Modders are reviving the original Duke Nukem Forever, and the "first slice" is out this week

Duke Nukem Forever 2001 Restoration Project
(Image credit: 3D Realms/Gearbox/DNF 2001 Restoration Project)

A leaked build of the original Duke Nukem Forever is being turned into a real, full game by modders, and the "first slice" of the project is due out this week.

The Duke Nukem Forever 2001 Restoration Project just released a trailer for its "first slice", which is set to be released on December 21 with the game's opening levels. The end goal of the project is to take the levels and content from the game's leaked builds, stitch them together with new material and additional story elements, and turn it into the full game that might've been released in the early 2000s.

This trailer could pass for any good, modern boomer shooter in the vein of Dusk or Amid Evil - even that glass-breaking tech is still fairly impressive these days. Of course, Duke Nukem's brand of machismo was already in bad taste back in the '90s, and you're going to need to decide for yourself whether you've got the stomach for such sterling bits of humor as, uh, a visit to the 'Slick Willy' strip club.

The real value in this project is more in its satisfaction of historical curiosity. While its 14-year dev history has since been eclipsed by Beyond Good & Evil 2, Duke Nukem Forever remains forever cemented as gaming's most infamous example of development hell. The original version of the game was in development at 3D Realms, but work stalled as the scope of the project continued to balloon without a clear idea of what the final game would look like. The Duke Nukem Forever we actually got in 2011 was made by Borderlands studio Gearbox, and while it carries over some elements from the original version, it's basically an all-new game.

The 3D Realms version of DNF existed mostly in fan's memories of old trailers and magazine write-ups, until earlier this year when a 2001 development build made its way onto the internet. It's very playable, but very unfinished, which is why something like the Restoration Project mod could be so valuable.

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Dustin Bailey
Staff Writer

Dustin Bailey joined the GamesRadar team as a Staff Writer in May 2022, and is currently based in Missouri. He's been covering games (with occasional dalliances in the worlds of anime and pro wrestling) since 2015, first as a freelancer, then as a news writer at PCGamesN for nearly five years. His love for games was sparked somewhere between Metal Gear Solid 2 and Knights of the Old Republic, and these days you can usually find him splitting his entertainment time between retro gaming, the latest big action-adventure title, or a long haul in American Truck Simulator.