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Half-Life 2: Episode Four, with the working title Return to Ravenholm, is a presumably cancelled Half-Life 2 Episode, developed outside of Valve by Arkane Studios, apparently from 2006 to 2007. Little to no information is known about it.
In a PC Gamer article about the future of the Half-Life series published in May 2006, it was stated that an Episode Four following the end of the Half-Life 2 Episodes trilogy story arc was planned. It was to be developed outside of Valve, with a stand-alone plot.
In December 2007, Episode Three was said to be only the end of the current Half-Life 2 story arc, not the end of the overall Half-Life franchise, nor the episodic releases, with even more episodic games unconnected to the current story arc to be made. This hints at the Episode Four mentioned in 2006.
The same month, Gabe Newell stated in an interview that they wanted to expand many pieces of the original story only merely referenced in the previous games, and develop games about Alyx Vance or Dog.
In March 2011, Electronic Arts concept artist and 3D modeler Randy Humphries posted in his Coroflot profile six pieces of concept art for what appears to be a canceled Half-Life project, with no further detail (one of a canal, one of railway tracks along a canal, one of a town named "Haven", one of a building interior, one of two presumably Combine units, very different from the current ones). Though it has not been confirmed, it may be the now apparently canceled Episode Four mentioned in 2006, since it was said to be developed outside of Valve. Electronic Arts distribute Valve's games, so they may have developed this canceled Episode Four.
Following the network intrusion of Eidos' servers in May 2011, and the subsequent data leak, community members reported that among the leaked CVs is one of an individual who had previously worked at Arkane Studios (makers of the Source game The Crossing). The CV states that at Arkane, he has worked on "Half-Life 2: Episode 4" (Episode Four) from 2006 to 2007, before "Valve decided to put their episodic efforts on hold," as the resume outlines. It was then discovered that on the public CVs of other Arkane employees (found for instance on LinkedIn) can be found mentions of an "Unannounced Project (Valve Software)", built on the Source engine, some time between June 2007 and October 2007. Thus Arkane Studios as well as Electronic Arts seem to have been connected to Episode Four from 2006 to 2007, though to what extent is unknown.
On January 13 2012, Marc Laidlaw confirms the rumor that a fourth and canceled Half-Life 2 Episode, titled Return to Ravenholm at that time, was developed by Arkane Studios from 2006 to 2007. As big fans of Arkane, Valve wanted to come up with a common project. Valve threw ideas around, Arkane built "some cool stuff", but Valve eventually decided that it didn't make sense to pursue it at the time. They felt like a lot of the staples of Ravenholm (Headcrabs and Zombies) were pretty much played out, and the fact that it would have to take place sometime before the end of Episode Two (so as not to advance beyond where Valve had pushed the story) was a creative constraint that would hamper the project as well as Arkane. Episode Four and Return to Ravenholm are also confirmed by Laidlaw to be the same thing.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1
- ↑ 2.0 2.1
- ↑ Half-Life 3 on StuffWeLike.com
- ↑ Half-Life 2: Episode 4 possibly planned by Valve. Spin-off episode to feature Alyx and Dog? at Video Games Blogger
- ↑ Randy Humphries's Coroflot profile
- ↑ Sébastien Gaillard's LinkedIn profile
- ↑ New HL2: Episode 4 info surfaces at the Steam Users' Forums