Watch a trailer for Gearbox's canceled Duke Nukem prequel

During some of the many years in which a follow-up to Duke Nukem 3D was in development hell, a prequel called Duke Nukem Begins was worked on at Gearbox—an origin story detailing what I'm sure would have been a rich backstory for the character. A studio called Janimation were hired to make a cinematic demonstrating Duke Nukem Begins in 2008, before the game was put on hold and finally canceled thanks to a legal dispute over the character.

The video was directed by Gregor Punchatz, who also worked as a modeler on the original Doom games and Rise of the Triad. Punchatz previously leaked some of this footage in 2019 and has decided to upload it now in full, "Because it is still a piece I am damn proud of,  I am releasing it 13 years after its creation. The whole team that worked with me deserves to see this released into the wild. I hope this somehow resurrects this version of the game by showing the world how awesome it would have been…" 

This mock-up shows Duke Nukem Begins as a third-person shooter with four-player co-op in which Duke dual-wields pistols and shotguns as well as using a pig's arm as a melee weapon. He also has some of Duke 3D's memorable weapons, the shrinker and freezethrower, but it's kind of odd to see Duke in third-person. I guess the series started as a 2D platformer, so there wouldn't be any reason to keep it an FPS, and it would have been hard for it to come out worse than Duke Nukem Forever eventually did.

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.