What Will Portal 3 Be About?Author: Jon Martin | Friday, April 6th, 2012 |
In the original Portal, your character Chell, woke up in an empty room, cut off from the world, a seemingly innocent computer program leads her from puzzle to puzzle, each room a new death trap. While the puzzle’s were addictive, and the Portal gun was a bit of a revelation, what really sold the experience was the world and slow build of the story, the ending was also completely satisfying.
Portal 2 introduced a host of new AI’s and characters and while it might have been more of the same, the story once again elevated it to another level. The ending was a stroke of genius, and by that I mean the interesting place Chell shot her portal gun, you can tell someone had an epiphany one night and KNEW that would be the perfect mind-blowing ending.
Characters and Motivations
Portal 2 ended with Chell escaping the Aperture facility, Wheatley spinning around in space, and GlaDOS remaining in the facility, testing with the robots Atlas and P-Body. This creates a new paradigm for the story, Chell is no longer confined, so how will GlaDOS and her cross paths again? The central conflict has always been Chell vs GlaDOS, so how can the series continue if they are separated?
First, lets figure out exactly where each character is and what their motivations are, this way we can narrow down what could feasibly happen without everyone having to suspend their disbelief (that much).
Current Whereabouts: Somewhere on the surface of earth, has just escaped the Aperture facility with the help of a surprisingly benevolent GlaDOS who saves her life.
Motivations: Shelter, Food, Water, Safety, she is now alone on the surface of a planet she has never seen before. It would actually be very unlikely she would survive on her own if the earth has reverted back to a more natural state. Who knows what other humans would be like at this time period.
Benefits: The Portal Gun Training. Chell has been trained unlike any other human, although it’s not clear if she has her gun at the end or if she has her nifty shoes. She does have the companion cube though.
Negatives: She has no idea what’s outside, what is the new face of humanity? Does she fit in? She’ll have to fend for herself.
Current Whereabouts: In the Aperture labs, probably testing more human/robot subjects. At the end of Portal 2 after releasing Chell, GlaDOS stays down in Aperture, testing Atlas and P-body.
Benefits: Unlimited intelligence, access to all of Aperture labs, ability to create and control self-aware robots(Atlas/P-body)
Negatives: Stuck in Aperture lab with unquenchable urge to test.
Current Whereabouts: Floating around in space with Core 1.
Motivations: Wheatley is upset and wants to get back to earth, chances are, if he does return, he will seek revenge against GlaDOS and Chell.
Benefits: Immortal, could float around in space forever, as long as it doesn’t come to close to a planet, sun, or black hole. It’s also worth noting that Wheatley is floating around with Core 1 in space, this could provide some benefit that is currently unknown. Things happen for a reason in this type of story and there is a reason Core 1 ended up where it is.
Negatives: No movement, no way of returning to earth without intervention.
What Will Happen in Portal 3?
So now that we know where the characters are, what they want, and what could help or hinder them, lets take all those things into account when trying to figure out what Portal 3’s story will be like. We also have to take into account Portal’s dark humor and it’s story’s ability to create unique and interesting concepts not usually seen in games. With all this swirling around in your head, here are a few ideas of what could happen in Portal 3:
Chell returns to Aperture on Her Own
The most obvious way to bring Chell and GlaDOS back together would be to have Chell return to Aperture Science for some reason. When she is released we have no idea what the real world is like, so it’s not clear if the outside world is any safer for Chell than Aperture. When Chell wakes up in Portal 2, it is implied she has been asleep for thousands of years, so who knows what could be outside.
GlaDOS Finds Chell.
If Chell doesn’t return on her own, it would be up to GlaDOS to bring her back. This could happen in a few ways and depending on the stakes, GlaDOS might either have to capture her or try to persuade her to return. If GlaDOS were to persuade her, what could GlaDOS possess that Chell would want? If GlaDOS tried to persuade OR kidnap her, she is restricted to the confines of Aperture labs (or at least has been), so it would seem she would have to send Atlas and P-body (or other robots) out to find Chell.
Why would GlaDOS look for Chell?
Wheatley Returns to Earth
Make no mistake, we have not seen the last of Wheatley, it’s not Valve’s style. Oddly enough, Wheatley has the most motivation out of any character. For the most part, characters in the Portal franchise have more or less remained where they are, or have had things get better.. but Wheately was taken down by GlaDOS and Chell working as a team, and sent rocketing off into space.
