Half-Life 2: Episode 3
First announced: May 2006
Since then, we’ve seen: A few pieces of concept art and very little else.
Why it’ll be delayed: Few developers have misunderstood the point of episodic game releases as badly as Valve has. Much as we love the studio that’s given us Left 4 Dead, Portal and endless Team Fortress 2 updates, they’ve spent more time developing the third chapter of Half-Life 2’s expansion than most developers spend making entirely new franchises. And that’s not too bad, assuming all that time in the oven leads to an amazing finale for the series, but it has left us wondering if HL2E3 will ever see the light of day at all.
That’s not to say there isn’t hope. Back in September, Valve director Gabe Newell said that “three pretty big surprises” were planned for the year ahead. Assuming the first two were DotA 2 and the Team Fortress 2 community-creation store (both announced the following month), we’ll be surprised if the third isn’t more details on Episode 3.
Above: Here’s a screen from Episode 2, in case you want to pretend
However, we’ll be even more surprised if those details include a 2011 release date. Valve seems to have its hands full with DotA 2, the multiplatform release of Portal 2 and (probably) a bunch more add-ons to its other existing games, and it’s not as if it hasn’t been busy cranking out new games for the last couple of years. Until we hear differently, we’re going to have to assume Episode 3 is still a ways off.
Best-case scenario (if we’re wrong): That third surprise will be that a dedicated team at Valve has secretly been hard at work on Episode 3 this whole time, and has in fact spent the last few months putting the finishing touches on an especially explosive finale. Also, Episode 3 will be the size of a full game, thus accounting for its endless development cycle. And because Valve is just that awesome, it’ll still sell Episode 3 for around 20 bucks.
Duke Nukem Forever
First announced: April 1997
Since then, we’ve seen: A handful of old (but impressive) game-footage demos, a smattering of laughable “screenshots.” And then, after the closure of 3D Realms, a clutch of leaked screenshots and some footage that made us mourn just a little for what had, until that point, been one of the internet’s longest-running jokes.
Oh, and then there was that one time at the 2010 Penny Arcade Expo when Gearbox showed up with a fully playable demo of the game and announced it was back on track for release, this time from a developer that actually had its shit together.
Why it’ll be delayed: Don’t give us that look. Yes, we know Duke Nukem Forever has reportedly been finished, and will be ready for reviewers in a matter of weeks. Yes, we’re aware that makes the odds that we’re right about this one especially slim.
There’s one important fact you may have missed: it’s Duke Nukem Forever. It is cursed. If the finished game were to suddenly be scrapped, rebuilt from scratch and delayed indefinitely for “reasons,” even with Gearbox at the helm, it would come as a surprise to absolutely nobody. A disappointment, sure, but not a surprise. Not to us, and certainly not to you, whether you want to admit it or not.
Best-case scenario (if we’re wrong): It’ll ship on time, neatly coinciding with the Duke Nukem franchise’s 20th anniversary. Also, Jesus will come back, dreams will become reality, mandatory PS3 firmware updates will cease and friendly dinosaurs will be cloned in a lab.
Probably none of that other stuff will happen, but we did say “best-case scenario.”
Jan 20, 2011
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