Half-Life 3 isn’t happening, rumor claims, but Valve could make a co-op spin for Steam Deck

Half-Life 2 screenshot showing player firing at a copter
(Image credit: Valve)

Still thinking Half-Life 3 is in the pipeline for the future? Well, think again, according to the latest from the rumor mill.

Tyler McVicker has a new YouTube video up in which he clearly states that there is no work being done on Half-Life 3 at Valve, or any other traditional (meaning mouse and keyboard) Half-Life game to continue the franchise. That’s despite the end of Half-Life: Alyx (the VR outing) hinting pretty heavily that Gordon Freeman’s story would be continued in some way.

Essentially, there’s apparently no room to allocate resources to a further traditional Half-Life game, because it’s unsurprisingly all hands on Steam Deck right now at Valve, with the handheld PC coming close to release, and it proving more popular than anticipated. Valve is throwing “a lot” at the Steam Deck, McVicker asserts, and rightly so given all the interest in the device.

What might be happening game-wise, according to McVicker, is codename ‘Citadel’, a Half-Life effort specifically designed to showcase the – you guessed it – Steam Deck. It is, according to the YouTuber, a Half-Life-based nostalgia trip and blend of shooter and RTS which is a co-op outing designed to play well with the Steam Deck controls (as opposed to the mouse and keyboard).

Work on Citadel has purportedly been put aside for the moment as the Steam Deck is obviously the big focus, and getting that crucial launch right – but this project will apparently be continued in the future, and should be out for the handheld down the line.

How far down the line? According to PC GamesN, which spotted the video and subsequently got in touch with McVicker, it could be a couple of years away, or perhaps a year and a half. So we’re looking at mid-2023 at the earliest.

Analysis: Citadel co-op could be a big draw for Steam Deck eventually

All this definitely sounds believable: certainly Valve will be focusing totally on making sure the Steam Deck fulfils its ample promise, and the project known as Citadel makes sense as a vehicle to push the handheld in the future, and to leverage the idea of co-op play. (Note that Citadel was rumored back at the start of 2021, and Valve denied any knowledge of the existence of the project).

We’ve pretty much given up on the idea of Half-Life 3 ourselves, and didn’t hold out much hope for it even when folks were getting excited that it could be in the cards back in 2019, and that turned out to be Half-Life: Alyx. So hearing it isn’t underway at Valve is far from a surprise.

Speaking of Alyx, McVicker also mentions that there is “growing internal disappointment with the VR platform on the PC” at Valve, so any follow-up is sounding unlikely, even though there is evidence (via data mining) of some initial work on an Alyx sequel.

All of this is speculation, naturally, so maintain a healthy sense of skepticism around McVicker’s assertions.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).