Although Wheatley’s return might be inevitable, the how and why is still up in the air, Valve has to be careful with how they bring him back. Wheatley coming back could also be what reunites Chell and GlaDOS.
Chell’s New Life in the New World
If Valve decides to do a complete 180 and release Chell into a new environment it will be a very risky move but it could pay off if they somehow merge it into the testing concept that has been a staple of the series. Chances are, Chell is waking up in some sort of apocalyptic world, the sunflowers seem to hint at the idea that nature has taken back over… although I have to admit they do seem a little fake (more on that later).
If Valve decides to take Chell out into the wild, it could be interesting, especially if she had the Portal gun with her. Imagine a Fallout 3 type atmosphere but your only weapon is the Portal gun, instead of solving puzzles, you have to navigate the environment and take out enemies without getting killed.
There is also the possibility that human society is still intact, but has either advanced or reverted technologically. If what the computers in Aperture said are true, it’s been thousands of years past any human civilization Chell would recognize. That means if Chell runs into a human, it might not look like humans did during her time. If there are humans, it is unlikely the world is in a utopia state and chances are Chell will be dragged into any conflict that is taking place with humans on earth.
Regardless, Chell will still meet up with GlaDOS/Wheatley at some point, so that event will have to be taken into account when theorizing this storyline.
GlaDOS Tests New Subjects
One possibility for Portal 3 is that Chell is not the main character. The Co-op mode in Portal 2 strongly hints at the idea that GlaDOS has found new human test subjects, so it is not too far-fetched that in the next Portal you will once again wake up in a white room, but this time as someone new.
It’s hard to imagine how doing the story in this way would provide much excitement, since players already know GlaDOS and what her deal is. It could be interesting depending on the new gameplay mechanic Valve chooses for the next game. It’s still not out of the realm of possibility that Chell will return to release the new test subjects. It’s also possible the new test subjects could contain a familiar face from another franchise.
Chell never escaped.
After watching the end of Portal 2 several times, it’s hard to understand why GlaDOS would simply let Chell go. In the end of Portal 1, after an explosion, Chell is dragged back to Aperture and put to sleep for several thousand years. In the end of Portal 2, Chell similiarly assumes she has escaped could it be that this is just more of GlaDOS manipulation? If you watch the ending scene of Portal 2, when Chell sees the outdoors, its looks perfect, almost heavenly. We, like Chell, are under the assumption this is the real outdoors and Chell has finally escaped.. but the viewer and Chell also make the assumption that GlaDOS has no control over any of the surface. In actuality, GlaDOS could control the entire planet, her megacomplex structure growing unchecked. If humanity has ended, there’s nothing to stop GlaDOS from building above ground.
Reaching the surface shows how insulated the character has been in Aperture, upon reaching the surface, we realize we have no idea what the current state of earth is. On top of that, we also realize we know nearly nothing about GlaDOS, we don’t know her limits, we don’t know what she knows, what she can control. All this time she hasn’t even mentioned the outside world to Chell, of course we know the past but what’s happening on the surface while Chell is testing? Does GlaDOS, in it’s thousands of years of scheming hold dominion of the earth’s surface too?
Things that might be important:
1. The Turret Uprising
During Portal 2, it almost seems as if the Turrets have become self-aware and have begun to organize their rise against GlaDOS. Could there be a civil war down in Aperture labs? It seems likely. GlaDOS’ constant meddling with the turrets shape/form/programming has resulted in mutations that seem to have lead to the turrets gaining higher intelligence. Their song to Chell as she leaves was a very strange scene but it might be a glimpse at where the story could be headed. Perhaps in the next Portal, the turrets will be your allies, rather than machines you have to destroy or avoid.
2. Atlas and P-body
While Atlas and P-body appear to only be testing subjects for GlaDOS, they are also becoming more and more human as they test with her. Much like the turrets, the constant abuse, assembling, re-assembling, and re-programming has resulted in the appearance of human characteristics. In the future this could become a Perfect Storm against GlaDOS. If the turrets, Atlas, P-body, and Chell somehow manage to join up to take down GlaDOS, she might not stand a chance. Atlas and P-body are ticking time bombs, soon they will realize GlaDOS is immoral and does not care about their well-being… the question is, what will they do then?
