The lights are on
Power Member - Level 10
First, let's forget about Episode 3 (in light of the latest rumour) since Valve had already said they are done with episodic model of content release. So what can Half-Life 3 possibly be? I wonder at it and probably Valve do too. After all, the expectations are as high as they can get, something similar to what they were with Super Mario Bros. 3 from what I can understand. In this post I look at what Half-Life 3 might be.
I expect there to be very little change to the presentation. Every major developer out there has a trademark style of presenting their games. Valve do it with the faceless and silent protagonist, no cutscenes, and scripted events. That style hasn't changed over the years and I don't see the need for it to change. However, considering this is a traditional first person shooter, unlike Portal, there is a possibility that some may look down upon the implementation of scripted sequences. If that is the case, it would be because of the irrational hatred for Call of Duty. But I expect Valve to stick to their guns here.
The story itself has been very good so far, with the Episode 2 ending on a shocker. The list of characters in Valve games is usually small. I would like it if they expanded the cast of characters in the next game, not by a huge amount but they at least need to fill the void left by Eli. The original game did not have many characters, but they did a fantastic job with character development in later instalments, especially with Alyx. If Portal 2 is any indication, I expect at least one additional memorable character in the next game. One thing we can be sure of is some solid background behind the Combine and its terrible Advisors. And hopefully the G-Man as well.
I think they need a new engine for this game. While Source has had a very healthy life span, it survived because of the fidelity of the engine and the art style they use in their games. The engine may still be very relevant in terms of gameplay mechanics but if the game looks visually poor by current standards, then there is need for a new engine. My guess is that Half-Life 3 will be the first game to run on their new engine whenever it comes out. Since Valve are now in console space as well, this could mean they may be waiting for the next generation of consoles. From a development perspective it would make sense for them to create a new engine to go with new hardware. It is not that far-fetched to imagine Valve sticking to the Source engine for the rest of this console cycle.
This is where Valve are masters of their trade. From corridor shooting to big open battles, from zombies to Striders, from physics based puzzles to combat, Valve's fame is well deserved. The controls are near perfect with great weapons and feedback. Again, there is not much to improve here with the exception of new weapons (EDIT: and finding ways to fight the Advisors). One valid question is how console gamers might react to a shooter without iron sights. I imagine Counter Strike: Global Offensive will give some answers.
The biggest question that could be in front of Valve might be the inclusion of multiplayer. Will the game have co-op? To me, multiplayer or co-op seems out of place with this game, at least on the surface. But considering shooters are now generally valued based on their multiplayer content, how would a single-player-only game perform? Valve can do online, perhaps better than anyone out there, but will they take the chance with Half-Life 3? There is, of course, Half-Life Deathmatch and Half-Life 2: Deathmatch, but it will be very interesting to see if they have multiplayer built-in.
Well, those are my thoughts for now. As much as I want the game released right away, I think it will be released next console cycle. Still, I don't have much to complain: between Portal 2, Team Fortress 2 and Dota 2, they haven't been sitting idly.