It’s been a while since I have played Half-Life 2 and we all remember how annoying the Squad system was but what about the rebels in general?
At no point during the game did I actively protect them, especially if they had a weapon.
I’m sure some players remember better than I but did any rebels without weapons help you? I don’t think so.
Anyway, it’s an interesting question. Imagine there WERE children in the game. Would we have made an effort to save them? At the risk of our life and mission. How different would HL2 have been if there had been children in it?
Even in mods, I tend to see the NPCs as story elements or part of the playing universe, but I have no emotional attachment to them. Do you?