According to its creators, Duke Nukem Forever 2013 is the Duke game “that was meant to be”.
In 2011, much to the collective dismay of gamers, Duke Nukem Forever was released after 15 years of development. The biggest disappointment wasn’t simply that DNF was a lackluster game, but that it followed Duke Nukem 3D, a fantastically designed shooter that still holds up well today. The prospect of a true DN3D sequel kept fans excited for over a decade, despite multiple unfinished development cycles. Now modders Gambini and Mikko Sandt have released their version of “the game that was meant to be”: A DN3D mod based on Forever‘s development history that also acts as a tribute to the original’s gameplay.
Duke Nukem Forever 2013 was first revealed as an April Fool’s joke on a DN3D modding site, but its creators have seen fit to make the mod available to the public. The finished project is relatively short, managing to combine elements from the finished game and its unreleased 2001 edition as a surprisingly polished campaign. Several moments from the iconic 2001 E3 trailer are represented here, including new enemy types, motorcycle-driving segments, shootouts across Las Vegas, and more.
The mod comes packaged with a modern version of the Build engine, but players still need their copy of DN3D before they can shoot aliens like it’s 1996. DNF 2013 isn’t quite as robust as a full Duke game, but there is satisfaction in playing the levels we were promised back in 2001. More impressively, the entire project took its creators roughly six months to create, a detail you can insert your own joke about in the comments.