Let’s Use Dall-E Mini To Conjure Up Half-Life 3 And Other Sequels We’ll Never Get

Let’s Use Dall-E Mini To Conjure Up Half-Life 3 And Other Sequels We’ll Never Get
Image: Rockstar / Respawn / Valve / Bioware / Dall-E mini / Kotaku

One of my favourite activities growing up as a video game nerd was randomly typing the names of fictional game, movie, or book sequels into Google just to see what came up. I didn’t care if it was real or fake. I enjoyed the daydreaming that came from imagining “what if?”

Now there’s no need to daydream, because we have image-generating AI that take their inspirations from the vast world of the internet. One called Dall-E mini has been making waves lately, so of course I couldn’t resist seeing what the popular AI artist thought a bunch of never-gonna-happen video games sequels might look like.

I put three rules in place, as this can quickly spiral out of hand:

  1. The prompt must specify a sequel/prequel/remake (or just cancelled game) that’s unlikely to ever come out.
  2. The images Dall E mini generates must show something that resembles gameplay.
  3. I’ll only choose games I have familiarity with so I can give a more informed comment on what Dall-E spits out.

Rest assured, none of the never-been, never-will “sequels” we’re about to launch into should fuel speculation that any of these games are planned, in development, or are ever going to come out; all the following images are entirely generated by an AI. So that said, let’s take a look at 10 games, in no particular order, that I’ve often daydreamed about and that, I have to imagine, totally exist in some alternate timeline we were unfortunate to miss out on.

Half-Life 3

Image: Valve / Dall-E mini / KotakuImage: Valve / Dall-E mini / Kotaku

How can I not? This was, in fact, one of the first things I typed into Dall-E mini because I’m a giant nerd. And to be honest its alternate-timeline take on Half-Life 3, isn’t far off at all.

This reminds me of Half-Life 1 wayyy more than Half-Life 2, which is actually kind of cool. Half-Life 2 is a remarkable game for many, many reasons. But it was distinct enough from its predecessor to make something like the incredible Half-Life remake Black Mesa not only attractive, but desired. The weapon sandboxes were vastly different, not to mention the environments.

Half-Life 2 seemed more interested in larger environments and big sci-fi dystopian vistas and setpieces. Awesome as that was — The Citadel is up there with the Death Star for me in terms of imposing villainous lairs — I would love a hypothetical Half-Life 3 to return to tighter environments, veritable sci-fi-lab-dungeon-crawls with cool weapons and a crowbar.

Also, the images suggest maybe we wouldn’t play as Gordon Freeman…perhaps Alyx? Swapping out the protagonist would let us get a look at our crowbar-wielding hero and finally give him some personality for a change. Besides, it’s not like switching protagonists in a video game ever upset anyone.

Titanfall 3

Image: Respawn / Dall-E mini / KotakuImage: Respawn / Dall-E mini / Kotaku

Let’s keep it rolling with first-person shooters, of which I will never grow tired. A Titanfall 3 is perhaps not as far-fetched as a return to Valve’s legendary series (and, fun fact, it runs on the same engine!) and Dall-E returned something that, well, looks like you’d expect it to.

I was tempted to not include it for that reason. There are titans: shock. There are guns: shock. It looks like a slick sci-fi world: shock. But as I thought this over a bit more, I took note of how much more open these images felt, mostly because of the amount of negative space in some of them. Titanfall 2 was a linear game that mostly staged its action in contained yet spacious enough areas. What if that were different, more expansive, in the sequel?

I’m not one for the open-worldification of every goddamn game. That runs the risk of making an already sufficiently long game even longer, and risks turning it into a formulaic slog. But it might actually work for Titanfall. Imagine a spacious open map with crumbling, abandoned cities, and expanses of wild, sci-fi nature where a titan dropping from orbit is simply dwarfed until it collides with the ground.

I mean, maybe it would be cool for all of five minutes before you’re clearing out what are essentially bandit camps and picking up useless collectibles. But the ambience, man, the ambience.

Dino Crisis 4 (or just a new one)

Image: Capcom / Dall-E mini / KotakuImage: Capcom / Dall-E mini / Kotaku

While I wouldn’t say no to a new Dino Crisis (which we’re unlikely to get), the truth is that I never played the originals. It was a different time, one where I was more restricted in the games I could acquire — and as cool as Dino Crisis looked, I was not going to choose that over the original PlayStation Final Fantasy games, or Metal Gear Solid, or even Crash Bandicoot. Sorry.

OK, so Dall-E! What do we have here? Shock! Dinosaurs! But what’s interesting is that with the exception of one of these possible images, Dall-E seems to think a new Dino Crisis would be in first person! And, you know, that’s not a bad idea.

