Left 4 Dead 3 – Can We Expect a 2017 Release?

Last week marked the 8th year anniversary of the release of Left 4 Dead, a zombie first-person shooter game that took the gaming world by storm when it released in 2008. It was followed up a year later with Left 4 Dead 2, but concrete news on the next sequel, Left 4 Dead 3, has been hard to come by with Valve remaining as tight lipped as ever.

It’s been seven years since the last Left 4 Dead game was released so a follow up is long overdue. It’s also one of Valve’s most popular franchises, so there’s surely got to be an incentive there for Valve to develop Left 4 Dead 3. While the year has gone without any concrete news or announcements from Valve themselves, we have at least learned several things about a potential Left 4 Dead 3 game.

Let’s take a look at what we know about Left 4 Dead 3 so far.

The main thing we’ve picked up on is that it does look like Left 4 Dead 3 will happen. We just don’t know when, but we wouldn’t put it past Valve releasing the game on November 17th, the date that Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 both released on. Could we see Left 4 Dead 3 released on Friday November 17th, 2017? We certainly hope so.

There are several encouraging signs to point to a potential release in 2017. Turtle Rock studios, the creators of Left 4 Dead, recently released some new maps and a campaign for the game on PC, 8 years after it was first released. While the new content was partly unfinished, it proved that Left 4 Dead is still on the minds of Valve who own the rights to the franchise. We do know for sure though that Turtle Rock are not involved in any development for Left 4 Dead 3; the studio themselves have come out and clarified that they aren’t involved nor do they hold any rights to the Left 4 Dead franchise.

Not only that, but earlier this year Valve released a benchmark tool for the HTC Vive. The benchmark contained some references to “Half-Life 3” and, of course, Left 4 Dead 3. The tool is built on the Source Engine, the game engine that Valve uses for all of their games, and as a result some gamers did some digging through the files and uncovered some things related to Left 4 Dead 3. What they found was what looked to be a texture for a Left 4 Dead 3 survivor.

Then in July, Valve employee Tristan Reidford dropped the biggest hint yet that Left 4 Dead 3 is indeed real after he posted a screenshot for a tutorial which showed his folder set-up on his computer. Under his favourite folders, you can see a folder named Left 4 Dead 3. Tristan Reidford is a conceptual artist for Valve, so he would definitely be one of the first people to work on Left 4 Dead 3 if it exists, which it looks like it does. The fact that he or Valve never tried to offer an explanation or release a statement as to why there was a Left 4 Dead 3 folder on his computer, coupled with the fact that he subtly replaced the screenshot with one that didn’t show the folder, points to the game being in existence and that the original post was an honest slip-up. It wasn’t meant to be seen by the public.

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Despite being 7 years old, Valve are still continuing to update Left 4 Dead 2 as well with 7 updates being deployed so far this year. They’ve also been showing Left 4 Dead some love with two updates this year as well as the release of Turtle Rock’s Dam It campaign.

Left 4 Dead 2 is still incredibly popular as well. On Steam, it currently reaches a peak of 10,000 users at any one time playing the game. It also came to Xbox One back in March via backwards compatibility but is struggling to gain popularity on the platform with the game starting to show its age and with a lot of gamers saying that Left 4 Dead 2 is broken on Xbox One. Despite updating the PC version regularly, it does look like Valve are focusing on the PC version of the game more so than the Xbox One version.

When it comes to reports that have given the most detailed information about Left 4 Dead 3 though, we have to go back to January when Half-Life lead writer Marc Laidlaw left Valve. As a result it was reported that Valve’s attention switched from “Half Life 3” to Left 4 Dead 3 with the company said to be aiming for a 2017 release. Not only that, but the Express also claimed to have heard about what the campaigns would be titled as well as the character’s names.

According to the report, Left 4 Dead 3 will have a female lead named Katherine. In total there will be 4 characters, with three guys completing the line-up alongside Katherine. These are said to be Irvin, Garrett Jr., and Keenan. There are also 6 campaigns apparently titled No Mercy, Cliff-Hanger, Early Destination, Crashland, Impasse, and Inquisitor Land.

When it comes to games, Valve are a funny studio. Despite owning some of the most popular PC games of all-time, it’s been several years since they last released a game. We do know that Valve are putting a lot of work into virtual reality and are trying to push the HTC Vive into more gamer’s hands. 2016 has seen the launch of VR, but it hasn’t been an incredible success on the PC as some people would have expected. The two biggest issues blocking a bigger take up are currently the price and the games line-up. If Valve are working on Left 4 Dead 3, there’s a good chance that it will support VR.

2017 will be a big year for virtual reality and could make or break the technology. It’s crucial that Valve pull out something big and try to persuade more people to grab an HTC Vive. Therefore, a release of Left 4 Dead 3 would not only bring in a huge amount of revenue for the company itself, but a VR compatible Left 4 Dead 3 could be just the game the technology needs to really get going. Perhaps that is why Valve have taken so long to release it? Arizona Sunshine will be the closest game on VR to a potential Left 4 Dead 3, so Valve will almost definitely be keeping a close eye to see how well it does.

arizona-sunshine

In addition to VR, we know that Valve are working on a new Source engine, Source 2.0, thanks to someone who leaked the news on NeoGAF before it was picked up by The Escapist. Since Valve looks to be developing a new source engine, that would point to the company developing games to take advantage of the new engine. While they currently have CS:GO and Dota 2 as well as Team Fortress 2, it wouldn’t make much sense to put money and resources into developing Source 2.0 for their current titles given that they are all free-to-play games and are already making money from Valve. Those games don’t need to be moved to a new engine. You can bet that Valve would want a game such as Left 4 Dead 3 being created on a brand new source engine though.

When Will Left 4 Dead 3 Release?

From all of the leaks and rumours that have emerged over the past year, as well as the current state of gaming and virtual-reality, it looks like there could be a possibility of the game releasing in 2017. If it does release next year, we’d expect it to release on November 17th, 2017.

By releasing then it would give Valve just under a year to try and kick-start the HTC Vive and virtual reality. By November, the price of the Vive should have reduced a little, and if Valve want a surge of users picking up a Vive around the holiday season, bundling in Left 4 Dead 3 would not be a bad way to go about it.

When do you think we will see Left 4 Dead 3? 2017? 2018? Never? Let us know in the comments!

Anyone who guesses the correct date will receive a free copy of Left 4 Dead 3…when it releases….hopefully…

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Stephen is Gaming Respawn's Editor-in-Chief and takes care of the day-to-day running of the site. You're most likely to see him chilling in the news section where he happens to spend most of his time covering the latest news.
  • Mooncalf

    Probably autumn 2017 😀