At least 5 Half-Life projects were cancelled before Alyx, including Half-Life 3

(Image credit: Valve)

Half-Life: Alyx – Final Hours, Geoff Keighley's "multimedia experience" on the making of Valve's big VR shooter, is now live on Steam. The documentary promises "an unprecedented and unvarnished look at the past decade inside Valve," including a look at multiple cancelled projects—one of them actually named Half-Life 3—plus concept art from Alyx and interactive features including a "Valve Time" timeline and a headcrab SFX mixer.

The big eye-catcher is that a full-on Half-Life 3 was in development, briefly, between 2013-14. Valve wanted to blend procedural generation with "crafted experience" to make it more replayable, an idea inspired in part by Left 4 Dead. It was ultimately halted, though, because the Source 2 engine it was initially created in wasn't finished. 

A couple of Half-Life-themed VR projects, including one that sounds rather like the Episode 3 synopsis that former Valve writer Marc Laidlaw shared a few years ago, were also toyed with but ultimately cancelled, according to an IGN report on the documentary, which says that at least five Half-Life projects were proposed and dropped between Episde 2 and Alyx.

Other cancelled projects include an open-world go at Left 4 Dead 3, an Elder Scrolls/Dark Souls-inspired RPG codenamed "RPG," a Minecraft-style voxel game, and "Vader," Valve's original VR headset design, which the developers estimated would have sold for around $5000 each.

Most of the team wants to make a new, full Half-Life, but there's some doubt about whether Valve wants to take on a project of that magnitude, or if it's going to continue to focus on VR for the forseeable future. But the possibility is at least on the table. "The ice has been broken, now we're hoping to smash through the ice completely," Valve's Phil Co says. "We're not afraid of Half-Life no more."

Half-Life: Alyx – Final Hours is available now for $10/£7/€8 on Steam, and to be clear it does not require a VR headset.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.