Left 4 Dead 3: Why Valve Hasn’t Announced Its Release Date (and What We Think Could’ve Been in L4D3)

Left 4 dead poster

Last month, Valve confirmed that it definitely cannot count to three after it finally put to rest rumors that they were working on Left 4 Dead 3.

In a statement to IGN, Valve denied that it was working on anything related to the successful zombie survival FPS game first released in 2008. After the release of Left 4 Dead 2 in 2009, rumors of a Left 4 Dead 3 continued to spread around the internet by the game’s fans from 2013 to 2016. Sadly, aside from a Left 4 Dead VR Spin-off (though based on Valve denying a VR sequel, this won’t be the Left 4 Dead 3 fans are expecting), there isn’t news of an upcoming PC game featuring the gameplay, special infected, or Gnome Chompski we’ve come to love.

However, something in their statement caught my attention. To quote them:

“We’ve seen rumors to this effect for the last couple of months. We did briefly explore some Left 4 Dead next gen opportunities a few years ago. But we are absolutely not working on anything L4D related now, and haven’t for years.”

The key phrase here is “did briefly explore some Left 4 Dead next gen opportunities.” What they’re saying isn’t a “No, we have never had intentions of creating a Left 4 Dead 3 and we won’t start now over a decade later.” What they’re saying is that they did have the intention of creating a third game, but something cancelled the idea. In fact, Valve News Network claimed that L4D3 was in the works sometime between 2011 and 2012, but it was ultimately cancelled in 2017.

While we may never know why it was cancelled, we do know all the rumors and speculations surrounding it. Here’s the situation regarding Left 4 Dead 3 and, just for fun, what we think might have been in the game had it continued.

What To Know About Left 4 Dead 3

We know for a fact that Valve isn’t making a VR Left 4 Dead 3. They confirmed that they weren’t making it last month when rumors began to circulate once more. However, this isn’t the first time rumors of a third game circulated on the internet.

In 2012, Left 4 Dead lead writer Chet Faliszek hinted a third game during an interview with Eurogamer, but it’s been years and still nothing to show for it. And in 2017, Faliszek left Valve, so he couldn’t have been writing the game for the last three years.

But if not Valve, some fans are speculating that Turtle Rock Studios (the developer behind the original Left 4 Dead) would take back the reins. Unfortunately, this is unlikely. In early 2019, Turtle Rock announced that they were releasing a zombie first-person shooter called Back 4 Blood. It sounds a lot like Left 4 Dead and we may see the similarities between the two games, but we’ll wait to try out the game before we make any judgments.

Our Predictions

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here’s our predictions on what we could have seen had Left 4 Dead 3 been released.

First of all, I think Left 4 Dead 3 would have also been set somewhere in the United States. Left 4 Dead takes place in Pennsylvania all the way down to the Florida Keys. Left 4 Dead 2 starts in Savannah, Georgia and then heads west, takes a stop at the shoreside town of Ducatel, Mississippi, and then ending in New Orleans, Louisiana. So, at the moment, only Southeastern United States was explored in the games. It’s possible that Left 4 Dead 3 would explore other parts of the country, most likely places with different climate. Like, what would it be like surviving the zombie apocalypse in places like Alaska, for example? Or what about surviving in highly-populated states like California?

Next, we’ll most definitely be introduced to a set of four new Survivors. I doubt these characters will be related to the Survivors in Left 4 Dead or Left 4 Dead 2 because there wouldn’t be any other reason to do this other than as a simple Easter egg. If we’re being accurate about time, then it’s likely Left 4 Dead 3 takes place years after the First Infection, compared to the first two games that took place roughly at the same time (the final campaign in the Left 4 Dead timeline connects with the second campaign in the Left 4 Dead 2 timeline).

What we do know, however, is that there was a supposed 2016 Left 4 Dead 3 leak. Part of that leak included the assets of an older male character. Is this a Survivor we get to play as, or just another NPC?

I’d like to see a Left 4 Dead universe that takes place years after Left 4 Dead 2. This means that both Survivors and the Infected have had more than enough time to evolve and adapt.

