A new Half-Life game could be coming – but it’s not what you think

In the 14 years since the release of Episode 2 of Half-Life 2, a question has been on the lips of fans: “When is Half-Life 3 coming out?” Yes, 2020 saw Half-Life: Alyx, a virtual reality experience only set before Half-Life 2, but given the small percentage of players with the necessary hardware to run the title, that hasn’t come close to scratch the itch for all.

Well, there’s good news and bad news according to Valve News Network’s Tyler McVicker: Half-Life 3 isn’t currently in development, but the company is working on another spin-off “with the Steam Deck at the mind, because of the way the game is meant to be controlled.

Let’s get rid of the bad news first. In the video titled “What’s next for Gordon Freeman – The State of Half-Life, “McVicker isn’t pulling any punches at the limited Half-Life 3 prospect emerging anytime soon.

“No, right now there is no major development team working on anything other than the few software designed specifically for hardware,” he explained.

“Right now Valve is trying to release the Steam Deck and, as a lot of people have observed, the Steam Deck has been a lot more successful than originally expected, so Valve is putting a lot of effort into it.”

“No type of traditional first-person shooter with mouse and keyboard takes place at Valve,” he concluded.

That said, a little footnote has been added at the bottom of the screen to soften it slightly: “There is a very minor band working on HL3 at the time of recording. So a little long-term hope there, maybe.

So what is this Half-Life spin-off then? Well, it’s definitely different – Half-Life: Citadel. Citadel is, according to McVicker, “a party of nostalgia” designed to showcase the capabilities of Steam Deck: a “half-life-based, co-op-based FPS / RTS hybrid.”

What would it look like? “Think of Left 4 Dead and Alien Swarm and an RTS and Half-Life all having babies.” While much of the team has moved on to support Steam Deck’s final push, this is something we should see in the next and a half to two years, apparently.

Supposedly, there was originally to be an optional VR element as well, but this was dropped as Valve apparently loses interest in VR in general. On that note, McVickers is also pessimistic about the future of HLX – a project to create a VR title like Half-Life: Alyx for much weaker standalone hardware. He believes it is in such a nascent state that he will fall victim to the “winter vacation syndrome” where he falls through the cracks after an extended vacation from the office.

This is in large part due to the unusual way Valve is structured, where employees have some freedom to choose what they work on, as discussed in the podcast Reply to all recent examining the so-called “bot crisis” of Team Fortress 2. Everything is there in black and white in the employee manual available free of charge in the company.

This makes it difficult to know exactly what Valve will do next, which is good news for those still languishing after Half-Life 3. But for now at least, it looks like the next big release will be adjacent to Half-Life, but not the game you expect.

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