Half-Life 2: Episode Three storyline speculation

Half-Life 2: Episode Three is going to be a massive deal. Not only will it conclude arguably the greatest FPS of all time (at least until Half-Life 3), but it will tie up the current chapter of one of the most intriguing, involving and well-told stories in gaming.

Decades of history, tightly-woven and complex personal relationships, an ongoing cosmic mystery… It’s all going to come to a head. But with so much still to address, how’s it going to go down? We had hoped that E3 was going to reveal some secrets, but alas it was not to be. So in compensation, join us as we power up the Speculatron for a few educated guesses.

The Borealis

The rediscovered Aperture Science ship is obviously going to be the crux of Episode Three, but how exactly? Given the significance of portals to the Combine invasion, the ship’s sudden disappearance from its dry-dock would imply that it’s packing a hugely scaled-up version of the technology we played with in Portal. With the main Combine super portal to Earth now out of action, it’s pretty clear why they would have tracked down Dr. Mossman after she found the ship’s location.

So, a heated race against time for control of the ship? No. We think it’s already too late for that. Time has passed since Mossman’s original communication regarding its discovery, and the Combine were already on top of her when she sent it. Plus, some of the Episode Three production art released by Valve shows the submerged Borealis already covered in Combine technology.

Instead, we reckon the ship will be the centre of a climax similar to that of the original Half-Life 2; a final, do-or-die battle that will end the current saga, and not in anything like a neat way. Aperture’s portal technology in Combine hands could lead to absolutely anything, including as big a scenario jump between Episode Three and Half-Life 3 as that between the original Half-Life and its sequel.

Speaking of Aperture technology, the question must be raised as to whether Portal guns will come into play. And no, we don’t think they will. Aside from the fact that they would change H-L 2’s gameplay too much at this late stage, they’d ruin Valve’s careful binding of player and protagonist by actually letting us see Gordon through the old magic doors, just as we could see Chell in Portal. But we do think (and hope) that we’ll come into contact with a version of GlaDOS, possibly even a pre-psychosis version given the ship’s isolation from the main Aperture HQ. She’s certainly referenced in Mossman’s smuggled blueprints.

The G-Man

Although we’ve never really known anything about him, looking through the developing sub-text of his scenes with Gordon throughout the series potentially reveals quite a lot. Via references to his “employers” and the several tempting offers he has received for Gordon’s “services”, he seems to be a neutral freelance talent agent, observing and recruiting promising individuals to insert and manipulate through major universal events on behalf of interested parties.

We know he gave Eli the crystal that caused the original Black Mesa incident, so he’s indirectly responsible for the Combine occupation. But at the same time, he seems to have been manipulating Gordon to overthrow the invaders, and admits to having saved the infant Alyx’s life against orders; seemingly so that she could help further down the line. These contradictions in his actions back up the theory that he’s been working from commissions and ‘investing’ in people for later jobs. But then there’s that scene from Episode Two. Refresh yourself with it below.

When the G-Man finally re-establishes contact with Gordon, his demeanour is strangely more relaxed, even slightly more human than before. He speaks even more rebelliously about those he works for and is far more open about having his own agenda, whatever it may be. That in mind, we have a feeling that his attempt to make direct contact with Eli through Alyx (Vance senior later revealed as the biggest player in this story other than Gordon) is his attempt to manipulate the end-game as an independent party. Indeed, it could be what he was saving her for. So while we don’t think we’ll know who he is by the end of Episode Three, we do think we’ll have a good idea of what he wants.

But then again, there’s always the semi-dubious fan theory that he’s actually Gordon from the future, manipulating things to make sure that he survives. But we don’t even want to get into that keg of worms.

Gordon and Alyx

With Eli’s death, it remains to be seen what role Alyx will play in Episode Three. We see one of two options. She’ll either be too devastated to follow Gordon to the Borealis (expecting her to leave mere seconds after witnessing her father’s brains sucked out would push stoicism to its limits), or she’ll go at the mission with berserker determination. Alyx is too real a character to simply stomp straight back into battle, Dominic Santiago-style, but at the same time we’ve already seen her react to personal trauma with resolute stubbornness. Remember her “KILL ‘EM ALL!” reaction to seeing a Hunter again after her recovery from the previous attack?

On balance, we think the Freeman/Vance partnership is going to continue, but not just for the reason above. We think Episode Three will see a big evolution of their relationship, even aside from the increasingly obvious “Will they?/Won’t they?” romantic subtext. When the Vortigaunts saved Alyx’s life in Episode Two, they alluded to using some of Gordon’s life force to do so, stating that they would “weave the Freeman’s life with hers”. If the two characters are now bonded on some sort of spiritual level, they’ll stick together. And having their life forces blended via Vortigaunt mysticism might end up having some very serious implications on the later story, maybe even the climax.


  • jdevlin535 - January 1, 2010 12:06 p.m.

    'Vagrant'I think youre wrong about the plot being unexplained and unsatisfying its actually a pretty good game but i accept that you dont know much about the (NOOB)
  • CrosseyedAnder - July 10, 2009 3:33 p.m.

