The version of Duke Nukem Forever that hit consoles and PC in 2011 is vastly different from the one advertised by original developer 3D Realms. For years following the massive success of Duke Nukem 3D, fans awaited a follow-up with their beloved movie-quoting hero, but turmoil behind the scenes led to an eternal development cycle and the implosion of the company that created the character. One of the few times that the public saw that oft-delayed follow-up running was at E3 2001, and the build from that demo may soon be public thanks to a leak.
— Instant Gaming (@InstantGamingEN) May 9, 2022
As reported on by Duke4.net, a leaker named x0r on the notorious forum 4chan claims that he has the game on hand as well as the editor and the source code, and it’s all backed with numerous gameplay videos and screenshots. With all that information and a playable version of what was in development at the time, the still very much alive Duke Nukem mod community could rally together to create something playable out of this distinct version of the game. However, it may not be much of a game at all, given the state it was in at the time. Original 3D Realms co-founder George Broussard tweeted out that he believes the leak is real, although he disputed how playable this version of the game is.
“You should heavily temper expectations,” said Broussard. “There is no real game to play. Just a smattering of barely populated test levels.”
Scott Miller, founder of 3D Realms, also chimed in on the company’s website, reiterating that the game was very rough at this point while giving his perspective on the company’s misfortunes at the time.
Duke Nukem and the 3D Realms name are owned by The Embracer Group, with Duke specifically falling under the purview of Borderlands developer Gearbox Software. Outside of the 2011 release of DNF and a cameo in a rerelease of Bulletstorm, Gearbox has yet to fully revive Duke in the modern-day, possibly due to how out of place his purposefully over-the-top character would feel in today’s cultural landscape. As it stands, it’s unclear if and when the cigar-chomping alien killer will ever see the light of day again.