naughty Dog were to develop Half-Life 3 in a similar vein to The Last Of Us, Freeman would likely have a voice of his own for the first time. Not only that, but full cinematic cutscenes could be used. While this will no doubt disturb some long-time fans, it may simply be a refreshing change to the series that gives Half-Life 3 a life of its own.
Whatever may happen regarding the long-overdue Half-Life 3, Naughty Dog would surely be a viable choice for a second-party developer. Who knows, maybe this will usher in a new unprecedented era of Valve IPs receiving more than a single sequel – fingers crossed for Portal 3…
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