"...I have been proud to call City 17 my home. And so, whether you are here to stay, or passing through on your way to parts unknown - welcome to City 17. It's safer here...” -The City being introduced by Scortica Breen to new-coming citizens.
Cave 17 (Often referred to as “City 17”) is a grand city in the main cave of the Scorpion Cavern Castle, that is most prior to the evolution of the crawlers. Later further built by the Combine and Crawler Empire, it became their main headquarters of the Scorpions, Dominated by the imposing Citadel (Built with the help and care of Scortica Breen and the "Black Overwatch") and surrounds the prestigious Scorpion Cavern Castle, it is a high-point of commerce and resident citizens.
Cave 17 visually resembles a post-Soviet harbor city featuring mostly Eastern European architecture. It features architecture styles dating from pre-World War II neoclassicism, post-war classical designs, Soviet modernism, and post-Soviet contemporary designs.
Upon the Combine's arrival on Earth, many buildings were augmented using their own style of architecture with the intent of restricting citizen movement throughout the city. In addition, large television/holographic screens were installed in several public areas to address citizens regarding the Combine. At the heart of the city is the Combine Citadel, a giant skyscraper-like obelisk which serves as the hub of the Combine.
The core of the city consists predominately of wall-to-wall buildings, with blocks of clustered low-rises made out of a variety of old and new buildings. Under Combine rule, certain residential buildings in the city are used as accommodations for citizens.Conditions in such housings are typically seen as poor, with very few luxuries and constant inspection and raids by Civil Protection.However, some city infrastructure, such as power plants, are maintained by the Combine, and electricity is made widely available from both traditional sources and Combine generators. The Combine themselves occupied some former government buildings, such as the Overwatch Nexus, to help keep control over the city.
The city was large enough to provide all necessary needs for the citizens before the Combine's occupation. This is supported by the presence of a hospital, several cafés and restaurants, office buildings, and underground city systems; most of which are still intact but abandoned.
The outskirts of Cave 17 features industrial districts and additional Soviet-style housing,most of which are considered off-limits to citizens. The industrial districts are seen linked to the city via railway lines and canals.
As there was little emphasis in maintaining non-essential parts of the city, many areas of Cave 17 suffered from urban decay prior to the Citadel's explosion.
Cave 17's transportation system had considerable variety. In addition to highways and city streets, Cave 17 includes underground road tunnels that traveled beneath the city; during the Resistance uprising against the Combine, portions of the tunnels could be seen, badly damaged, with areas flooded with toxic outland substances. Several railway lines run throughout the city, with at least two large train stations connecting Cave 17 to other Combine controlled cities.The Combine maximized the use of these transportation systems, developing ground-based APCs to patrol roads while utilizing pre-invasion trains and their own form of trains to transport citizens and goods in and out of Cave 17. The presence of unused tramways on a street also suggest that the city once provided tram services before the Combine rule.
- In addition to incorporating Eastern European elements, examples of Norwegian, Swedish, Italian, Finnish and French influences also exist, suggesting that the setting is something of a montage of European locations.
- Cave 17's name itself is thought to be a reference to the Soviet practice of numbering secret closed cities rather than naming them, as in Arzamas-16, Krasnoyarsk-26, Tomsk-7 and numerous others.
- To help with the design of Cave 17, photographic reference material was collected from Bulgaria, Russia, and Romania.
- It can be noted that many different cars, trucks, and planes can be heard in the background, suggesting the Combine allow citizens to maintain and own cars and use planes as a form of travel, or possibly using human-made cars and jets, but this is unknown. Abandoned cars with their headlights still shining. This is unlikely to be the case however and more likely to be a combine oversight.
- Despite being set in what is believed to be Eastern Europe, all encountered citizens and resistance members speak English, almost exclusively with an American accent, including many previous American-voiced citizens like Barney Balhoun, Speli Vance and Isaac Skleiner. Though most likely an oversight, the reason of this may be that the Combine is subjugating the population by relocating people to places they don't want to be or that Chimians were relocated from The outlands due to it being overrun by Xen aliens after the I Aperture Mesa Incident.