I have been watching the web for a while for the anticipated sequel to Half-Life 2 (Episode 3) which has been in the works for quite some time now. Being a Half-Life fan myself, I too can't wait for its release, however many people have been speculating what the story may contain and how it will play out.
If you haven't played Half-Life 2's episodes and you would like to in the near future, then I do would like to give note that there might be some spoilers in this post. Looking through the web and listening to the developer commentaries, I thought it would actually be pointless to try and speculate what Valve is going to do next because they actually just plan and improvise as they go (which is probably why they take so long on each of their games) but I thought to just throw the stone and see where it hits.
Some people think that the helicopter ride from White-forest is going to be a cut scene followed by the "unforeseen consequences" that's going to happen when Gordon finally uncovers the secret of what the Borealis might hold and then we find out what happens from there on in the rest of the game.
Now personally, judging on how Valve developed the HL games in the past, I would like to state a different point of view. HL doesn't have cut scenes, you play from the morning you arrived at Black Mesa to the point where you defend the White-forest base, though there is a time lapse of approx. 10 years between HL and HL2 and not to mention the week-slow teleport.
I would like to present some of the stuff that's already out there, in terms of clues, previous occurrences in HL, interviews, etc. It helps to paint the picture of what to expect.
I think the helicopter ride (from White-forest) is going to be far from pleasant and quick. They would maybe make a few pit stops along the way, because the arctic is a far way off. They might need to refuel or they might even crash the chopper along the way.
Also there is the head-crab that jumped into the satellite at the end of episode 2 and judging of what happened with Gordon in the beginning of HL 2, you can just imagine what might happen after the launch. Yes the portal between the Combine and earth is closed, but what else might happen? I think that at some point Alex and Gordon is going to be separated again and Gordon is going to be faced with a difficult decision to make (which the story is going to do for you anyway but it gives you the illusion of the choice).
Would Adrian Shepherd make a comeback or is he totally lost forever? The reason I ask is because at the end of Oposing Force, the case file states:
Further evaluation pending.
There is also a YouTube video depciting the keyboard found on the background of Portal 1 (once you've finished the game) has all the necessary keys highlighted which (when put together) forms "Adrian Shepherd". Could that be an indication of something? Also, Barney never spoke in BlueShift but they gave him a voice in HL2. Couldn't the same happen with Adrian. Also, if he were to make a comeback what role would he play?
I also stumbled on some half-life wiki which features some of the earlier Half-Life 2 concept story and art which actually has the Borealis boat and base depicted. Just something interesting I thought I wanted to share. The original story has been DRAMATICALLY changed but maybe it might give us some idea of what to expect.
In a relatively old post at Computer And VideoGames, they featured Gabe Newell who explained: "I feel like we've gotten away from genuinely scaring the player more than I'd like, and it's something we need to think about, in addition to broadening the emotional palette we can draw on."
The article ended with: When Edge asked what scares them the most, he had a particularly dark answer: "The death of their children. The fading of their own abilities."
Could this mean that someone close to Gordon is going to die? We also know that the Advisors are powerful, being able to pull Gordon and plunge him to the nearest wall and he is pretty worthless against them. Would they be able to weaken Gordon to some extent? Could Gordon be teleported to the Combine world somehow? I think that could also be scary. Maybe that's where Adrian would come to help Gordon providing he makes a comeback.
With the death of Eli, the resistance might suffer a bit since Eli was the leader of the human resistance. Would the resistance loose its power? When I listened to the commentary of Episode 2's ending, the game creators mentioned that Eli has reached his purpose in the game. So what other side effects could we expect from his death other than Alex's wanting for revenge? Alex might put herself in unnecessary danger due to her thirst for revenge and that might cause the unnecessary separation between Gordon and Alex.
Lastly, what new revelations would we see of the G-Man? We have learned that he is not the main chief but is actually "working" for some "employers" who somehow orchestrate the whole chain of events but to a certain extent. He mentioned "the biggest embarrassment has been Black Mesa" which implies that they are not in so much control as they make out to be, also we see in the beginning of Episode 1 how the Vaurtigans holds the G-Man back. Yet the G-Man keeps on "predicting" the future. He spoke to Eli twice saying "Prepare for unforeseen consequences", before the Black Mesa incident and at the end of Episode 2. Is it future vision or just the logical statement to make based on his orchestration of events that leads to the catastrophic happenings? There is still too much unknown about this character to make any good speculation. For all we know he could be a supernatural being or even an alien. Only Valve knows at this point? Or do they? ;-)