A new report suggests that Valve will be taking the Half-Life series in a radically new direction with its third installment. Half-Life 3 is allegedly inspired by open-world games like Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

Journal du Gamer, citing a "trusted source" close to Valve, says that HL3 will still be a shooter at its heart. However, it will have RPG elements like quests and free exploration of the game world. Previous games have interactive NPC's but presumably this game will take that one step further.

The report characterizes Half-Life 3's development as "chaotic." At one point it was envisioned as a pure shooter like prior games in the series. Since then, it's gone through several incarnations. This part of the rumor seems believable, considering Half-Life 2: Episode Two was released way back in 2007. Furthermore, Valve's been known to completely re-do projects that they're not happy with. Team Fortress 2, for example, was once envisioned as a realistic military shooter.

Half-Life has traditionally been a very linear and action-oriented series so this rumored blueprint for HL3 is a bit eye-popping. It doesn't sound completely implausible, though. Earlier games always had little RPG touches. There were short lulls in the action where you could chat up other characters. Furthermore, the vehicle segments from HL2 and its expansions had some limited exploration. An open-world HL3 would just be accentuating gameplay elements previously demonstrated in the series.

Unfortunately, it could be awhile before we see Half-Life 3. The game reportedly won't be out until after 2013. Perhaps Valve will have it as a launch title for their rumored console?

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