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Relationship between the Xenians and Combine

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I was playing Half Life: Source the other day, specifically the Xen levels. While there I couldn't help but notice that many creatures on Xen bare a resemblance to the Combine synths in Half Life 2.

 

The one I noticed most are the Manta Rays. They look organic, but they make metallic sounds when hit or shot, and have seemingly mechanical parts. They shoot out some sort of beam from their belly as well- similar to the one used by the Combine gunship.

 

I notice the same thing with the Gargantuas; they appear to be metallic, and make the appropriate sounds when shot or hit. Yet they have organic qualities as well. I also doubt that those jets of flame/plasma that they shoot out of their arms are a natural thing.

 

The one I find most interesting though is the Alien Grunts. Their armor and weapons appear to be directly grafted on to them, and you can see them being manufactured in a factory on Xen, revealing that they're not natural beings. The question is, what are they being made from? We see vorts working on them, and they do share the vort trait of the third tri-fingered arm extending from their chest that they use to feed.

 

And, while this one is minor compared to the previous connections, you can see a Vortigaunt at the beginning of Half Life 2 enslaved by the Combine. The neck brace and bracelets he wears are identical to the ones worn by the Vortigaunts enslaved by the Nihilanth.

 

Laidlaw said that the Nihilanth was fleeing from the Combine. Is it possible that he was using the same methods as the Combine, having formerly served them, to make his army? That Alien Grunts are Vortigaunt synths in the same way Overwatch soldiers are human synths, and the Manta Rays and Gargantuas are living weapons made from conquered Combine species, like the Striders and Gunships? What do you think? What is your personal theory on the Xenians? And what of the Controllers? They resemble the Nihilanth in more ways than one, yet the Nihilanth asserts that he is "the last".

 

I for one hope that the Nihilanth and his ilk get expanded on more in Episode 3.

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From the way it looked, your assertions seem quite logical.

 

As for the controllers/Nihilanth, I think the Nihilanth was the last of the original controller species. My guess is that the HL2 controllers are a race of clones, and the Nihilanth was trying to end them. (or just be more powerful, or to escape them, or...)

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Here's another similarity I noticed: on Xen, you can find these machines that do nothing but thump the ground. Reminds me one of the Combine thumpers, no?

 

http://images1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20100129142112/half-life/en/images/c/cd/Xen_thumper_brush.jpg

 

http://images.wikia.com/half-life/en/images/1/17/Thumper_Coast.jpg

 

Also, didn't the Alien Grunt factory just remind anyone else of the conveyor belt in the Citadel with Synths on them?

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For those curious I actually emailed Laidlaw about some of my questions. To my surprise, he responded. Rather quickly. Some of his answers just spawned more questions, so I sent another email asking about those, but I haven't gotten a response for 'em.

 

I asked him about the intent of the Nihilanth's design (he looked like a slave, yet Laidlaw said the Combine never captured him), how Xen can support life if nothing is native to it, the Nihilanth's use of Combine technology (slave collars, thumpers, what looked like a Synth factory), and the length of the Nihilanth's species war against the Combine.

 

He responded:

 

1. That's why you shouldn't take out-of-game explanations too seriously. You've pointed out a good contradiction between the art and the explanation. It does suggest the Nihilanth was a prisoner at least for a time. I like that theory. As far as I know, it could be what was in the artist's mind...we certainly never worked any of this out at the time HL1 was being made. And retrofitting is a clumsy process.

 

2. I don't think it's coincidence, once a technology is known/shared, it is bound to have a widespread influence that goes in all directions.

 

3. It's just chance that living things ended up there. It's like a big filter. Stuff gets caught in it.

 

4. I think all the creatures you see in proximity to the Nihilanth must have a family relationship--vorts, controllers, grunts. The mantas were just another lifeform stuck in Xen, not really anything to do with the Nihilanth.

 

5. Probably happened pretty quickly. But there are no calendars or timelines for any of this stuff.

 

It's really hard to give definitive answers outside of the game because this is the sort of thing future HL games might decide is interesting material to develop in unforeseeable ways.

Edited by Guest

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Yeah, the fact HL1 never really had much of a story to begin with and the fact HL2 tried retconning everything that transpired in HL1... I dunno, I would guess there isn't much of a connection between Xenians and the Combine, if any connection at all. The only Xenians we see in HL2 are Vortigaunts, we never see any of the other aliens from HL1 so I would guess that HL2 doesn't have that much of a connection.

 

The connection you found could be accidental, I don't know, but I respect Laidlaw for answering you so quickly.

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The Combine probably found Earth through Xen due to the Resonance Cascade and the Nihilanth's defeat. They then made use of the life found on Xen and used it to help invade and enslave Earth.

 

I think the real connection between HL1 and 2 is that HL1's events made Earth noticed by the Combine, and they figured it was a planet worth 'exploring'.

 

The suggested connections are cool and interesting though.

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