The history of video games is filled with projects that never became actual products. Just think of games like Batman: Gotham by Gaslight or Alien: Crucible, a would-be RPG set in the dark, xenomorph-infested world of the franchise. Every genre, from triple-A games to the slot machines you can play at CryptoThrills is riddled with titles that never got released. And the Half-Life franchise is not an exception.
The Half-Life series currently has four major versions (if we include Alyx) and several official expansions. Unfortunately, it is unfinished to this day, with one of the biggest cliffhangers still unresolved in the franchise.
Half-Life: Hostile Takeover
Half-Life: Opposing Force was one of the most beloved expansions for the original game. And it was successful enough – or so it seemed – to warrant a sequel. Called Half-Life: Hostile Takeover, the game was in the works at 2015 Games (known for Medal of Honor: Allied Assault). Sierra – the publisher behind the franchise at the time – planned for the game to be released in late August 2000… but then, just weeks before the planned release, Sierra announced that the game was canceled.
The expansion would’ve left Black Mesa – it would’ve taken place in a facility called “Allied Processing” and its protagonist would’ve been a junior G-man defending the facility from the government agents (probably the Hazardous Environment Combat Unit – the one Corporal Shephard was a part of).
In Half-Life 2, we had a chance to find out why people don’t go to Ravenholm anymore – it was a segment of the game that set aside its alien sci-fi shooter roots, diving deep into the horror genre.
Valve intended to develop the segment into a standalone game. Junction Point Studios, the studio founded by Deus Ex creator Warren Spector, worked on it for about a year bringing back the slightly wacky shotgun-wielding priest Father Grigori, then, as Valve became uninterested in the project, they dropped it. The project was then taken over by Arkane Studios of Prey fame, who built a game with Adrian Shephard (from Opposing Force) as a protagonist, and, of course, Father Grigori.
Ultimately, this project was dropped, too – possibly because Valve found it a bit too expensive.
Half-Life 2: Episode Three
This is perhaps the most painful Half-Life game that never was. At the end of Half-Life 2: Episode Two, we parted ways with Gordon Freeman and Alyx Vance in a desperate moment, with Dr. Vance revealing in his dying breath the existence of the Borealis, a research ship operated by Aperture Science, that vanished as a result of a dangerous experiment.
Gordon Freeman’s next quest should’ve been to head to the Arctic and destroy the Borealis at all costs so it won’t trigger another Seven Hour War.
Unfortunately, we never got to explore the frozen wasteland because Half-Life 2: Episode Three was never released. Some concept art from the game was leaked following the release of Episode Two, then Valve went completely silent about the project. Gamers speculated that the developer was working on Half-Life 3 but this was never confirmed.
Ultimately, the game was silently canceled sometime before 2011.