We all fell in love with that initial No Man’s Sky trailer with the alien brachiosaurus. A lot of people are into Ark (though apparently it inspired a friend of mine to contemplate throwing his PC out a window). And dinosaurs are just fucking cool. I think we all want to experience that moment in the original Jurassic Park when Dr. Ellie Sattler first sees the brachiosaurus and is just overwhelmed with a deep, visceral emotion. Dinos elicit an undeniable mix of awe and terror and, frankly, it’s something that often gets overlooked in favour of raucous thrills of the kind we see in the trailer for Exoprimal or the more recent Jurassic World movies.

Turn on some RTX, throw us into a deep, first-person experience in which the towering dinosaurs fill us with the wonder and fear of out-of-time biology, and I’m down to get eaten. There, I said it.

Bully 2

Image: Rockstar / Dall-E mini / KotakuImage: Rockstar / Dall-E mini / Kotaku

Thanks to Kotaku staff writer Zack Zwiezen for bringing this one up! I adored the original Bully (yes, yes, I’m sure it had some problematic elements) and so desperately want to see a sequel that I’m surprised I didn’t throw this one at Dall-E myself.

But ok. What do we have here? Well, it looks like more Bully in the same way that future Grand Theft Autos will look like, well, more Grand Theft Auto. We’d be running around a school campus causing all sorts of havoc. (Apropos of nothing, I am deeply sorry that my high school theatre teacher had to sit through a cyber security meeting after, uh, someone broke into district admin accounts they weren’t supposed to.)

Dall-E mini pulls information from the internet to compose its images, and so naturally many of these sequels look like what came before (like most sequels do anyway). One thing that stands out to me here is the familiarity of the uniforms — and that’s where I think a hypothetical Bully 2 could actually work some plot magic.

I have my issues with Rockstar’s storytelling. At worst it ends up being horribly cruel to the women, with satire that often does the foolish thing of saying “well, both sides of the political debate are wrong” to end up with a big nothing-burger of a statement about contemporary political discourse. But despite its faults, I can’t deny that Rockstar often nails the pacing and character development. The hypothetical Bully 2 could package Jimmy’s return into a story about self-reflection and growing older, with the uniforms coming to represent something he has to outgrow if he doesn’t just want to become Grand Theft Auto V’s Trevor Philips in a few short years.

Mass Effect: Andromeda 2

Illustration: Bioware / Dall-E mini / KotakuIllustration: Bioware / Dall-E mini / Kotaku

Hold your pitchforks and torches. Look, the problems with Mass Effect: Andromeda are well documented, and I’m in agreement with all of them. But those fair critiques, I think, overlook what the game did well, and I almost guarantee you that in a few short years, much like the Star Wars prequels, folks may reinterpret this ill-fated entry.

Mass Effect: Andromeda was burdened by more than a disastrous and abusive development cycle; it was plagued with expectation and a need to establish so much world-building that the first game in a possible Andromeda series was always going to struggle a bit under that weight. In an imaginary sequel, Dall-E mini speculates that we’d spend more time with new alien cultures, be they the underserved Angarans from the first game or entirely new ones. It also hints at more exploration across mysterious sci-fi landscapes, which I think was one of the more alluring aspects of the poorly-received spin-off.

So much of the original Andromeda works on paper — even the open-world formula could’ve worked out with a better execution. I also was a huge fan of the colour palette and aesthetics, so I’m right there with Dall-E saying that I’d love to see more of that, ideally with some more room to breathe — no looming apocalyptic threat seems necessary, does it?

Star Wars: Republic Commando 2

Image: LucasArts / Dall-E mini / KotakuImage: LucasArts / Dall-E mini / Kotaku

Star Wars meets Rainbow Six 3, with a story that doesn’t focus on the same damn family on the same damn desert planet? Indeed, what’s not to love about this 2005 shooter? It’s a shame we never got a sequel.

Dall-E hints here that in its hypothetical sequel we would just have be doing more of the same — and I am absolutely fine with that.

The environments of Star Wars, particularly in that prequel era, were really cool and unlike what we see in most shooters, even science fiction ones like Titanfall or Halo. The halls of government buildings on Coruscant are perfect for a crisis that a bunch of clone troopers — don’t at me about how that’s the wrong term, please — could team up to solve.

Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic 3

Image: EA / Dall-E mini / KotakuImage: EA / Dall-E mini / Kotaku

Lightsabers! Also, god damn does Dall-E mini do a good job of grabbing the aesthetic of not just the first two games, but also that HUD!

There is a remake of the original KotOR on the way, of course. And sure, it’ll be pretty and have some new ideas and maybe even be fun…but I’m exhausted from all these remakes. I would gladly embrace an alternate timeline in which we just skip over the hot mess that was Knights of the Old Republic 2 and got on to some more fun Jedi/Sith shit.

