Last month marked six years since the last instalment in the popular zombie themed first-person shooter video game series Left 4 Dead, and now with still no news coming in regarding the anticipated follow up it's looking increasingly likely that Left 4 Dead 3 has gone the way of Half-Life 3 - spiralling in development hell with little hope of ever seeing a solid release date set.
Let's be honest, Valve really don't have a great track record with third-part releases at this point. The Left 4 Dead franchise released its two main games (Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2) a mere year apart, but six years down the line there's still little sign that we're going to be getting a Left 4 Dead 3.
Dammit Gabe Newell, why do you do these things to us?
The last addition we had to the series was the Cold Stream DLC (above), released for Left 4 Dead 2 a long three years back. And it was around this time that Chet Faliszek (Left 4 Dead Valve writer) confirmed that he'd like to make a third instalment "some time down the road".
"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."
Again that was three years back, so don't get your hopes up.
Most recently there was the so-called "leaked report" from a former Valve employee which stated that Left 4 Dead 3 is in development. The report supposedly said that the game, which would be released late 2016 or early 2017 would be a "prequel/sequel" to Left 4 Dead 2 (whatever that means) and would feature new campaigns and characters. It also spoke of a new backpack system which would mean each character could carry a specific item only, lending a new strategy element to the games.
Before you get your hopes up though 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).
Furthermore Kotaku have previously reached out to Valve asking if there would be a prequel themed Left 4 Dead 3, and were told that a prequel wasn't in development (though this was back in 2012 so... you never know).
The issue is further muddled by the fact that Turtle Rock (the developer who first created the games and was then bought over) 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 they no longer own the intellectual property rights for the franchise it's all up to Valve on that front, and Ashton isn't too optimistic about the possibility:
"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."
Sadly, like Half-Life 3, it's looking like making new Left 4 Dead games just isn't a priority for Valve anymore. Valve now make an incredible amount of profit from the massively popular and hugely profitable MOBA Dota 2 and their Steam service itself, so putting in the time and resources needed to make new games for the PC and console systems is, from a business viewpoint, pretty redundant.
"If you want to do another Half-Life game and you want to ignore everything we've learned in shipping Portal 2 and in shipping all the updates on the multiplayer side, that seems like a bad choice."
That's fine Newell, we didn't want another Left 4 Dead anyway. And nobody mention Half-Life 3, the scars run deep.