Valve really don't have a great track record with third-part releases do they? Not if the elusive Half-Life 3 is anything to go by (lets be honest, we're probably never gonna see it, are we?).
Next month it'll be six years since the last instalment in the Left 4 Dead series, Left 4 Dead 2. The zombie themed first-person shooter series produced it's two main games just a year apart, but now six years down the line there's still little sign that we're going to be getting a Left 4 Dead 3. Dammit Gaben, why do you do these things to us?
How Far We've Come...
In fact the last addition to the franchise was 2012's Cold Stream DLC, the third DLC available for Left 4 Dead 2. There was a new game released last year... for arcades in Japan, and Chet Faliszek (L4D Valve writer) did confirm that he'd like to make a third instalment sometime down the road... three years ago:
Faliszek: "You know, some time down the road. Like anything, I would say that to all of our games. So that's not a promise of when or where... I really love working on that series. It's one of my favourite series. It's just so much fun with the characters and the world. I love zombies and I love horror. So, yeah."
Additionally Turtle Rock (the developer who first created the games and was then bought over by Valve) left Valve in 2011 to be reborn as an independent company. Turtle Rock co-founder Chris Ashton recently expressed interest in working on a third instalment, but since Left 4 Dead is now the intellectual property of Valve it's all up to them and even Ashton isn't too optimistic about the possibility:
Ashton: "A lot of people would jump at the chance to work on Left 4 Dead again in the future but… it’s probably... I would say it’s unlikely but not impossible."
It's Not All Bad (Or Is It?)
Well, there was that "leaked report" recently, as rumoured by Master Herald. According to this supposed leak from a former Valve employee Left 4 Dead 3 is in development, and though it's highly unlikely to be true let's do a summary anyway:
- To be released late 2016/early 2017
- Will be a "prequel/sequel" to Left 4 Dead 2, set one month after the initial outbreak
- Will have six new campaigns: Crash-land, Impasse, Inquisitor Land, Early Destination, Cliff-Hanger & No Mercy.
- And four new survivors: the gangster Irvin, 24-year old Katherine, comic-book nerd Keenan and Kenpo fighter Garrett Jr.
- Will introduce a backpack system which means each character can carry a specific item only.
I mean this sounds pretty good, especially the backpack system which would introduce a new strategy element; but bear in mind this is likely wild speculation or outright nonsense, especially given that the same report claims that Valve is prioritising Left 4 Dead 3 over Half-Life 3 (which is also in development apparently).
Can We Blame Steam?
Far more likely is that there's no news because there's nothing to report, and why is this? Probably because of Valve's Steam service and the online multiplayers that have made Gabe Newell a billionaire. Newell has previously expressed his distaste for console gaming and belief that developing for console is a waste of time after all, and given their recent track record it certainly does look like Valve are keeping their focus purely on online MMORPGs and the Steam store.
Valve's last big release was Dota 2, the massively popular online battle area based game which despite being free to play reportedly makes $18 million a month for Valve. That's a lot of zeros, far more in the long run than what you're going to see developing a PC/console game like Left 4 Dead.
This is the same reason often cited in speculation as to why we're probably not going to get a Half-Life 3 either and if accurate it's a real shame. Not least of all because Left 4 Dead has pretty killer online features too which would be great for Valve to expand upon instead of merely dumping by the wayside.
As usual we'll just have to wait, shuffling around groaning aimlessly with our jaws hanging open for what may never arrive. Ah, now I think I know where they got those zombie models from...