Marc Laidlaw’s ‘Epistle 3’ provides a bittersweet closure to the Half-Life story

“After Orange Box we have to get episode 3 out, we know how the trilogy ends, and there are a bunch of loose ends and narrative arcs that need to come to a conclusion”

Gabe Newell, IGN, August 2007

Thoughts on Laidlaw’s plot outline for Half-Life 2: Episode 3. 

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Born.

It’s an interesting parallel that Alyx is saved by G-Man in what I can only imagine is the culmination and intense climax of episode 3’s possible end under lead writer Marc Laidlaw’s guise.

I can’t help but imagine that a fitting end would have been Gordon’s inevitable demise saving the world one last time. Evidently from the effective ‘war note’ perspective that Laidlaw wrote the piece this couldn’t have logically worked, but that would have been such a gut-punch to see a character we loved so dearly vanishing to safety before you, and then having to make peace and eventually accept fate, having escaped it many times before only to be resurrected in the name of more turmoil. Not this time. Gordon can’t escape every time. The moments of silence and environmental storytelling in Half-Life are a part of what make the series so great, and this would have been a powerful moment to go out on.

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One of my many treasured memories. Mr Gnome here joined our company for as long as I could keep him under enemy fire. His whereabouts are currently unknown.

The main thing that gets me as a fan not being able to see this vision come to fruition is the crossover in lore between the different Valve series’, and how that would have culminated and paid off in the third instalment. Exploring the Borealis and getting that environmental payoff in the form of Aperture motifs and robotics akin to GLADOS would have been a real treat. Instead those intricacies (many of which are the reason I fell in love with the series) are understandably glossed over in order to serve the basic referential purpose of the cut and dry turn of events. Ironically fitting, as Gordon is known to be a man of few words and in his mind those nuances aren’t worth mentioning in what Laidlaw envisages as his final correspondence with the outside world.

Portal

My P-Body action figure stands proudly on my shelf next to my Gordon Freeman, a daily reminder of what could have been. THIS COULD BE US GABE BUT YOU PLAYIN’

I adore Valve, and I can only hope that we see more of Freeman in the future, whether that be with a completely different plot to the one outlined by Marc, or one similar. What with the news of the game’s dormancy and the radio silence from Valve, I had thought about perhaps a novel or book release containing the conclusive story and perhaps the concept art and information, and this is ostensibly that in its rawest form. I can happily accept that as a pleasant surprise in what has probably been one of the greatest (if not THE greatest) years in the history of video games. Thanks Marc!

You can read ‘Epistle 3’ here

“Half-Life 1 was a year late, Half-Life 2 was a year late, Half-Life 2: Episode 3 where is it? So we tend to view ourselves as subject to valid criticism on our ability to manage our schedules”

Gabe Newell, Machinima, September 2009

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