There’s a set of screenshots making the rounds right now, which fans have posited to have been connected to Valve’s amorphous Left 4 Dead 3 project at some point. Though these images seem to prove that a follow up to the 2009 zombie slaying epic Left 4 Dead 2 was indeed in the works at some point, fans know better than to get their hopes up about stuff like this. Of course, in typical Valve fashion, it seems like the game was quietly cancelled before ever receiving an official announcement.
Posted to Imgur by user VNN123456443, the screen caps show off a vaguely Middle Eastern environment, which has yet to be explored in the Left 4 Dead series. In fact, the images seem like they would be better suited as leaks for a fan-made Counter Strike: Global Offensive mod map. There really isn’t anything distinctly Left 4 Dead about what’s on display, and it’s curious to think about the direction the team behind the game may have been taking before the endeavor was eventually scrapped.
These screenshots are also eerily similar to a series of leaked teaser images released in late 2017, which ultimately culminated in the release of a remastered Dust II map in CS:GO. Unfortunately, these new leaks don’t seem to be linked to any pre-established game, and they have been dated back to around 2013, which would seem to indicate that whatever game for which they were intended has long ago been canned.
We do know that Valve was busy laying the groundwork for a few new games which never came to fruition around that time. These images appear to show off the upgrades made to Valve’s Source 2 engine, which would have been in its infancy in 2013. Source 2 has appeared in several games since it was officially unveiled in 2015—those being Dota 2, Artifact, and the VR tech demo The Lab—but we have yet to see what it can do in a fully-realized action shooter in the vein of something like Left 4 Dead or, dare we say it, the Half-Life series.
In a way, these screenshots provide a sad glimpse at a reality that never was. Valve was, at least at one time, apparently primed to set the world on fire with a brand new engine and a host of new titles, but, for one reason or another, that never came to be. Aside from an underwhelming card game and a small Portal spinoff, Valve hasn’t developed anything truly worthwhile since Dota 2, and they haven’t delivered a single player, story-driven experience of any kind since 2011’s phenomenal puzzler Portal 2.
The idea that Valve would ever release a third entry in any of their beloved franchises has been a meme for nearly as long as the term has seen popular usage. Rumors, leaked storyboards, and even screenshots such as these have been circulating for quite some time, but the fact of the matter remains that the developer simply doesn’t seem interested in churning out new titles.
One glimmer of hope, however, can be found in Turtle Rock Studios’ upcoming zombie shooter Back 4 Blood. Though it’s still early in production, the title is an unmistakable homage to Valve’s apparently nullified series, and those pouring over these newly-leaked screens and wistfully asking themselves “what if” may want to get behind that project instead.