So I had a train of thought the other day, while playing Borderlands 2, a bit out of the blue, which I kinda wanna write down and since I wouldn't know where else, I'll just do it here.
Basically what I thought was - Half-Life 2 plus episodes isn't really big on optional objectives or the likes. In fact, no Valve game I've played is. Side quests aren't really a thing (Lambda caches don't count) and being very linear is pretty much a staple of the whole series. And I wondered what it'd be like to try and build some optional stuff into maps... like, go make this boom, if you're willing to take a detour, you can make it easier, I dunno, blow up Combine machinery and if you take a detour first to take out their radio relay comm thingy, it'll be easier because they won't send reinforcements. Stuff like that. Or, for instance, if along the way in Nova Prospekt, you had the opportunity to liberate incarcerated rebels and vorts, who would subsequently serve as allies during combat situations. Etc etc.
Now that's all kinda heavily influenced by my current playing through Metal Gear Solid V, where I usually, before sneaking into an outpost, start by planting explosives around their comms, power supplies, anti air guns etc, but also some through Borderlands 2 - if you bother with the sidequest of getting the power back online at station whatsitcalled, it'll unlock the shops, garage and spawn point there. Etc. I figured stuff like that would be pretty cool in Half-Life 2. Or (didn't think about that as much) Black Mesa. Fulfill objective X in area controlled by grunts, if you turn on the power for the conveyor system, you'll get supplies from the conveyor belts. Or take some time for secondary objective this and that to turn off the AC so you can sneak through the then-unlocked vents. Etc etc.
So yeah. Bit of an odd rant here... just had to write this down to revisit once I'll have time and energy to maybe try and make use of that, at some point in the distant future... do with that as you will, I'd love to hear some thoughts from yall maybe