After six years of stagnation, rumors emerge that Left 4 Dead 3 will be arriving next year, and one Game Rant writer is already aboard the hype train.
It’s somewhat of an understatement to say that I’m extremely excited about the prospect of Left 4 Dead 3 finally being made. Gamers have been waiting a long time to see a new game released by Valve, but sadly, with the departure of Half-Life‘s writer, it doesn’t look like Half-Life 3 will be happening anytime soon. However, the hundreds of hours I’ve spent playing Left 4 Dead and its sequel have made me beyond hyped at the possibility of Left 4 Dead 3 arriving in 2017.
Although I play new games all the time, I always find myself coming back to the Left 4 Dead series. Between the likable characters, the excellent campaigns, mutations, and mods, I just can’t seem to stay away from the games for too long. Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 changed the way multiplayer co-op games were made, especially in the zombie genre, and that’s why I still adore it.
Other game developers aren’t afraid to show appreciation for it either. Not only have tons of games emulated the way that co-op works in the Left 4 Dead series, they’ve incorporated characters from the series into their own titles. You can play as the Left 4 Dead survivors in Resident Evil 6 Mercenaries mode and in Zombie Army Trilogy, use Left 4 Dead skins in Minecraft for Xbox, or run into the snarky-but-lovable Bill in Payday‘s No Mercy heist. That doesn’t even touch on the more minor easter eggs, like Left 4 Dead nods showing up in Dying Light and Dead Rising 2: Case West.
Though gamers often joke that Valve seems to be incapable of counting to three, it makes a lot of sense for Left 4 Dead 3 to be first game to finally breach this blockage. Left 4 Dead has what singleplayer Valve games don’t: tons of replayability; a large cast of playable characters; and the ability for up to eight players to face off against each other. Valve’s hit free-to-play title, Team Fortress 2, doesn’t show any signs of slowing down, and with gamers deeply entrenched (and indebted) in the hat economy, releasing a Team Fortress 3 doesn’t make much sense at this time. While it’d be great to see a Portal 3, the finality of Chell’s story means that it would require coming up with something completely new, so that could take a long time to develop – even by Valve-time standards.
But the thing about Left 4 Dead that especially makes me happy to see a sequel is that the universe has just barely been touched on. Through the games, DLC, and Left 4 Dead graphic novel, gamers have been given a basic concept of how the infection works, spreads, and mutates. But despite that, the stories of the prior games have been left pretty open-ended, leaving gamers to wonder what the future holds beyond a matter of months.
Between Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2, the green flu managed to mutate to create three additional special infected and variations of the existing infected (like the Boomette), so the possibilities in the months or years to come are huge. From a developer point of view, Valve specifically created enemies like the Spitter and the Jockey because they’d noticed that gamers would hole up in a corner to survive finales. Their attempt to curb this behavior was effective, to say the least, and that’s with only a year of development time – who knows what they’ll come up with to after all these years?
In addition, the games have been designed so that every playthrough is a little bit different. While other multiplayer games can become predictable, with set spawning enemies and bosses, the A.I. Director keeps things constantly changing in the Left 4 Dead series. The first iteration gave gamers randomly spawning infected and special infected, witches blocking gamers’ paths, and tanks to slow down progress if gamers progress too quickly. Left 4 Dead 2 amped up the difficulty further by throwing storms at gamers, and occasionally opening alternate pathways. With the new Source engine on its way, and given its capabilities, we can hope that Left 4 Dead 3 takes this even further. Changing the environment, blocking paths, and rewarding exploration would be a fantastic addition to the series that would extend the replayability even further.
While a leak is all well and good, I’m still hoping that it turns out to be legit. Aside from the debacle of Half-Life 2 being leaked, tons of so-called leaks have come out of Valve, only to be proven false. Informants have claimed that Left 4 Dead 3 was in development for years, Half-Life 3 was on the verge of release, and more, but so far nothing has happened. While the level of detail in this leak makes it more likely that it’s got some basis in reality, there’s no telling until Valve makes an official announcement.
In any case, I hope that Valve has taken this time to fully refine what made the original Left 4 Dead great and Left 4 Dead 2 made somewhat of a mess of. While I enjoy Left 4 Dead 2 plenty, gamers had a point that the game featured so few improvements (and had so many shortcomings) that it could have been released as an expansion rather than an entirely new title.
Of course, back then, Valve wasn’t publishing its own games and had to answer to Electronic Arts. After the massive success of Left 4 Dead, it’s no wonder that EA was pushing for a quick buck, and thus Left 4 Dead 2 was released a mere year later. However, now that Valve has full ownership of the series and no third-party publisher to answer to, I’m hoping that there are massive and impressive changes made to the next game of the series that make it worthy of being a standalone title.
The Left 4 Dead series is one that my friends and I find ourselves returning to time and time again because it’s just plain fun. The characters are unique and enjoyable, the AI director is punishing and keeps you on your toes, and the added mutations, new campaigns, and thousands of mods released by fans keep it fresh year after year. I’ll keep playing Left 4 Dead whether or not Valve actually releases a sequel, but I sure hope they’re ready to count to three.
Left 4 Dead 3 is rumored to release in 2017.