I have a very simple and modest proposal concerning Half-Life 2 Episode 3. I’m sure most of my readers here know what Episode 3 is, so I’m just going to cut to the chase: let’s pretend it doesn’t exist. Never has, and more importantly, never will.
Whenever any shred of information concerning the developments of a Valve title sees the light of day, thousands of people immediately jump to the same tired reaction: “Yes, that’s cool and all, but what about Episode 3?” Gabe Newell could quite literally announce they’ve assembled a team of high-class escort ladies (and gentlemen, or in some special cases, Gabe himself) ready to reward players who have made it to the end of their previously released titles in a hotel room filled with a near bottomless supply narcotics of choice, and the first response would still be: “Okay, cool. But how about that Episode 3 you promised us?”
Look, I know. You want Episode 3. We all want Episode 3. But this is getting ridiculous. What’s even worse is that this kind of build-up is only going to make it more awkward when the game is released and it’s anything but the cultural high-point of our entire civilization. We’re talking Duke-o-logical implications here.
Let’s look at the facts here for a moment. Half-Life 2 was released in 2004. Episode 1 was released in 2006. Episode 2 was released in 2007. And let’s just remember that this episodic content module was created with the intent of releasing strong and short gameplay segments over a short time period. And yes, I know, Valve released Team Fortress 2, L4D, L4D2, Portal, Portal 2 in the meantime. Heck, they’ve touched up on Team Fortress 2 so much now, it’s almost a completely separate game from the original release. Even keeping Valve Time in mind, Episode 3 seems to be taking forever.
Try to imagine what would happen if, by some miracle, Episode 3 still sees the light of day this gaming generation. And the game, just like Duke Nukem Forever, feels dated, and seems awkwardly fitted together because of its overly long development time. That’d be two major let-downs of epic proportions in a single generation. The amount of geek rage would cause the entire dimension to tear at the seams.
Do you want to be responsible for the universe falling apart?
No, I thought not.
Although some of you might be so far gone already that a universe without Episode 3 would not be a universe you want to live in. I’m sure you’ll find something else to obsess over. Like an Episode 3 themed hat in Team Fortress 2! That should keep you busy for a while.
Now that leaves the rest of you. The ones wondering where this whole “let’s just never mention Episode 3 ever again” thing is going. It’s not really going anywhere. I’m just warning you not to tear apart reality as we know it by being an obsessed fanboy if the game ever sees the light of day. Maybe somewhere along the way you could try enjoying all that cool stuff Valve keeps doing without immediately demanding something you technically do not have any right to demand.
Also, if you need extra encouragement, Valve would seriously wonder what the heck is up if you’d stop talking about Episode 3 at every twist and turn. Maybe enough encouragement to leave their snack bar, stop looking staring at those ever-increasing Hat2Cash number generator, and actually get working on Episode 3 again.
But by then we won’t even know what it is anymore. It’s a relic from another time. Only historians will remember what this thing is that’s been released. If they ever introduce something as silly as pop culture historians.