Left 4 Dead 2 "The Cabin in the Woods" (lost build of cancelled movie tie-in DLC campaign for first-person horror shooter sequel; 2009-2010)
Left 4 Dead 2 is a survival horror shooter developed and released by Valve Software in 2009, the sequel to 2008’s Left 4 Dead, developed by Turtle Rock Studios. Set in a zombie apocalypse, the players control one of four survivors (Nick, Ellis, Coach and Rochelle) either in single-player or in online co-op, who must fight hordes of zombies in order to survive throughout five campaigns. Despite being the subject of multiple controversies prior to its release, the game was a critical and commercial success, selling over 11 million copies on all platforms by August 2011.
The game’s popularity led to the creation of downloadable content, which includes two new campaigns made by Valve, "The Passing" and "The Sacrifice", both released in 2010, as well as two community-made campaigns released under Valve’s blessing, "Cold Stream", released in 2012, and "The Last Stand", released in 2020. However, a third campaign developed by Valve was in the works, which was meant to be a tie-in for the 2012 horror movie The Cabin in the Woods. Due to the movie’s delays and financial struggles, the tie-in campaign ended up being scrapped.
The Cabin in the Woods is a horror comedy movie directed by Drew Goddard and written by Joss Whedon and Goddard, which satirizes the horror genre by telling the story of a group of college students that hide in the titular cabin to escape a zombie outbreak, only to find out that the cabin is ran by a facility which experiments with several horror movie monsters and tropes as if the building was a movie set. Production of Cabin in the Woods began in March 2009 and ended in May of that year.
Left 4 Dead 2 was first revealed at E3 2009 during Microsoft’s conference. The game’s announcement became the subject of criticism after a group of Left 4 Dead players began a boycott campaign against the sequel, claiming that it would alienate the Left 4 Dead community due to the lack of updates on the first game. By October 2009 the boycott ended after Valve announced that Left 4 Dead would continue to get additional content and updates after the release of its sequel in November of that year.
According to Chet Faliszek, Left 4 Dead 2's writer, both Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard approached Valve after playing the game and presented the idea of building a campaign based on the movie and its premise. Goddard stated on a Reddit AMA that the players would be able to step into the cabin and even walk around the facility and fight the monsters that appear in the movie.
"(...) the game was gonna be amazing. You were gonna be able to play in both the upstairs "Cabin in the Woods" world and the downstairs "facility" world with all the monsters. Believe me, I HATE all video games based on movies, they always suck, but porting Cabin into Left For Dead felt like the right fit. It pains me that it didn't happen."
Cancellation and Aftermath
The Cabin in the Woods was originally planned to be distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, set for a February 5th, 2010 release, but the movie was delayed by a full year due to plans in converting the movie to 3D, alongside MGM’s ongoing financial struggles. However, on June 17th, MGM announced that the movie was delayed indefinitely, once again, as a result of the studio’s debts, which led to its Chapter 11 bankruptcy on November 3rd, 2010. With the movie indefinitely shelved, Valve quietly cancelled the Left 4 Dead 2 campaign.
After emerging from bankruptcy, MGM announced in March 2011 that it was going to sell the movie to another studio. Lionsgate ended up getting the rights to the movie, which was then finally released on April 13th, 2012 to positive reviews. Despite the cancellation of The Cabin in the Woods DLC, the infected from the Left 4 Dead games ended up making a cameo appearance in the movie, during the climatic elevator scene. This easter egg became a major topic of conversation in Drew Goddard’s Reddit AMA, held later that year, where the director confirmed the existence of the DLC. Apart from the campaign’s premise, no footage from the campaign nor any assets have surfaced to date.
Valve would go on to make more movie and television tie-in content for their games, most notably the interactive trailer to J. J. Abrams’ 2011 movie Super 8 included in Portal 2, as well as cosmetic items based on Adult Swim shows for Team Fortress 2.
- Article from The Escapist about the NO-L4D2 Steam group. Retrieved 10 Oct '20
- IGN article about the end of Left 4 Dead 2's boycott campaign. Retrieved 10 Oct '20
- Drew Goddard's post where he describes the campaign. Retrieved 10 Oct '20
- Drew Goddard's Reddit post where he talks about the Left 4 Dead 2 campaign. Retrieved 10 Oct '20
- Imgur gallery which shows screencaps of the infected's cameos in The Cabin in the Woods. Retrieved 10 Oct '20