One of this year’s biggest game releases was a long-awaited new title in the Half-Life universe: Alyx. This new title has had a massive effect on the sales of Valve’s Index VR gear right from the start – the news about it has cleared Valve’s warehouses of the product ahead of last year’s holiday season – and the game didn’t disappoint. It made good on its promise, bringing a new dimension to the world of Half-Life.
But Half-Life: Alyx is not the game we’ve been waiting for. Make no mistake, it is a welcome addition to the entire Half-Life storyline, showing us what happened while Gordon Freeman was… who knows where doing who knows what, but it doesn’t answer the big question left open by the last Half-Life game released more than a decade ago: now what?
The ending of “Alyx” makes it clear that the story will, indeed, continue. We’ll get more details and stories from the world overrun by the Combine in the Seven Hour War. We’ll have the chance to explore beyond the limits of City 17, perhaps see the post-apocalyptic sights of the top tourist attractions of the world. I, for one, would love to visit the deserted Red Square or the remains of the Statue of Liberty. But let’s take a look at what the sequels to the Half-Life saga may look like.
One of the things we can already know for sure about the hopefully upcoming Half-Life sequel is that it will be different from what we thought it would be. At the end of Half-Life 2: Episode Two, Eli Vance is killed by one of the Advisors busting into the hangar – but not before telling the two protagonists of the game, Dr. Freeman and Alyx, about the Borealis, a vanished Aperture Science vessel, and its “cargo,” whatever it may be.
The ending of Half-Life: Alyx changes things fundamentally. Spoilers!
After releasing the G-Man from the Vault, the mysterious suit offers Alyx the chance to alter a future event – namely the ending of Episode Two. Alyx takes the chance, kills the Advisor, and saves her father’s life. As a result, the G-Man takes Alyx as a replacement for Freeman, releasing the former Black Mesa researcher because he is “unsatisfied” with his services. The game’s post-credits scene returns to the hangar above, with Eli alive, Gordon there but Alyx missing. Eli vows to end the G-Man, and Dog – Alyx’s robot – arrives with Gordon’s crowbar in its manipulator. The scene promises at least a quest to find Alyx – hopefully, with some more information about who the G-Man’s mysterious “employers” may be.
After the release of Episode Two, it was an open secret that Valve is working on a conclusion. Then, in time, the rumors about the upcoming game have died down, and the finale was quietly canceled. Valve fell silent on the matter, continuing work on the Source 2 engine instead of a sequel to the series. In the years that have passed, Marc Laidlaw – the main writer of the Half-Life series – leaked pieces of information about the game’s universe, ultimately publishing a document called “Epistle 3”, thought to be the plot of Episode 3. His departure from Valve probably means his plot will not be used in any future games – although some of his ideas might. Let’s hope they do.
What seems to be clear from the ending of Half-Life: Alyx is that the creators at Valve are no longer bound by the storyline (or time and space). Alyx’s time jump made that abundantly clear. So, if there will ever be a Half-Life 3 (or whatever it will be called), the creators will be free to explore any direction, any dimension, and any timeline – so, expect to explore anything from a secret government facility to a far-off planet inhabited by even stranger (and more dangerous) aliens than ever before.