New Half-Life 2: Episode Three Concept Art Reveals What Could Have Been

·4-min read
Concept art shows a strange worm with a human head and arm.
Concept art shows a strange worm with a human head and arm.


The “BreenGrub”

Avid Valve fan and collector David McGreavy just shared a large trove of unseen concept art for Half-Life 2: Episode Three and other unreleased Valve projects as part of his effort to preserve this history for the future.

Over a decade ago, Valve began releasing smaller episodic sequels to 2004’s iconic Half-Life 2. These shorter, standalone games continued the story of Gordon Freeman and the human resistance against interdimensional invaders, the idea being that Valve could develop and release them at a faster pace. 15 years after the release of Episode Two, it seems like that plan didn’t work out, and the long-awaited third episode is probably never going to see the light of day. But at least we have these never-before-seen pieces of concept art to stare at while we wonder about what could have been.

Read more

David McGreavy is a senior producer at 2K, but in his spare time, he collects Valve merchandise, artwork, and other bits and bobs. He’s amassed one of the largest Valve collections I know of, and has sources among current and former Valve employees, allowing him to get access to stuff that isn’t normally available to the general public. A few months back he teased that he got a ton of Valve concept art and was working on scanning it so it could be shared online.

Now, he’s finally releasing some of the first scans, and while he’s not quite happy with the quality, he’s still agreed to share the artwork with Kotaku and helped explain what’s what. According to McGreavy, the art comes courtesy of a former Valve employee who was looking to “downsize” their collection of swag and other Valve-related artifacts.

Concept art shows a strange worm with a human head and arm.
Concept art shows a strange worm with a human head and arm.


The “BreenGrub”

The most interesting piece of artwork for Half-Life fans is likely the concept art of Half-Life 2 villain Dr. Breen as an alien worm. This plot point—that the once-human Breen would be turned into an alien worm after his death in Half-Life 2—was first confirmed in former Valve writer Marc Laidlaw’s “Epistle 3.” That was a rough plot outline that Laidlaw released in 2017 that showed what Episode Three’s story could have been before he left the company. And now we have our first good look at “BreenGrub.”

Other artwork McGreavy released includes more concept art for Half-Life 2: Episode Three, showing a devastated coastline covered in rusty boats and debris.

Concept art shows rusted boats laying on a cliffside.
Concept art shows rusted boats laying on a cliffside.


Concept art from Half-Life 2: Episode Three

Interestingly, McGreavy told me that two pieces of art showing Dog and Alyx are not from Episode Three, but were part of a short-lived attempt at building a game around those two that would have seemingly been separate from Episode Three or Half-Life 3.

Concept art shows a large robot and a human standing on a cliff above a large rocky landscape.
Concept art shows a large robot and a human standing on a cliff above a large rocky landscape.


Concept art from a never-released Half-Life game starring Dog and Alyx

Concept art shows a robot and a human walking together in the distance inside an alien-like valley.
Concept art shows a robot and a human walking together in the distance inside an alien-like valley.


Concept art from a never-released Half-Life game starring Dog and Alyx

Also of note is some concept art for the never-released space game Valve was working on back in the day called Stars of Blood. While we’ve learned a bit more about that project over the years, it still remains a mystery as to what it would have been, and how far along Valve had gotten on it. Just one more unfinished project to toss on the pile.

Concept art shows two sci-fi characters from Valve's never-released space game.
Concept art shows two sci-fi characters from Valve's never-released space game.


Concept art from Stars of Blood

Concept art shows a white-colored alien landscape with large, oddly shaped rocks.
Concept art shows a white-colored alien landscape with large, oddly shaped rocks.


Concept art from Stars of Blood

While we’ve seen some concept art of Episode Three in the past, it’s still nice to see more of what could have been. We know Valve tried to make a lot of Half-Life games after releasing the first two episodes and before releasing 2020’s VR-focused Half-Life: Alyx. Based on information that emerged in 2020, Valve had at least four or five different Half-Life projects of various sizes in development between 2010 and 2017.

So it makes sense that there must be even more concept art for all these various, canceled games out there, possibly buried in old hard drives or boxes in Valve’s basement. And hopefully, fans and collectors like McGreavy can help bring more of this stuff out of the shadows, preserving it for the future. Fans may not have to wait too long for more, as McGreavy tells me he has more Half-Life concept art to share. In fact, he claims that so far he’s only released about half of what he has in hand.

“I’m a lover of physical goods,” said McGreavy. “But I am really looking to digitally preserve, catalog, and inventory all the Valve items available commercially, as well as employee/internal, to whatever extent I can.”