We know nothing of Freeman's psychological state or social cognitive functionality before the Black Mesa incident. We have no idea about how he was affected by the resonance cascade. In fact, how do we know that Freeman is even human anymore after the event?Gordon Freeman is supposed to be a scientist and it makes no sense that this guy doesn’t speak.
Which is true of many games from nearly 16 years ago - for example, who would make, let alone publish, a new batch of Leisure Suit Larry games? The 2013 remake of Painkiller (originally a 2004 release) wasn't received half as well as the first title, namely for it's poor AI and overly simple nature. And we will never see the likes of Catwoman (the game) ever again - thankfully. Yes, the gameplay in HL2 has dated quite poorly, but why would design choices made more than 16 years exclude a return to that franchise?but if you were to release a first person shooter like that now, many developers would say that the gameplay felt dated.
I think this is the issue, for Valve at least - there's pretty nothing about any 1st person shooter that comes out today that offers something completely new or innovative. VR provided an escape route to follow that allowed them to create afresh, rather than fundamentally rehash the same old game mechanics. But I can't help feel that Valve are not seeing the bigger picture here: games don't need to be revolutionary to be successful, commercially or critically, even today. Doom (2016) is an excellent example: it's about as generic as you can get, but each mechanic was tuned to near perfection. As a game, it's hugely more than the sum of its parts.In my opinion plot is not an issue. A factor, sure, but not what stopped them in the first place. They can and will hire AAA Hollywood storytellers to put something truly amazing together in terms of plot. It's gameplay/experience where they fell short (by their own expectations).