Considering the mark that Left 4 Dead 2 left on the gaming industry, it's hard to imagine that the game hasn't seen a sequel or major title update, free or paid, since 2012. However, the recent launch of The Last Stand DLC campaign has effectively ended the near decade of silence from the series, bringing a fan-made map and a number of new weapons and customizations to the 11 year old game.

This came as a major surprise to most fans, not only because Left 4 Dead 2 is such an old title at this point, but also due to Valve's increased investment in running its PC gaming platform, Steam. A recent push from the developer towards new content related to some of its best selling franchises, such as Half-Life and Left 4 Dead, may be indicating that a third game could finally be on its way out. At least to the extent that Valve is open to letting others, the community here, work on its games.

Valve Is An Active Developer Again

The development of The Last Stand itself was primarily community run, with only limited technical support coming from Valve itself, even though the company has given the project its blessing as an official release. However, that isn't to say that Valve isn't actively developing games anymore as some fans have believed, thanks in part to a lack of substantial titles releasing among the developers best franchises. While the new Left 4 Dead update isn't exactly an example of the original developers continued work on its own, similar releases like Half-Life: Alyx have proven that the studio is active.

Given what Half-Life: Alyx did for VR sales, there is clearly a massive market out there for Valve to continue to develop more games from its existing IP, like Left 4 Dead. Now that The Last Stand has released and Half-Life: Alyx is deep enough into its life cycle for the initial spree of patches and fixes to be mostly taken care of, there's been little information about what the developer is looking to do. As far as the future plans from the company are concerned, all fans really know about at this point are a handful of leaks and reveals that have exposed the canceled state of certain high-profile titles.

Asymmetric Games Are Huge Right Now

It's strange to consider Left 4 Dead within the same genre as titles like Evolve and Dead by Daylight, but these newer asymmetric games all harken back to Valves release that brought this style into the mainstream. Since the early 2000s when this multiplayer style of game first became popular, the genre has heavily evolved, generally swapping out the easily killed zombie fodder out for different tasks and challenges players are forced to complete. With many of these game types diving into the horror genre to best capture the power difference between players on each side of the conflict, enemies like Tanks and Smokers have been swapped out recently for Dead by Daylight's Killers.

On the other end of the spectrum, some games have decided to lean more heavily into the mechanics from Left 4 Dead, like Warhammer: Vermintide and its sequel. However, even though some of these games are huge, like Among Us' recent popularity surge, the market is far from oversaturated, with clones and look-alikes less prevalent than other genres. On top of the massive popularity of these types of games, most companies currently dominating the field are more often indie developers, none of which have the access to funds that a studio like Valve has access too.

Last Stand Shows Where Left 4 Dead 3 Can Go

The most important thing that The Last Stand could have done for Left 4 Dead 3 is show Valve how much further the series can go beyond what had already been accomplished with the first two games. Looking at everything new arriving with The Last Stand, this DLC pack is way more than a single campaign or a texture pack like most of the smaller mods that have released for Left 4 Dead 2. New weapons, returning models and characters, and dozens of bug fixes have almost completely remade the game from the ground up to make every campaign feel new, not just the newly added one.

Beyond what's been added to the 11 year old game, the gaming industry has moved considerably forward since Left 4 Dead 2 first went dormant. Over two console generations later, some of the original thoughts for where to take the series may finally be available, thanks to technological advancements in both hardware and software within the industry. Breaking conventions like having two Tanks appear at the same time or adding dozens of new melee weapons is the tip of the iceberg when looking at what Valve can do if the company puts its resources to the task.

Left 4 Dead 3 Was Being Developed At One Point

This could simultaneously be the best evidence for a sequel coming in the future, or the strongest suggestion in the other direction, but Left 4 Dead 3 was in development before being canceled. The game never made its way out of the early planning stages, but at the very least there was a team at the helm of development, and Valve had seen enough potential to initially greenlight the project. With the recent surge in players that The Last Stand has brought to Left 4 Dead 2, it wouldn't be out of the question for the developer to see continuing the series as a viable option again.

Between this new uptick in activity and Next-Gen consoles pushing the game's potential, the Days Gone style, open-world Left 4 Dead 3 that fans have been teased with recently, could finally be on its way. It will likely be some time before players get a look at this game, and it may be a while before Valve even begins development, but with the foundation already laid out, it could be sooner than players think.

It's entirely possible that Left 4 Dead 3 may still never come, just like it's possible that Half-Life: Alyx may not be the indication of a Half-Life 3 fans have been hoping for. Fortunately, fans still have Left 4 Dead 2 community campaigns to dive into if they're itching for new content, a desire that The Last Stand has clearly shown there is a real market for.

Left 4 Dead 3 is currently not in active development.