Noclip has released an hour of gameplay footage of Arkane's cancelled Half-Life 2: Episode 4 concept, which would have seen the player return to Ravenholm and fight alongside Grigori once again. To commemorate this unprecedented look at a cancelled Half-Life endeavour, here's five very-much-released zombie/monster/creepy mods for Half-Life 2!
At the start of each round, players can either choose to join the human team or volunteer to be the first zombie. If no one volunteers the game will pick one human randomly, and the game begins! The starter zombie's goal is to kill the humans while the human goal is to stay alive as long as possible, complete objectives, or even wipe out all the zombies. The catch is that when a human dies he will simply join the ranks of the undead, now ready to finish off his old living teammates. The humans can't tell by the player list who is alive and who is undead.
An objective and arcade focused mod, BrainBread 2 puts players into the shoes of survivors post-apocalypse where Zombies are numerous and help is sparse. Five gamemodes join many unique and akimbo-style weaponry, and even better, pass on the torch of modding interest by fostering their own UGC community that posts skins, maps, encounters and more to increase the content available.
Armed with nothing but a 9mm and a pair of brass knuckles, you must do whatever it takes to survive against the thousands of zombies that used to be your friends and neighbors. The cost of failure is nothing less than your free will. There are no heroes. No single person can save the world and there are not enough bullets to go around. The only thing left to do is to kill the damned, hoping that you don’t end up like them. This is not your average, run-for-your-life zombie mod.
Vulnerable and alone in an arctic setting, Black Snow makes you fight for your life against the shuffling monsters we usually take for granted, and then some. Take a plunge into this deep, dark mystery and traverse eerie, ominous hallways filled with unsettling ambience and tense engagements. No teammates to fall back on, few means of defence - it's all up to you.
You play as a nameless hero who gets into a car accident and wakes up in a hospital where there is none of the patients or doctors. Soon you will find that the hospital is full of zombies. Your task is to get home, but on the way you will realize that the zombies isn't the worst problem on your way to salvation...Often it will be wiser to get away from the hordes of zombies, than trying to fight them. Especially because ammo for weapons will be sorely missed. Sometimes you can try to build barricades to detain the walking dead, but they will not last long.
Returning To Ravenholm
Before Half-Life as an IP languished in isolation for over a decade, Valve had a number of plans for sequels and spinoffs, some in-house, some out-sourced. Whilst Half-Life received a number of third party expansions, none set for Half-Life 2 saw the light of day. Warren Spector of Deus Ex, Thief, and System Shock fame had one such episode on the way; Electronic Arts, too, was involved at one stage in a third-party Half-Life episode. The one which seems to have gotten the furthest and been the most promising, however, is Arkane's pitch for a Ravenholm centric episode that saw you return to Ravenholm as the protagonist of Opposing Force, Adrian Shephard.
Don't Get Crabby
In 2020, Noclip released a documentary covering three of Arkane's cancelled projects - one of which was the Return to Ravenholm prototype. Showcasing unseen footage and lots of interesting content, it successfully built up Half-Life fans at a great time for the franchise as a whole, thanks to the release of Half-Life Alyx the same year. Now, two years later in 2022, another Noclip video has dropped as a relative surprise - a full hour of gameplay footage of the prototype, more or less everything playable, with an unprecedented look at the cancelled episode. Helmed by Danny O'Dwyer, it's a remarkable offering for Half-Life fans, and, as he notes himself in the YouTube comments, a great opportunity for modders, too.
A Fresh Undertaking
If I know Half-Life modders - and as one myself I like to think I do - it's only a matter of time till groups of people are taking their own crack at a Return to Ravenholm remake. With the new hour of footage available there's suddenly a hell of a lot more to draw upon for getting close. Success stories in the Half-Life community are common, so here's to hoping the community succeeds in getting this spinoff the treatment it deserves.