When people talk about 'breaking the internet' it tends to be in reference to celebrities, viral events or Kim Kardashian's arse. Images or events which go viral across various social media platforms and news outlets to the point where you can't escape hearing about them for a day or two, but are largely underwhelming and soon forgotten.
There's one thing that would quite possibly eclipse all other 'internet breaking' events though, something which fans have been waiting for for nearly a decade now, and that's an official line on the Half-Life 3 release date.
At this point is there any game that could live up to the expectations set for Half-Life 3? It's been eight years and 16 days now since it's predecessor, Half-Life 2: Episode 2 was released and left us on yet another cliffhanger in the story of Gordon Freeman. Since then fans have scoured the internet and constantly harangued Gabe Newell / Gaben for any information about the next instalment in the Half-Life franchise, despite the Valve Managing Director's side-stepping of the question.
Recent news, as little as it is, doesn't exactly have us holding our breath though...
It's Not Happening Anytime Soon (If At All)
Pretty much anytime a Valve exec gets asked about the mythical Half-Life 2: Episode 3/Half-Life 3 we get the same answer: be patient, we're not working on it now or anytime soon, but be patient.
But every time Newell or any other Valve employees answer the question we take solace in the fact that at least they haven't told us that it's not happening. This vaporware-like tactic wears thinner and thinner with each passing E3 until we wonder if we're not just the victims of the biggest troll of the past decade.
According to Counter Strike co-creator Minh Le, Valve is currently focusing their development on the next instalment in the Left 4 Dead series, Left 4 Dead 3, and while he also claims to have seen some concept art for Half-Life 3, that's not exactly huge news given that there's been bits of that floating around the net for years (though how much of it is genuine remains to be seen).
Newell Talks Half-Life 3
In an interview earlier this year the billion-dollar Gabe Newell was again asked the million-dollar question, and his response was less than optimistic:
"The only reason we'd go back and do like a super classic kind of product is if a whole bunch of people just internally at Valve said they wanted to do it and had a reasonable explanation for why [they did]...
But you know if you want to do another Half-Life game and you want to ignore everything we've learned in shipping Portal 2 and in shipping all the updates on the multiplayer side, that seems like a bad choice. So we'll keep moving forward. But that doesn't necessarily always mean what people are worried that it might mean."
So, okay, again he didn't deny that Half-Life 3 will ever see the light of day, but he doesn't sound particularly enthused about it either, right?
It's been widely speculated that the reason there's little news on the Half-Life 3 side is because Valve are too busy making huge profits from Steam, DOTA 2 micro-transactions and their other popular franchises; Left 4 Dead, Portal, Counter-Strike, Team Fortress etc. This is a feeling that Newell's comments regarding Portal 2 and multi-player updates certainly seem to chime with, making it less likely that we'll ever see Half-Life 3 clawing through to the light of day.
The DOTA 2 Rumours
It might not all be bad though, as the recent popular rumour is that update files that may hint at Half-Life 3 have been found in the most recent DOTA 2.
The recent update files include one labelled hl3.txt, and the contents within (see above) include a couple of references to the Combine, which could be Half-Life tease.
It's a very tenuous link though, and though this would be a cool way of letting fans know that the project is still going ahead all the other evidence seems to point to the contrary. And Valve have always liked sneaking in cross-game references in their releases, just as Aperture Science linked Half-Life and Portal. So again, I wouldn't hold my breath on this rumour.
In the meantime though there's always some really cool fan-made concept art by Black Ops III designer Shane Baxley for us to look at whilst we lament what could've been.