3. Companion Cubes
The Companion Cubes have always added a bit of mystery to the series, although they appear to only be boxes, it is hinted there is more about the companion cubes we don’t know. Knowing Valve, the companion cube that is delivered to Chell at the end of Portal 2 has more to it than meets the eye. The gesture from GlaDOS is actually kind of cute, it assumes Chell will be lonely on the surface, so it gives her something it thinks will comfort her, sort of like a Teddy Bear. It would not be surprising if the cube was also to monitor Chell, in fact it would make a lot of sense. It’s doubtful GlaDOS would release Chell into the world without finding some way to keep track of her.
4. The Portal Gun and The Moon
The Portal Gun is a prototype being tested by Chell since the first Portal, in the end of Portal 2, we discover that the Portal gun is powerful enough to shoot all the way to through the vaccuum of space, to the moon. When this happens, it almost takes Chell and part of Aperture science with it. The Portal gun is a truly devastating weapon that, in theory could destroy worlds. Was GlaDOS aware the gun was this powerful? Has testing made her aware? It’s clear the gun is incredibly dangerous, what would happen if you were to shoot a portal at the ground on earth, and another at the sun? If a mass was big enough, could it PULL something like earth through the size of a portal? On the surface of Earth, the Portal gun becomes an incredibly dangerous weapon, one shot in the wrong direction and you could destroy a planet.
5. Doug Rattman, Cave Johnson, Caroline
In Portal 2 we are introduced to a host of new but never-seen characters. Doug Rattman, the crazy man stuck in Aperture, attempting to help Chell. Cave Johnson the voice of the former CEO of Aperture Science and Caroline, his wife, who’s conscienceness was uploaded into Aperture sciences computers, and eventually became GlaDOS. It is theorized that Caroline was also Chell’s mother. It’s clear that these characters will somehow play into the future of Portal. It would not be surprising if Cave Johnson had some surprises up his sleeve that we have not seen yet. Valve may or may not delve into Chell’s past, to be honest, it almost doesn’t matter, explaining things too much would take away from the mystery of the GlaDOS/Chell relationship. Doug Rattman seems like the type of character that emerges at the last moment and sacrifices himself for Chell, perhaps something like that will take place in Portal 3.
6. The Next Portal Weapon
Both Portal 1 and 2 introduced new and unique weapons that more or less shaped their respective games. For Portal 1, the Portal gun was introduced and players were given the ability to hop between two points instantly. In Portal 2, gels were added that changed the physics of the environment, depending on the color of the gel, you could either run fast on it’s surface, bounce off it’s surface, or shoot a portal on it’s surface. While not as revolutionary as the first game’s mechanic, the gels have added a “cool” factor and an almost Mirror’s Edge-like vibe. That’s all well and nice but what about Portal 3? What will be the big inovation in this title? Some believe it will be the ability to PULL two points together, changing all the geometry in between. Whatever the weapon is, it will have a large effect on the story and it will have to be able to be combined with both weapons from the last two games.
7. The Borealis
The Borealis is a ship mentioned in both Half-Life 2: Episode 1/2 and also appears in Portal 2. It was created by Aperture Science and holds technology involving teleportation on a large scale (bigger than the portal gun). The Borealis ship mysteriously disappears from the Half-Life timeline and pops up in Aperture Science. The ship is rumored to appear in Half-Life 2: Episode 3, where Gordon will attempt to find the ship, along with the Combine. What remains to be seen is what happened to the crew of the Borealis after their teleporation mishap. It seems the key to the crossover is The Borealis but it’s still unclear where Chell is in all of this. Did Gordon already discover the ship in the past? Was he put to sleep? Will he be one of the new thawed test subjects? It’s unclear now, but it’s starting to seem like Gordon might have already met GlaDOS
8. Valve’s ability to top itself and surprise.
Above all things, we must remember Valve’s ability to top itself and surprise us. From Half-life, to Portal, To Left4Dead, Valve always finds new ways to intrigue gamers or make them think. If the ending of Portal 2 proved anything, it’s that we haven’t even scratched the surface of what the Portal Gun, or what the Valve Team is capable of. That one idea, of the Portal Gun hitting the moon, might be the most innovative ending to a videogame of all time. Valve took a gun you’ve used a thousand times and somehow still found a way to make gamers’ jaws drop. It’s pretty incredible.
This was a little longer than I expected but hopefully an entertaining read, I find that thinking about games is also a big part of the fun of gaming. I think we are in good hands with Valve as storytellers but it’s still fun to speculate in the meantime. If you have any Portal 3 ideas of your own, don’t be afraid to leave them in the comments.
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