There are quite a few attributives that can describe the Duke Nukem we all know and love that would not sit well with today’s society: aggressive, politically incorrect, hyper-masculine, who achieves great feats by the excessive use of firearms and machismo. He has been described as an amalgamation of Dirty Harry, John Wayne, and Arnold Schwarzenegger (sans the accent, of course). And his one-liners were often inspired by other classic characters from the golden age of the silver screen, like Ash from the “Evil Dead” series and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper from “They Live”, among others. What’s not to love about him?
Unfortunately, the underwhelming sequel to Duke Nukem 3D has banished him from the spotlight in 2011. His was one of the worst revivals in video game history, spending way too much time in development hell and giving fans nothing of what they were waiting for.
Perhaps this would be a great time to give the Duke another chance to shine?
The age of game revivals
Doom Eternal was one of the most anticipated games of 2020 – and it didn’t disappoint. This was the third revival of the franchise, even if the first one, called “Doom 3”, was officially a sequel but it was different enough from the original to count as a reboot. But “Doom” was just one of the many video game franchises that live a second life today – actually, there are a great many games that were rolled out (or are being rebuilt) as we speak.
In recent years, we’ve seen many classic titles return from the ashes: RTS titles like “Homeworld” and “Age of Empires” have received brand new HD upgrades, “System Shock” is getting a remake and a sequel, even the original Half-Life from the 1990s got a fan-made remake which greatly improves its visuals.
Wouldn’t this be a great time to give the Duke another round of bullets and some aliens to kick?
What are the chances?
Gearbox Software, the publisher that acquired the rights for Duke Nukem Forever in the early 2010s and fast-tracked the release of the underwhelming game, has been quite successful lately. It has several successful game franchises under its umbrella – think the successful “Borderlands” series, for example – and doesn’t shy away from rebooting old titles – the above-mentioned “Homeworld” reboot is tied to their name. Actually, they even had plans for a sort-of reboot – Gearbox, at one time, even supported a team of modders working on an Unreal Engine 3 remake of the game called “Duke Nukem 3D: Reloaded”.
Unfortunately, due to the imminent release of DNF, Gearbox couldn’t allow for the work on the remake to continue.
A few years later, Gearbox seemingly recovered from the shock caused by the fan reactions to DNF, announcing in 2015 that it has done some concept work on an upcoming Duke Nukem game. Later, in turn, the hopes of fans have gone up in smoke when a Gearbox employee told the press the company had no interest in rebooting the series.
Duke Nukem fans have received their fair share of disappointment over the years – but the last major DN release was years ago. In this day and age, filled with reboots, remakes, and revivals, perhaps it would be time for the Duke to get his encore in the spotlight. With the same one-liners and attitude, he would certainly stand out of the crowd.