This afternoon, PC gamers noticed that their Steam clients were downloading a massive 3.7 GB update to Half-Life 2. Valve says the update is merely a Korean, Portuguese, and Thai language pack for the nearly 9 year old game, but the size of the update suggests that there might be more to this patch than Valve is letting on.
In 2010, Valve hid the first details about Portal 2 within an update to the original game, so fans are assuming that the company might be doing the same with this latest HL2 update. Of course, it’s also equally likely that the patch is simply just a language pack like Valve says it is, but that isn’t stopping Half-Life’s legion of dedicated fans from replaying the game and scouring every nook and cranny of City 17 for clues.
The Half-Life 2 Steam page also says that there is an upcoming event planned for the game, but it doesn’t give any specifics about the event other than it’ll happen within the next two weeks. Again, fans are taking this as a sign that HL3 will be announced very soon, but there’s a good chance that the “event” is simply the next big Steam Sale.
The timing of the update and the event announcement are also suspicious: last week, fan site Valvetime claimed that they received leaked documentation that confirmed that Half-Life 3 and Left 4 Dead 3 were currently in development at Valve. The supposedly leaked documents also mentioned the Source Engine 2, Steam Box and Return to Ravenholm, a cancelled Half-Life episode that was being developed by the Dishonored team at Arkane Studios.
Rumors have been circulating about Half-Life 3 for the last five years, and so far, none of them have come true. Every time Valve teases a new announcement, people automatically assume it’s HL3, but it never is. Every year, gamers hope that Gabe Newell will appear on stage at one of the big E3 press conferences and finally announce the long awaited sequel, but obviously that hasn’t happened either. Despite the frequent disappointments and lack of news, HL fans continue to cling to the idea that HL3 will be announced any day now.
Like I said before, there’s a good chance that this is all a coincidence and this might just be wishful thinking from fans. I usually try to stay skeptical about things like this, but it’s hard to not get my hopes up — it’s been almost five years since Half-Life 2: Episode 2, and I really want some goddamn resolution to that game’s amazing (and shocking) cliffhanger ending. I really hope that the rumors are true this time and Valve won’t leave us all blue-balled once again. After all, Valve is planning to launch the Steam Box “console” sometime soon, and Half-Life 3 would be a hell of a launch title.
[Update] According to Kotaku, the large file size of the update was due to an error in Valve’s new “SteamPipe” distribution system. Valve says the update should work properly now and the download size should be substantially less than the original 3.7 GB file reported earlier.