Valve's Robin Walker has revealed a smattering of new details about Aftermath, the forthcoming Half-Life 2 expansion pack that most PC gamers with a pulse will be adding to their collection later this year.
In a short, spoiler-free Q&A with Gamespot, Walker was grilled on a number of pertinent areas including the game's storyline and characters, the multiplayer features, the release date and more. But in true Valve style, Walker remained loose and vague with his answers, evidently trying his best to not spoil any surprises whatsoever.
Asked about the game's plot and setting, Walker confirmed the game will take place entirely in City 17, and evidently the purpose is to get the hell out alive: "the driving force is the fact that, thanks to Gordon's actions at the end of Half-Life 2, the Citadel is about to give up the ghost in such a way that anyone left in the city will be killed," confirmed Walker.
Regarding the characters in the game, Walker didn't reveal any new information, but admitted "many of the Half-Life 2 characters will be returning in some form or another," which is to say Gordon, Alyx, Dog and the Professor and presumably Barney and the increasingly sinister G-Man.
In typical Valve fashion, Aftermath will be "answering some old questions while raising new ones. Dr. Kleiner will be on hand with some informed opinions, as well as a bit of speculation," said Walker, while "other mysteries will be introduced for the purpose of gradual revelation. We believe that theorizing about the meaning behind the clues in the Half-Life 2 universe, and the motivations of the characters within it, is one of the fun things about being a Half-Life 2 fan."
Apparently Aftermath will be "intentionally shorter" than Half-Life 2, will have the same voice actors as before, and there will be "a variety of new ways in which the player interacts with the Half-Life 2 world", with Alyx seemingly playing a more prominent role as Gordon's sidekick this time around as Valve aims to make amends for not letting players spend a lot of time with the major characters. Enemies, too, are expected to have a range of new tricks up their sleeves.
Explaining Valve's decision to code Aftermath themselves, Walker reasoned "Right now, we're better than we've ever been at building Half-Life 2-type content, and we'd like to have the fun of doing it for a while," suggesting several future expansions are being planned by the Seattle-based company.
Multiplayer wise, Walker stressed that the pack was focused on single-player but that "it's likely that some of the new pieces created for Aftermath will appear in deathmatch," and that Aftermath "should be done in a few months and available for everyone to play well before the end of this year". We've been told September by Valve's Doug Lombardi, but in true Valve tradition, expect some slippage. We're hedging our bets for mid November.