    I still love playing HL1 and HL2 on my PC from time to time, but honestly I have never played those Episodes and followed those games. It seems only something to further the game selling. I am still waiting something that arise my curiosity.
  • TheCommunist - June 26, 2009 6:09 p.m.

    This article confused the shit out of me. and now with all the comments I dont know what to believe. It would be cool to see the G-Man as a helping hand throughout the rest of the series, only to turn his back on you like sadistic bastard he appears as. And then you have to kill him. chea!LoL
  • snowycrazyking - June 19, 2009 1:06 a.m.

    Man I really did forget how much I loved the Half-Life series. There is such an awesome cast of characters, the one thing I want changed is I want less vehicle action; I don't know if anyone else agrees with me but I just never liked the vehicle's in the Half-Life games. But, either way I trust Valve and know that they won't rush this game, they'll release it when its the best game they can make. @ xXHaloKillerXx. Why would you come on a forum for a game series you don't like you moron? Is your life really that meaningless that when your not playing the mindless crap that is Halo 3 you just go around flaming on forums. It is just sad that this how you decide to spend your time instead of playing/discussing games you actually enjoy.
  • lovinmyps3 - June 18, 2009 8:07 p.m.

    lets hope this doesnt turn into another duke nukem forever thing
  • lukel127 - June 18, 2009 4:48 p.m.

    I heard that portal 2 was set in the past, so my prediction is that valve will make an orange box 2, and gordon and the new portal player will meet.
  • nadrewod999 - June 18, 2009 3:04 p.m.

    Also, @disturbedanomaly36, the Companion Cube and Chell are characters from the ORANGE BOX or PORTAL, NOT HL! In fact, the only true relationships Half-Life and characters in Portal have in common are: a few references in game (see ship section of this article), they became a package deal with the Orange Box, and they were all produced by Valve. You can say that those are your favorite Orange Box characters, BUT NOT HALF-LIFE!
  • DaNtHeManIsHeRe - June 18, 2009 8:19 a.m.

    i was thinking the other day - could the Gman be a highly advanced GlaDOS? listen to the way both of them talk... same kind of mechanical word fumbling isnt there? and notice how he seems to become more fond of gordon as the story progresses, just like GLaDOS seems almost obsessed with chell. its just a theory of course.
  • DRILLERDUD - June 17, 2009 6:41 p.m.

    As strange as it sounds, I'm actually glad that Valve is taking some time to finish up the INCREDIBLE Half-Life series. It just let's me know that they aren't just gonna put something out and get on to bigger plans. That, in my opinion, is the true quality of a great game developer.
  • ryno - June 17, 2009 2:23 a.m.

    come on valve make Gordon talk already
  • Failureisinevitable - June 17, 2009 12:15 a.m.

    Okay, I heard that Chell is supposed to make an appearance in Episode 3, and I agree with Rad_Bracket. If you looked around before your battle with GLaDOS there are steam pumps and air canisters in the factory-area, so why couldn't the Aperture location BE the Borealis?
  • BlupHox - July 8, 2014 5:15 a.m.

    You're a noob?? Can't you see at ending of Portal there's some trees and cars, no Borealis & shit.
  • MechGyver - June 16, 2009 10:42 p.m.

    HOLY SHIT!!!! @currie, you just ruined Valve´s super secret plot
  • Defguru7777 - June 16, 2009 8:28 p.m.

    Damn L4D2, I just want Episode 3 dammit!!
  • PinkLenny - June 16, 2009 8:10 p.m.

    I would say, that I would bet 40 dollars that Adrian Shephard will be in episode 3
  • NipplesTheSuperHippo - June 16, 2009 6:18 p.m.

    Lamarr FTW!!! But seriously though, I have no clue on what Valve is going to do. I don't think it is representative of what Valve has become, but the L4D 2 announcement could mean something is going down on the inside. Most likely it just is they had a bunch of updates to the game that couldn't have been put to the original game so they made a second. With that said, we all know HL 2 ep. 3 is going to be epic, but how epic is my question? This article is pretty epic in itself.
  • Rad_Bracket - June 16, 2009 5:58 p.m.

    Has anyone considered the possibility that the Aperture facility from Portal was the Borealis. At the end of Portal you set of some huge spatial event and that could have been what teleported the Borealis to its new location. If it was some kind of near future super tanker I see no reason it couldn’t be the facility from Portal.
  • Ravenbom - June 16, 2009 5:41 p.m.

    I'd just like to see Episode 3 at this point. I've given up hope on the Half Life series giving me any kind of resolution, I just want to see this chapter closed for now, so I can wet myself when Half Life 3 comes out.
  • AA95mp - June 16, 2009 4:13 p.m.

    i have been sooooooo long for a article like this personaly i think lamarr will end up saving the day and attempt to couple with g-mans head :D.
  • lava_lamp - June 16, 2009 3:56 p.m.

    G-Man is the best character in the Half-Life series in my opinion

Showing 1-20 of 47 comments

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