Former Half-Life writer Marc Laidlaw may have just revealed the plot of Half-Life 2: Episode 3 on his personal website.
In a post titled “Epistle 3,” Laidlaw delivers what seems to be a summary of Gordon Freeman’s long-delayed adventure in the form of correspondence from someone named “Gertrude Fremont.”
“I hope this letter finds you well,” the message begins. “I can hear your complaint already, ‘Gertie Fremont, we have not heard from you in ages!’ Well, if you care to hear excuses, I have plenty, the greatest of them being I’ve been in other dimensions and what not, unable to reach you by the usual means. This was the case until eighteen months ago when I experienced a critical change in my circumstances and was redeposited on these shores. In the time since, I have been able to think occasionally about how best to describe the intervening years, my years of silence.”
Laidlaw left Valve in 2016 after nearly two decades with the company, and the remaining portions of the letter detail what appears to be Gordon Freeman’s final adventure (closing with concession about the situation surrounding Episode 3 and Valve itself).
The story of “Epistle 3” showcases the journey of Gertrude Fremont and Alex Vaunt to the Antarctic to find the mysterious ship is known as the Hyperborea — rach of the aforementioned characters are meant to be stand-ins for Gordon Freeman, Alyx Vance and the Borealis, the research vessel designed by Aperture Science that was revealed in Half-Life 2: Episode 2. During the adventure, they encounter the Disparate (Combine), Dr. Wanda Bree (a revived Dr. Wallace Breen) and Mrs. X (the G-Man).
After the funeral of Eli Vance, Gordon and Alyx fly to the Antarctic in search of the Borealis, with members of the Resistance in tow. Gordon and Alyx’s plane is shot down, but they manage to reach the research vessel, only to discover the Combine have erected a massive base around the Borealis. The Borealis phasing in and out of existence. The Combine are studying it whenever it materializes.
Gordon and Alex encounter Dr. Breen, whose consciousness has been implanted into a giant slug-like creature by the Combine. Breen begs the two to end his grotesque existence. The two also rescue Dr. Judith Mossman from a Combine prison and board the Borealis. The ship continues to shift through time and space, and the trio witness the Seven Hour War and travel to alien worlds.
Mossman and Alex argue over what to do with the Borealis. Mossman believes the ship should be delivered to the Resistance where it can be studied. Alex wants to destroy it, per her father Eli’s wishes. Alex kills Mossman and arms the Borealis to self-destruct, with the intention of destroying the heart of the Combine’s invasion nexus.
The G-Man appears. Alex recognizes him from her childhood and the two depart this reality together, leaving Gordon behind. As the Borealis approaches its target, Gordon sees the Combine world protected by a Dyson sphere and realizes the futility of their attempt.
The Vortigaunts appear and once again rescue Gordon from imminent doom, returning him to Earth.
Details in “Epistle 3” seem consistent with rumored details about Episode 3. Official artwork from the third Half-Life 2 episode (above) appeared to show the Borealis being observed by the Combine.
Laidlaw has labeled the story as “fanfic” (fan-fiction) on Twitter, calling the transcript “a genderswapped snapshot of a dream I had many years ago.”
He also addressed the mysterious relationship between The G-Man and Alyx Vance, saying “I had no fixed ideas about this. Just planting seeds.”
“That is something Valve might still want to develop, flesh out and explain someday,” he said.
The Half-Life series has been a hallmark of PC gaming since 1998, with the release of the original game for PC. It would go on to be a classic, inspiring a new generation of first-person shooter games like Bungie’s Halo. It’s sequel, Half-Life 2, was released for the PC in the Fall of 2004 and the Xbox in 2005. Two expansions, Episode 1, and 2 were released in 2006 and 2007 respectively.