The connotations associated with the idea of Half-Life 3 are astounding. The concept has made people beg for $500,000 on the internet to force Valve to make it, it's made followers of the franchise despair every time they hear it's name and to many, it represents what the gaming community is missing the most. Why? Because linear single-player games are dead.
Half-Life 2 is the masterful FPS that it is for a reason. It re-evaluated gamer expectations when it came to single-player adventures. The campaign, the world, the characters, everything was so beautifully planned out and the execution was sublime. I can't offer this extreme high praise to any other linear FPS since. Though Bioshock comes close.
Half-Life 3 as Single-player
Modern gamers want variety. If a video game can be praised purely for its story, or scripted sequences and this is wherein the value lies, what does that do for a community of players that want something different when they or their friends play the same adventure?
If we look at the likes of Ubisoft's Far Cry 4 for example, just because it had a recent release date, this kind of single-player experience is far more dynamic than that of many others. The random encounters with the AI, be they human or animals, are interesting and varied enough to create variety and an individual experience.
Let's take a look at Valve's last singleplayer released to date, Portal 2. In the words of Gabe Newell:
Portal 2 will probably be Valve's last game with an isolated single-player experience...(modern gaming, it's) not about giving up on single-player at all...it's single-player plus, not no more singleplayer.
Valve has said from the beginning that they could have made mountains of money just staying as the developers who make Half-Life games alone. They made it distinctly clear that this was not what they were intending to do. Steam was a massive project they took on, and the've since moved on to pretty much just multiplayer experiences with the likes of Left 4 Dead 2 and Dota 2.
Let's face it, if Valve wanted to make an amazing Half-Life 3 single-player campaign with a great story, they would have done it years ago. They are clearly working on giving the game a system that is entirely original and deserving of the Half-Life title. Does this mean an increased emphasis on multiplayer? More than likely yes.
Now obviously a lot of companies are jumping on this band wagon, attempting to change their product, I mean Bungie are the biggest example at the moment with their highly flawed Destiny. Could Half-Life incorporate some of these elements into there game? Such as raids and social events. I can totally see that happening.
But naturally, when it comes to Half-Life, we know that Valve's focus is on the story. They aren't about to let that element slip away from us after we played possibly the greatest story driven franchise in gaming history. But in order for this to be the case, we may have to loose one thing: Gordon Freeman.
Let's face it, the silent protagonist just doesn't do it for the collective intellect in the gaming community these days. If we have a character who's decisions are based on our own choices, like in Mass Effect or Dragon Age: Inquisition, then the superior option is having that character voiced so that we feel connected to who we are.
It's amazing how connected we feel to Freeman, even though we never hear him speak or know exactly how he feels about anyone. These days are dwindling, and I'm tired of playing a faceless and emotionless character in a gaming narrative. It's important to connect with the characters of the world, particularly the one you play as.
Whether this means giving Gordon Freeman a personality (no please, don't wreck him!!) or, dare I say it, have you play as another protagonist in Half-Life 3, I can see the future of HL doesn't involve a Freeman lead.
To sum up, I don't think we'll ever get the Half-Life 3 experience that we expect, and that's why we love Valve. They are more than likely working on a game that can breathe new life into the franchise in a number of interesting ways, moving away from singleplayer as its focus. At this stage, all I want from them is to say that they are making it, then they can go and be silent some more, but at least I know something is on the way that can fill the void!
What do you guys think? Let me know what you believe Valve holds in the future for Half-Life 3 and Gordon Freeman!