In August 2017, Marc Laidlaw, the former Valve writer of the entire Half-Life series, penned a tongue-in-cheek storyline entitled Epistle 3 on his website, which fans saw as his interpretation of what Valve may have planned for Half-Life 2: Episode 3 (aka Half-Life 3). Most people, myself included, saw this as closure on one of the Internet’s longest-running mysteries. Others, however, saw the missive as Laidlaw throwing down the gauntlet, resulting in unforeseen consequences and the formation of two disparate teams of Half-Life fans announcing plans to bring Epistle 3 to life as a brand new episode.
We’ve Been Waiting For Half-Life 3 Since 2007
Half-Life was launched in 1998, Half-Life 2 in 2004 and Episodes One and Two a couple of years later. Since that time, the rumour mill has never stopped grinding away and apart from Black Mesa, the Half-Life total remake, the entire Half-Life series seemed doomed to remain in developer purgatory. Then everything changed when Laidlaw published his mischievous scribblings in 2017, with the Project Borealis and Borealis Alyph teams being formed in roughly the same timeframe. Both are described as teams of around 70 people, including programmers, artists, voice actors and such like, with clear intentions to finally bring the myth to reality. However, there is one big difference between the two teams, namely the game engine which may be a bone of contention for Valve in the coming months or years.
This team is using Unreal Engine 4 to bring the game to life and that single aspect has been criticised by many Half-Life purists as sacrilegious, believing they should stick with Valve’s own Source Engine, a view that I personally disagree with. However, many are pointing out that Valve may use its powers to kill the project for that very reason, possibly citing copyright infringement as an excuse for not using Valve’s own Source Engine – who knows? Either way, Project Borealis intends to release a tech demo and they post the most recent game updates on Discord, which you can find at Discord Project Borealis, a medium that appears to be much more current than their website. A performance test is also available for download.
Anyway, here’s their latest update, not forgetting that anything Half-Life related has an uncanny knack of distorting time as we know it.
KAFF (Keep Away From Fire) is the team developing Boreal Alyph using the Source Engine because, in their own words, “We want Boreal Alyph to feel like it belongs in the episodic series. Moving to another engine would make that more difficult to do so.” In fact, the team is making improvements to the creaking Source engine for a smoother graphical experience as can be seen in this asset showcase video.
There never really is a conclusion in the Half-Life universe and as I’ve already mentioned, development time on anything related to this game tends to become elastic. Black Mesa, for example, was stuck in a time warp, having been first announced in 2004, but not released until 2012 and the final level, Xen still hasn’t seen the light of day, having initially been teased for early 2019. Whilst I’m excited at the prospect of seeing Gordon Freeman once again don his HEV suit, it wouldn’t be wise to hold one’s breath for too long.