Return to Ravenholm
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The subject matter of this article contains in-development information that was cut from the final version of an official and/or canonical source and appears in no other canonical source. It may also contain incomplete information since not all cut material is publicly known.
|Return to Ravenholm|
Return to Ravenholm, also referred to as Ravenholm or Half-Life 2: Episode Four, was the working title of a cancelled Half-Life 2 Episode developed by Arkane Studios from 2006 to 2007. Set in the zombie-infested European town of Ravenholm, it was to take place sometime before the end of Half-Life 2: Episode Two. The concept of a Ravenholm-centered episode was inherited by Arkane after Junction Point Studios' own project was cancelled.
Following the network intrusion of Eidos' servers in May 2011 and the subsequent data leak, community members report that among the leaked CVs are several CVs of industry developers who appear to have worked on an Arkane/Valve project built on the Source engine from 2006 to 2007. In some CVs, the project goes unnamed, but in others, it appears to be titled "Half-Life 2: Episode 4", "Ravenholm", or "Return to Ravenholm". These individuals include Sébastien Gaillard, Nims Bun, Florent Perrin, and Régis Capotosto. Most of the CVs have since been edited to remove any mention of the project or Valve.
On January 13, 2012, Marc Laidlaw confirms to LambdaGeneration that a fourth and now cancelled Half-Life 2 episode, titled Return to Ravenholm, was being developed by Arkane Studios from 2006 to 2007. He states that as big fans of Arkane and their work, Valve wanted to come up with a common project that both studios could work on. Valve threw ideas around, and Arkane built "some cool stuff", but Valve eventually decided that it didn't make sense to pursue Return to Ravenholm 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) represented a creative constraint that would hamper the project, as well as Arkane themselves. Episode Four and Return to Ravenholm are also confirmed by Laidlaw to be the same game.
In the following years, some assets and images related to Arkane's project are revealed. On January 11, 2013, four screenshots of Return to Ravenholm are uncovered. On June 3, 2013, several model renders of assets intended for the game are discovered, many reinforcing the idea of a hospital location. On December 5, 2015, eleven additional screenshots from the project are revealed from the portfolio of Robert Wilinski, a Senior Environment Artist at Arkane between 2007 and 2008. The environment on display here depicts a dilapidated underground area with elements suggesting a relation to the previously seen hospital.
On November 4, 2016, Arkane Studios art director Sébastien Mitton confirms that the player wouldn't have assumed the role of Gordon Freeman, but "a different, very interesting character."
On October 31, 2017, ValveTime publishes Marc Laidlaw's e-mail in which he reveals that before Arkane started working on Return to Ravenholm, Junction Point Studios founded by Warren Spector was to be the studio responsible for developing a Ravenholm-centered Half-Life 2 episode. When Valve decided Junction Point Studios couldn't do it, Spector's version of the game was cancelled and the concept was passed along to Arkane; they started again from scratch. Laidlaw comments that he believes "Arkane stuck more closely to the atmosphere of horror" than the previous studio, and confirmes the inclusion of Grigori in the game, which Junction Point Studios was also planning.
- Marc Laidlaw on a Ravenholm-centered Half-Life 2 episode (c. 2017)
- New HL2: Episode 4 info surfaces on Steam Users' Forums (archived)
- Ravenholm, the other cancelled Half-Life game on Steam Users' Forums (archived)
- New Images of Half-life 2: Episode 4 / Return to Ravenholm at ValveTime
- Further Half-Life 2: Episode 4 Images Found at ValveTime
- New Half-Life 2: Episode Four Screenshots Revealed! - ValveTime Spotlight Exclusive at ValveTime
- Dishonored 2 Trades Dark and Dirty for Bright and Dirty on Inverse (November 4, 2016)
- Warren Spector discusses his cancelled Half-Life 2 Ravenholm Episode on PC Gamer (November 8, 2017)