Canceled Duke Nukem 3D remake is the latest Duke project to leak

Menu screen from a leaked build of the Duke Nukem 3D remake
(Image credit: Interceptor Entertainment)

In 2010 it was announced that Interceptor Entertainment was working on a remake of Duke Nukem 3D, the classic game of shooting, booting, and polluting children's minds. What had begun as a fan project to bring it into the then-modern Unreal Engine 3 was given Gearbox's blessing and renamed from Duke Nukem: Next Gen to Duke Nukem 3D: Reloaded.

A year later, the Duke remake was put "on hold". The project's lead, Frederik Schreiber, wrote in a blog post that Gearbox's product manager and legal counsel had told him the remake was "getting too much attention from the press and the fans" and that "We were required to pull all media related to Reloaded, from our website and Facebook. We were also told, not to talk about it anymore."

At the time, Duke Nukem Forever had been released to what could generously be called a mixed reception. Gearbox was focusing on DLC in an attempt to rehabilitate the unloved game. When Schreiber asked whether Duke Nukem 3D: Reloaded would still have Gearbox's blessing to be published at a later date, he claimed he was told, "we can't tell you if we will allow the game to be released."

Schreiber and his team cut their losses and moved on. Duke Nukem 3D: Reloaded was largely forgotten, until the group called x0r_jmp, who previously leaked an E3 build of Duke Nukem Forever from 2001, put a build from September of 2011 up on anonfiles on December 31. It's labeled "test-version 0.001" and includes a handful of maps, like Hollywood Holocaust, and you can try some extremely Unreal Tournament-esque multiplayer with bots.

One of the best things about Duke Nukem 3D was exploring levels full of secrets and interactivity, and seeing that city skyline and cinema made shiny and new is a delight. But if you really want to replay the classic FPS now but with some graphical updates and modernization, thanks to modders you can. Here's our guide to the best way to play Duke Nukem 3D today.

As well as the leaks relating to Duke's more famous outings, x0r_jmp was responsible for a leak of canceled 2D platformer Duke Nukem 4Ever, which you can play in your browser at the Internet Archive, a downloadable prototype of a big-game hunting shooter called Duke Nukem: Endangered Species, and a pitch for a Duke Nukem movie. Apparently we haven't heard the last of them, as the group says, "We have several new releases lined up for 2023, so watch this space for updates!"

As for the team who worked on Duke Nukem 3D: Reloaded, they eventually had a happy ending. As Interceptor Entertainment they developed a 2013 remake of Rise of the Triad that helped inspire the retro shooter renaissance, then renamed themselves Slipgate Ironworks and went on to co-develop Ghostrunner. Currently they're working on Phantom Fury, the sequel to Ion Fury. Frederik Schreiber, who kicked off the Duke Nukem remake, became CEO of 3D Realms.

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, Five Out of Ten Magazine, and, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.