The Same Uncommon and Special Infected, Plus More

I expect to see more Uncommon Infected like the CEDA Workers, Fallen Survivors, Mud Men, and more. These are the Infected that are not necessarily more lethal than the rest, but their presence is a nuisance to the player because of their abilities to either attract more Infected or impair a Survivor’s ability to move and react. This is what made Left 4 Dead 2 more difficult than Left 4 Dead, since it only had Common Infected and Special Infected.

Of course, I also expect to see the Special Infected: The Boomer, Hunter, Smoker, Witch, and Tank introduced in Left 4 Dead, and the Charger, Jockey, and Spitter introduced in Left 4 Dead 2. There may be changes to their difficulty, appearance, gender (just like how the Boomer got a female counterpart in Left 4 Dead 2), and capabilities, but their features will be roughly the same.

What I predict, though, is that Valve will be adding more Special Infected to the game. For example, there was originally supposed to be a Special Infected known as the Screamer. Like the Witch, he was generally passive and would not attack the Survivors if left alone. However, if a Survivor gets too close or agitates him, he will run away and scream, alerting a horde to come and attack the survivors.

The Screamer was later taken out of the game because of his difficulty to spot in a crowd (compared to other Special Infected with unique size and movement). Instead, his agitation concept was what later gave birth to the Witch, while his horde-attracting abilities were given to the Boomer (who was originally just meant to explode and hurt the Survivors).

And aside from the older male character during the 2016 Valve News Network leak, the source files contained the assets of a Special Infected known as The Nocturnal. It’s unknown what this Special Infected does, but it possibly has something to do with Left 4 Dead 3 supposed day/night cycle feature.

I would have liked to see one or two new Special Infected that evolved from the time between L4D2 and L4D3. We have enough pinners in the game, so maybe something like the Boomer or the Spitter that can inconvenience Survivors but not necessarily kill them. This would be a great addition especially to versus games, since this one would need the assistance of other teammates to take down a Survivor.

A Crossover Featuring the OG L4D and L4D2 Characters

Left 4 Dead was released in 2008, and its sequel Left 4 Dead 2 was released exactly one year later in 2009. While these two games took place in roughly the same time in the same universe but in different parts of the United States, there was nothing to suggest that any of the eight playable characters know each other, nor do the NPCs in one game appear in the other. It wasn’t until the release of The Sacrifice and The Passing downloadable content in 2010 did we see a cross-over between the Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 Characters.

The Passing is a Left 4 Dead 2 campaign that takes place after Dead Center and before Dark Carnival. The Passing takes place after The Sacrifice, when the four playable characters of L4D2 run into Zoey, Louis, and Francis. They are seen in the first and last chapters of the game and provide some backup against the infected.

I think we could have seen a cross-over between the L4D3 characters and one of the two groups. My money would have been on the L4D2 characters because when we last see the L4D gang, they were dead-set on going to an island in Florida Keys to escape the zombie apocalypse. The fates of Ellis, Coach, Rochelle, and Nick, however, are still up in the air. Which leads me to my next prediction:

Resolution: What Happened to the L4D2 Characters?

Aside from the release of The Sacrifice and The Passing DLC in 2010, we also get a digital comic book called “Left 4 Dead: The Sacrifice” which ties to the events of the eponymous DLC. Aside from the fact that we get flashbacks showing Louis, Zoey, Francis, and Bill’s life after the first infection, we also see what happens to the four of them after the events of the original final campaign in Left 4 Dead, Blood Harvest.

After getting rescued at the end of the campaign, the four Survivors are taken to Millhaven, a heavily-guarded U.S. Army base that has not heard from other bases in the last nine days. They’re forced into quarantine and later learn that they are Carriers: people infected with the virus but showing no symptoms of turning. They convince Lt. Mora that their walls can’t hold out against the Special Infected, but his commanding officer, Major Everly, doesn’t believe it and refuses to evacuate. Believing all Carriers to be on the side of the Infected and refusing to keep his platoon in an unsafe outpost, Mora starts a mutiny and sounds the evacuation alarm, drawing the attention of all Infected to their base while he tries to escape with his men.

