The 2001 Unreal Engine version of Duke Nukem Forever was 90% complete, had RPG and horror elements

Duke Nukem Forever was a huge disappointment for a lot of Duke Nukem fans. However, there was a version that impressed everyone back in 2001. That version of Duke Nukem Forever was powered by Unreal Engine and was meant to be a more serious/dark game. And according to Frederik Schreiber, VP at 3DRealms, that version is 90% complete.

As Frederik Schreiber claimed, this 2001 version packs 14-16 hours of gameplay and it played partly as an RPG in terms of goals. Players basically had Mission Objectives on their HUD and they could activate them, like quests. Furthermore, you also had an inventory with ID badges, keycards, etc.

In Duke Nukem Forever 2001, players meet and save NPCs, solve puzzles, and try and solve the mystery of what’s going on. Then they meet the infected EDF who’s attacking them and the story evolves from there.

Schreiber re-confirmed how dark that version was – at least for 2001 standards. There are scenes with lights going out, flickering in the distance, monster closets, screams in the distance. The game is also said to be very cinematic with rain for the most part and lightning strikes in the distance.

The game also offered players a bike, thus turning at that point into a semi open-world/hub title.

  • The bike is probably the most impressive. !z2_l1 you get the bike and the game turns half open world/Hub style
  • So you can drive out of vegas, and you get a loading screen.
  • Different parts of vegas also have loading screens in between. But you get these missions from NPCs and then solve them (a bit like deus ex)
  • Oh.. there’s also a subway in vegas you can take to visit different districts in the city.

Duke Nukem Forever 2001 featured 25-ish levels in single-player and 12 levels in multiplayer (with most of them pretty much done).

In order to prove his claims, Schreiber released the following screenshot of the directory of one of the builds.

According to Schreiber, the new renderer that 3D Realms implemented in 2002 resulted in ‘all the levels turning black and textures having to be recreated with normal maps.’ Those Unreal Engine levels were created with static lighting in mind and everything simply fell apart. As such, 3D Realms decided to scrap its previous work – once again as it did the very same thing with the Quake 2 version of Duke Nukem Forever – and start from the beginning.

Now what’s interesting here is that 3D Realms would like to release this 2001 version of Duke Nukem Forever, however, it appears that this may never happen due to licensing issues. Currently, Gearbox owns the rights of the Duke Nukem IP and in a Twitter exchange with Randy Pitchford back in April 2017, the CEO of Gearbox claimed that they could offer a license to 3D Realms, however, nothing has happened since then.

What’s really baffling here is that Devolver Digital did release for free some older alpha and beta versions of the classic Shadow Warrior that were sent to them by 3D Realms. Apparently, 3D Realms is not willing to pay for a license for Duke Nukem Forever or it simply cannot secure funds so it can finish it?

Schreiber also claimed that he has 6 builds of Prey from 1995 to 1998, though – and contrary to Shadow Warrior – these builds have never seen the light of day.

Kudos to our reader ‘James Fowler’ for providing us the information.