If one company is able to set off a firestorm of speculation with one simple leaked snapshot, it’s Valve. Thanks to a tour given inside the company’s office and the ensuing tourist spreading the word to the DOTA 2 thread on Reddit, hard info about both Left 4 Dead 3 and a new Source engine can be seen on the screen of an employee who is likely updating his resume as I type this.
Valve is in one of the more unique positions as a developer and publisher; with the rise of Steam, they are now just as much in the business of selling games as they are making them. This removes the stress of having to pump out a product before it is fully tested and ready for mass consumption.
In the case of Left 4 Dead 3, I imagine this is time well spent.
The original L4D had humble beginnings in the form of Turtle Rock Studios. Their previous experience in porting and modding Half-Life made their 2008 purchase an easy decision for Valve. Turtle Rock has since become independent again, but their biggest contribution to the world of gaming will no doubt stand in the form of a team-based shooter where the only goal is for you and three of your partners, human or AI, to survive against the unrelenting wave of zombies/infected/undead/assault rifle fodder.
While the game was fun to play on Xbox Live (aside from the dozens of assholes who gunned me down because I didn’t have every map memorized, fuck off), there is an entire world of mods for the PC version that still maintains an active community to this day. Thanks to the open design of Valve games, fans have done everything from create new maps to turning the entire cast into velociraptors.
The video in that clip is taken from Left 4 Dead 2, the sequel that turned everyone’s asshole inside out and forced Valve president Gabe Newell to ensure people that content would still be produced for the original. Naturally, this would not stop the bitching from “fans” about reusing existing textures, recycling old ideas and milking people of as much money as humanly possible.
Online complaining, however, is about as prevalent as sunlight, so my hopes of a peaceful release for Left 4 Dead 3 were dashed the second this poor sap at Valve left his monitor open for prying eyes. I shudder to think what is at the bottom of the linked thread which first exposed the secret data, but if you are brave enough to swim with sharks like that, cheers.
In my review of The Last of Us, I stated quite clearly that I never needed to play another game about the end of a population due to a virus that reanimates corpses. Understand that while I stand by my statement, “need” and “want” are two entirely different desires when playing games. The narrative is rather sparse in L4D, but that is not why I enjoy the game and its sequel. There comes a time every couple of months where I pry myself away from the hard drive full of snotty independent games and gun down a ton of moving objects. With L4D, I was given the perfect setting to do just that along with an adrenaline rush that never truly wore off until I was secure behind the metal door that told me I had finished the stage.
Today, zombies come in the form of add-on maps, mobile games and other downloadable content. Left 4 Dead 3, if it is indeed being built on Valve’s next iteration of the Source engine, will no doubt beat the fuck out of any attempt at a first person shooter that arms you against the undead. I have visions of hundreds of zombies on the screen at once while three teammates bark out every immediate threat, only for you to realize that the upgraded version of the AI Director has made it so that you don’t remember anything about your current situation.
One great thing about L4D2 was the crossover, albeit brief one, in the “Passing” DLC that saw the survivors of the second game meet up with the group from the first. I would love to see one giant campaign combining all three groups in L4D3, which should not be too inconceivable if this new Source engine is as powerful as I think it could be.
Furthermore, I think Valve should take their embracing of Sony and the PlayStation platform and release a Left 4 Dead game on the PS4. I get the fact that mods and the like cannot be done to the same extent on a console as they can on PC, but there is an entire community of fans who will be buying a PS4 based solely on the Sony name and do not invest in a computer rig. While Portal 2 did outsell console versions on the PC, the fact that Gabe Newell has warmed to Sony enough to include Steam community features that combine with the PlayStation Network should be enough indication that there is incentive to develop further for Sony. Based on his criticizing of Microsoft and the Xbox Live architecture, I could imagine exclusive content being released on the PS4 as well.
Nothing in this article is designed to be radical or inflammatory because I would, for once, like to see a gathering of fans simply sit back (or forward as I do when I play) and enjoy what is to come. Left 4 Dead 3 is cause for celebration on many levels: it means the series is continuing, it means that Valve is almost ready to show us what their new engine is capable of doing, and maybe, just MAYBE, it means that Half-Life will finally be getting a proper third entry soon.