For a brief, bright moment, if appeared as though Valve had all but confirmed the existence of Left 4 Dead 3. But, living as we do in a world of unceasing tragedy, it was all a big joke.
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If you follow the URL for the official Left 4 Dead 2 Facebook page, it takes you to a page with a header image depicting a dead hand with three fingers thrust skyward.
Left 4 Dead fans recognised the hand as the same one from the original Left 4 Dead trailer, though with one of its fingers carved off. The page even had the credence of being tied to Ted Carson, a Valve employee who worked on Left 4 Dead in the past.
It seemed like a slam-dunk - Valve seemed to be coyly breadcrumbing a follow-up to their beloved 2009 zombie co-op shooter. But it turned out, it was the work of a prankster. Twitter account SteamDB pointed out why Left 4 Dead fans should be sceptical:
Left 4 Dead 2's official page was taken down or removed, and someone has taken it over ~23 hours ago and uploaded an edited hand picture from the L4D1 trailer. The page had over a million of likes before, but now it is a personal page. pic.twitter.com/idOow8nE01
— Steam Database (@SteamDB) February 11, 2018
What appears to have happened is that the official Left 4 Dead 2 Facebook page has been taken down and someone has hijacked the URL, using it to create a hoax.
As people began to cotton onto the site's problems, the hoaxer uploaded a new image, one that is a little less believable:
Still, Left 4 Dead acolytes aren't completely without hope: in the February 8 patch notes for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, under the notes for “Canals,” there was a strange non-sequitur: “Added ashtray for smokers.”
Nobody smokes in CS:GO, but as Twitter user @joeparlock (formerly of this parish) observed, “Smokers are a thing in L4D.”
There’s hope yet for Left 4 Dead 3… just, not today.