And Dall-E is in agreement. Check out that cool-arse big collar on the character in the bottom right. I’m also going to totally pretend that the centre bottom is a droid Jedi force-stopping a blaster bolt like Kylo Ren in Episode VII. I haven’t seen a droid Jedi before (yes, I can hear you typing right now about some book or comic or something where that happened) so, Dall-E, you have my attention.

Days Gone 2

Image: Sony / Dall-E mini / KotakuImage: Sony / Dall-E mini / Kotaku

I sort of broke a rule here in that nothing in this render seems to show much of what we might consider gameplay. But holy hell did Dall-E nail the vibe here.

I was going to skip this one, then I considered how much I was actually endeared by the characters in the original Days Gone. This was mostly inspired by a Kotaku slack conversation in which everyone chimed in with their favourite video game couples in relation to Ashley Bardhan’s awesome piece on keeping the magic alive. How could I not bring up Deacon and Sarah? They’re one of my top video game couples, and I played that game to see them reunited — I didn’t care whatsoever about that zombie shit.

This render reminds me of the real loss of a sequel we’ll never see. Days Gone enjoyed a bit of intrigue around its world’s fiction, and its conclusion had an entertaining-enough twist. But one of the things that stands out for me most compared to Sony’s other zombie gore fest, The Last of Us, is that Days Gone was much more about the struggle to preserve what these characters lost.

The Last of Us seems to always be too cynical, with tons of violence-for-violence’s sake to say…what exactly? I could actually relate to Days Gone far more than any other zombie romp. Who doesn’t think about what could’ve been with the people who’ve left your life as the world around you changes? I often think about that cast of characters and wonder how they’re doing in the sequel we’ll never get, and Dall-E mini let me wander down that train of thought once more.

Too Human 2

Image: Microsoft / Dall-E mini / KotakuImage: Microsoft / Dall-E mini / Kotaku

In 2008, I walked into the GameStop at the Lake Success strip mall in Long Island, NY and bought a copy of Too Human for the Xbox 360 despite the GA there asking me if I was “sure” about that purchase. And you know what, I was, and I’m sure I had a great time with it.

I played the hell out of that game, particularly online co-op with a good friend just running around shooting and looting cool gear — wow, it’s almost like that would become a popular trend in the next decade.

Too Human was an undeniable shitshow though. And we don’t need to relitigate that past when we have Dall-E speculating about a sequel we’ll definitely never see.

Here’s what’s neat: This looks a hell of a lot like the cancelled OG PlayStation version of Too Human, which looked remarkably different from what we got on the Xbox 360 a decade later.

This is both a cool quirk of Dall-E, but also a really neat thought experiment: What if the sequel were to capture the spirit of something we never got to play? I mean, folks hated having the right analogue stick dedicated to anything other than a camera in the actual game, so why not pivot? It certainly would’ve bucked the trend of sequels often delivering more of the same, and I’d totally dig a third-person shooter set in a “what if aliens?”-style alternate history in which Norse gods were actually cyborg people.

Agent

Image: Rockstar / Dall-E mini / KotakuImage: Rockstar / Dall-E mini / Kotaku

We gotta keep the dream alive! Also, I’m a sucker for those first two Bourne films — the latter ones lost the thread and, good lord, don’t ever read those fucking books…I’ll never get that time back — which got an ambitious-but-not-so-great video game adaptation. That only left me wanting a genuine spy-thriller video game experience, and I, like many, was always hopeful Rockstar’s long-in-development Agent would eventually show up to deliver that.

Well. That will never happen. I do wonder if Dall-E connected the dots correctly though, because these environments absolutely scream “Rockstar open-world game.” And that’s where I think a purely theoretical Agent sequel would really excel.

Spy thrillers are good fun, but set one in an open world with maybe a dash of Elden Ring-style mystique that doesn’t spell things out for you and we’d have a game where we’re racing around a metropolis trying to piece together some kinda uber-secret government conspiracy, chasing people across rooftops, and getting into shootouts where you want to dodge the cops not just because they’re the antagonist force, but because they’ll blow your cover? Ugh, Dall-E, stop teasing me.

So there you have it! 10 games we’ll never see but, thanks to the magic of AI, we can daydream about. Maybe it’s becoming sentient afterall! These are mostly my list, so I’m sure y’all folks have plenty of your own impossible sequels you’d like to see.

Now we can imagine the probably not-too-farfetched future where an AI can just make a game based on this kinda prompt. And, surely, such an advance in technology where we could create complex media with mere language would make us reconsider our antiquated intellectual property and copyright laws that were established in the pre-digital era. Right? …Right?

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