With all the beautiful memories that we have of Half-Life and Half-Life 2 – a little melancholy always resonates! Because even though Half-Life: Alyx is a top VR game, desktop players have been missing a new Half-Life game for 16 years now.
There was almost a (almost forgotten today) sequel called Half-Life 2: Ravenholm. From 2007, Dishonored developer Arkane worked on this shooter, which wanted to incorporate many of the studio’s own virtues. As a new documentary from the YouTube channel Noclip shows, Ravenholm was worked out impressively and the development was well advanced.
And what a game we could have expected!
Whimsical characters & clever weapons
Reunion with old acquaintances: In Ravenholm you would have played as Adrian Shepard, a young U.S. Navy and protagonist in the add-on Half-Life: Opposing Force. So you wouldn’t have played as Gordon Freeman like in HL2.
Typical black humor: In the opening scene, Shepard meets Father Grigori, who already appeared during Gordon Freeman’s visit to the city of Ravenholm during the story of Half-Life 2. The pastor extracts substances from the notorious headcrabs to immunize against mutations:
A magnetic cannon: Arkane brought his own ideas into Half-Life 2: Ravenholm. The magnetic cannon was used to bypass electrical current by placing connections freely. So you could solve puzzles or lure enemies into a trap. In Dishonored or Prey, for example, there were similar sandbox elements in the levels.
A kind of plasma thrower: This weapon could be recharged using electricity and fired energy balls.
More horror in Half-Life: With the mutant zombies, Arkane brought a new and frighteningly dark opponent to Half-Life 2: Ravenholm.
What happened to the project?
Nothing is known about the exact reasons why Valve Ravenholm crashed. In the Noclip documentary, Arcane’s art director Sebastien Mitton merely explains that the news came unexpectedly and made the staff sad.
The studio was convinced of Ravenholm and set up within a short time a playable demo of Half-Life 2: Ravenholm together to change Valve’s mind. All in vain: the fate of Ravenholm was already sealed.
It is not the only successor to Half-Life that has been unplugged! Gameplay can also be seen from never-released sequel episodes:
more on the subject
Half-Life 2: This is what Episode 4 would have looked like
Now you want to see everything? You are welcome
The Noclip documentary about Arkane Studios not only illuminates Ravenholm, but the entire history of the studio. So if you are interested in background information on modern masterpieces like Dishonored and Prey or even classics like Arx Fatalis or Dark Messiah of Might & Magic, you will find exciting and funny anecdotes from the developers involved. If you want to go directly to Half-Life 2: Ravenholm, jump to minute 33:00:
You can also find out more about Arkane’s participation in the abandoned »Spielberg game« LMNO or the classic Bioshock 2.
If you are interested in the often complicated and often more entertaining world of game development, you will find good material for a cozy sofa evening.
By the way, Arkane is currently working on Deathloop – will we learn more about this mysterious game in June?