By now it’s easier and altogether less heartbreaking to assume any whisper of Half-Life 3 escaping from Valve is trolling. At least it’s high-tier trolling in the case of this latest snippet, which has seen a file dubbed hl.3.txt surface in a recent DOTA 2 update.

On its own that would mean a great deal, but between the hl3.txt, rpg.txt and ai_basenpc.txt files there’s significant chatter hinting at work on Half-Life 3. If you had any doubts about just what hl3.txt referred to it, opening it up reveals such nuggets as “string m_HelpText = "Combine Pulse Ceiling Turret"”, while some alludes to an open-world with procedural content and RPG leanings.

Other parts of the text files mention ziplines, VR and VR movement, squads and quests. All that’s to say, there’s not much in there that sounds as if it’s anything to do with DOTA 2.

This ties in nicely with leaked reports from 2013, but there’s every chance it’s Valve just toying with its fans. After all, why would these documents ever surface in a DOTA 2 update? It’s certainly no mistake, and someone, somewhere along the line, put these into DOTA 2 for a giggle - as a tease or to troll the millions of gamers waiting for Half-Life 3.

If you want to some digging for yourself you can have a look at SteamDatabase's tracking, which unearthed the data in the first place. 

By now Valve is backed into a corner with Half-Life 3. They even create one of the best games ever and everyone’s happy, or there will extreme grumblings of disappointment from the community. On Valve’s part it’s far easier to just never touch the Half-Life series again. After all, it’s not exactly a company struggling for cash these days is it?

What is it then, legitimate slip-up or textbook Valve trolling?