The four Survivors manage to escape the base together with two soldiers (Jeff and Annie) and a Carrier doctor. Jeff and Annie leave the group to run elsewhere and most likely die in the process. They start a train heading south to Florida, but Bill refuses to slow down the train to save the doctor, claiming that they only “come back for our own,” much to Zoey’s dismay.

The final chapter shows roughly the same events we see in the DLC. The Survivors end up at the end of the line somewhere in Florida. Bill believes that since the Infected cannot swim, they’ll be safe in the Florida Keys, and starts looking for a boat. They find a sailboat filled with enough provisions and medicine, but to drive it to the Keys, they have to raise a bridge blocking the way by turning on loud generators that attract the attention of all nearby Infected, including three Tanks. However, the generator gives out, leaving the Survivors vulnerable to the approaching horde. Bill sacrifices himself to start the generator before getting mauled to death by the Tanks. They wait for the horde to disperse, (and during this time run into the Left 4 Dead 2 Survivors in The Passing), before getting on the boat and sailing to the Keys. And based on this ending scene in the comic strip, it’s implied that they successfully made it to the Keys and to safety.

The ending of the L4D2 characters, however, isn’t as clear. At the end of the final campaign, The Parish, Coach, Ellis, Nick, and Rochelle end up reaching the rescue helicopter and being taken away to safety. But while L4D2 writer Chet Faliszek say that the military took the survivors to a cruise ship in the Caribbean to escape the infection, we don’t really see this happening, so I don’t know whether this should be considered canon. And if you look at all the clues, it’s possible that the real ending might be much more ominous.

If you look at the timeline of the Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 campaigns, you know that the events of The Sacrifice comics happened around the time of Dead Center campaign. This means the military already know about Carriers by the time the Left 4 Dead 2 survivors make it to New Orleans. Major Everly may not have found contact with other military bases, but based on the ending of Left 4 Dead 2, it was clear that there were still working military outposts. But what’s to say that what happened in Millhaven isn’t also happening in other military bases? In the chapter “The Bridge,” you can even hear the soldiers trying to deduce whether the survivors are Carriers before he agrees to wait for them when they cross the bridge.

So, after they were flown away, what really happened to them? Sure, the claim that they were taken to a cruise ship is a likely story, but so is them getting trapped in an army base for Carrier testing, too.

Less Glitches, More Advanced Gaming

One of the things that really grinds my gears is when gamers on Twitch or YouTube say things like “Left 4 Dead Speed-run” or “Left 4 Dead 2 No Damage run” and then proceed to exploit glitches or loopholes in the game that allow them to pass through the map by cheating. I can accept people jumping over the low walls in the New Orleans area by jumping on top of a Common Infected’s head or jumping from the top of the building at the start of the No Mercy campaign, but jumping on invisible walls to avoid the horde during crescendo events is just plain cheating.

Because we’ve come a long way from games that were made in the late ’00s, we’ll probably see a more advanced world sans these glitches. We’ve all seen how Rockstar can go from the rudimentary Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas to the advanced Grand Theft Auto V, so I’m pretty sure Valve can do the same with the Left 4 Dead series.

A More Open Map with Multiple Paths

Both Left 4 Dead games are set in maps, and while players are allowed to roam wherever they want, it’s very limited. To finish the game, you’d have to find the pre-determined path set by the game.

In Left 4 Dead 2’s Dead Center campaign, for example, it means leaving the rooftop, down the hallway of one floor, into the supply closet, across the ledge, to the stairs leading to the floor below, and then taking the elevator to the bottom floor. After a while, it just becomes predictable where to go. Sure, in the Dead Center campaign’s Mall, there’s a point where the AI Director might choose to make you turn right to the hallway on the ground floor or left to end up in a toy store on the second floor.

But these things are not the player’s choice. They’re controlled. So, what if Valve simply creates an open world and leaves the players to decide how they’ll get from start to finish? This will mean the players will have to rely on dialogue for them to understand where they’re supposed to head. It’s also possible that no matter which route players choose to go, they’ll still have to do the same crescendo events to get to the safehouse. But the idea is that the players have the freedom to explore this open world and choose where they want to go.

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