Unseen concept art for Half-Life released – including a spin-off that never came out

Many Half-Life projects never came to fruition, from Half-Life 2: Episode 3, to individual products that never reached development. Thanks to some new concept art, we at least know what they might look like.

2K developer and Half-Life fan David McGreavy (via Kotaku ) has released a selection of never-before-seen images from the highly-anticipated Half-Life 2: Episode 3 — confirming some already-publicized plot points — not to mention a game idea that never saw the light of day world.

Although McGreavy never worked on Half-Life 2, he became an avid collector and ended up in possession of concept art that gives us a glimpse into the Half-Life 2 chapter that never came to light.

Back in April, McGreevy teased the never-before-seen artwork when he began cataloging his Valve collection with new additions from a former Valve employee looking to downsize his collection. The most interesting part is the snail-like creature in the upper left.

This is the “BreenGrub” – a large, slug-like creature that fans will recognize almost immediately due to its name. Half-Life 2 villain Dr. Wallace Breen appears in Half-Life 2 and is seen falling to his death after Gordon Freeman destroys the reactor atop the Citadel. During episodes 1 and 2, he only appears in flashbacks. However, it appears that he would return in Episode 3 after a video in Episode 2 mentioned transferring into a “host body”. It’s just not the kind of host’s body he might have preferred.

The once-human Dr. Breen would transfer his consciousness into a slug-like creature at the behest of the Combine – becoming a prisoner who would be found by Alix and Gordon during the events of Episode 3. How would I know that? Well, this gorgeous (but rather crude) concept art confirms a plot revealed by former Half-Life 2 writer Mark Laidlaw before he left the company in 2016.

The plot, as revealed by Laidlaw, would see characters Alyx and Gordon travel to the Borealis, an Aperture Science ship in a constant state of constant flux, gradually appearing and disappearing. The combine, which has set up a base around him, has meanwhile transferred Breen’s mind into the aforementioned slug-like creature…and asks Alyx and Gordon to kill him.

Although Laidlaw claimed his version of events was “0% official” after he left the company, it’s still a fascinating look at what might have been.

Additionally, McGreavy released scans of other concept art for Half-Life 2: Episode 3, which features post-apocalyptic vistas and a coastline covered in debris.

However, the two pieces of concept art showing Alyx Vance and a robot companion, Dog, weren’t from Episode 3 at all. Instead, McGreavy told Kotaku that it was part of a spin-off attempt that would be completely separate from both Half-Life 2: Episode 3, as well as from the never-released Half-Life 3.

We can only guess what that separation might be for now.

Half-Life 2 was a landmark moment in game development, with IGN’s review saying, “It set the standard in all areas, particularly the use of physics as a gameplay tool rather than just a visual treat for gamers.” It was followed by two additional episodes, with a climax for a third. However, it took until 2020 for Valve to tell us why Episode Three was never made.

Since then, we’ve gotten the amazing VR-only game Half-Life: Alyx, but we’re still waiting for an official Half-Life 3. Several versions of the game have been abandoned, but we might be closer than ever—developers at Valve have said they want to continue to they make more games in the series.

Ryan Leston is an entertainment journalist and film critic for IGN. You can follow him Twitter.

Leave a Comment