Ever since Duke Nukem made his appearance in the early 1990s, the character and the video games he has appeared in have captivated fans. This is why classics like Duke Nukem II are getting a second chance at shining on new platforms, while new editions keep coming up, like the recent Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour. Now, it seems that the good people at Gearbox have done it again by bringing our hero to Bulletstorm this summer. With so much hype surrounding the character, could we perhaps see a brand new Duke Nukem game soom?
The Duke Invades Bulletstorm
Gearbox is known for its great selection of games – and in our opinion the fact that they hold the IP for Duke Nukem alone makes them rank high across video game developers. They know they have a great fanbase to work with, which is why they kept throwing teasers at us about the hero making a surprise return this year. Up until they announced in Pax 2019 that he would be a playable character in the new Bulletstorm: Duke of Switch Edition, which is essentially a dedicated Nintendo Switch version of the previous instalment, Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition. But up until that revelation, there was much speculation that we would see a standalone Duke Nukem title.
“Time to tease another game for PAX!” pic.twitter.com/iSe5PTBwMi
— Gearbox Official (@GearboxOfficial) 18 March 2019
Duke is certainly a character that has aged well. Once the king of 2D platform games, he then expanded to the first-person shooter with ease and made waves after the release of the first Duke Nukem game on Steam. And with the gaming market growing exponentially, he could be making a big comeback. The gaming industry is set to top $128 billion by 2020, while eSports revenue is set to reach over $1.6 billion in 2021. There are an estimated 2 billion gamers in the world, with 50% of them based in Asia-Pacific – and the numbers just keep climbing year after year. In this landscape, revisiting classic and beloved heroes and rebranding them to introduce them to a new, younger audience is a safe bet – especially when it comes to Duke. Bulletstorm: Duke of Switch Edition was a nice touch on a beloved franchise that still holds one of the best single-player campaigns and a great cooperative multiplayer mode – but is this really the best that the Duke Nukem franchise can offer?
Could Developers Reimagine the Franchise?
The issue is how to reinvent Duke Nukem in an era full of great FPS titles. There is heavy competition in the field, with games like Destiny or Doom attracting many of the genre’s enthusiasts. But perhaps the franchise could approach FPS in a different way. eSports are on the rise – their popularity is soaring and even the betting industry has noticed, offering the option to place wagers on major eSports tournaments like Dota 2 and Hearthstone. Duke Nukem could very easily be turned into an old-school eSports tournament, with players competing in different retro editions of the series alongside more recent instalments. Or, the character could really shine in a different genre. Battle royale games like Fortnite developed by Epic Games have experienced massive growth over the last year.
Duke Nukem with its honorable tradition of blowing up stuff and murdering aliens could very easily be reimagined as a battle royale game – where Duke is perhaps just one of the playable characters. Another great way to go would be to develop an RPG based on Duke. After all, the guy is one of the most beloved and recognizable characters precisely because of his crystal-clear backstory. Everyone knows who Duke is – the politically incorrect buffy lad with more guns at his disposal than you could ever dream of and his signature cigar-smoking, bubblegum-chewing attitude. A proper background story is long overdue, as fans are eager to learn more about the hero with the legendary one-liners. So eager in fact, that an RPG that would tie together the franchise’s different game stories with action-packed campaigns would be very well received. Let’s not forget that Duke was first added to the Bulletstorm franchise in its remastered version back in April 2017 – and now, two years later, he has found his way into a special edition of the game. So, who is to say whether this couldn’t simply be a teaser for the next plans that the developers at Gearbox are onto?
Whatever the outcome, it would be nice to see Duke Nukem rebranded in a different way. Our personal favourite option? To give the rising eSports world a Duke treatment – and allow both seasoned players and newbies to get immersed in his world.