Back 4 Blood has hit the ground running!
Since B4B’s release on Steam, Xbox Game Pass, PS4 and Xbox on the 12th of October, the reception for this spiritual successor to Left 4 Dead has been way past positive. Twelve years of waiting caused gamers all over the world to develop quite a bloodthirsty appetite.
Without question, this game encapsulates everything L4D fans were waiting for. For years, Left 4 Dead and L4D2 kept gamers busy bursting boomers, slapping spitters and whacking witches. At the same time, massive community mod support opened for the game, further increasing the replay value. These mods included everything, from replacing infected with stormtroopers and flashlights that cast Nicolas Cage’s face. Not to mention complete texture overhauls for every graphical element of the game! However, as we all know, time is a cruel mistress, and eventually, the player base converted to other games to fill the void left behind by the absence of a new title.
But now, they’ve all come running back! The release of Back 4 Blood has thrown out a line and pulled in hardened veterans and newcomers alike from every possible avenue. The almost gravitational reach of this game drew players from far and wide, hungry for zombie battle within moments of release.
So, is Back4Blood any good?
Short answer: It’s still got it! The 12 years (nearly 13) spent dreaming up the release by Turtle Rock Studios between Left 4 Dead 2 and Back 4 Blood releases were not wasted. When playing Back 4 Blood, the feeling you get gives you an immediate throwback to the endless hours spent slaying on the original L4D games. The gunplay, character movement and interaction, variety of enemies, and immense amounts of gore are a sight for incredibly sore eyes.
It’s all-new! But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have the same feel. The overall flow of the game still haunts back to the originals. The enemies still go from 0-100 ludicrously fast, and a relatively stress-free run can still quite quickly turn very sour indeed. Turtle Rocks transition from the Source engine over to Unreal Engine 4 has allowed the game to receive a complete graphical overhaul, along with a complete rework of how the game runs—bringing the decade-old cult classic into 2021, leaving its competitors in its wake.
What is the campaign like in Back 4 Blood?
Spanning 32 levels across four “Acts” with eight characters to choose from, each with their intrinsic traits, the game’s campaign mode is nearly impossible to play for a short period of time! The sometimes heart-wrenching onslaughts in-between the many safe rooms on your journey to salvation make it all too easy to give it the old “Just one more level”. This refreshing new take on the ever-popular co-op zombie shooter was more than necessary in the current climate, as the “game drought” was becoming a touch too hard to bare! Luckily, amid a sea of near-endless “Looter-Shooters”, Back 4 Blood stands out by combining upgradeable and purchasable equipment with the age-old horde-chopping charm.
To summarise, it’s INCREDIBLE.
What are the cards in B4B, and what do they do?
The introduction of the new card system allows you to progressively build your campaign around the kind of gameplay you like! ‘Corruption cards’ with varying types are applied at the beginning of each level. These corruption cards apply changes to the game on either a massive or minute level. One may introduce the Ferocious Ridden, which are faster, less susceptible to body damage and deal increased damage.
Another may introduce a thick fog to the game world, which will see you struggling for vision whilst simultaneously fighting off an onslaught of enemies which seemingly poof into existence through the fog! As you can imagine, these corruption cards can introduce some natural game-changing variation to your run, however, fear not, as corruption cards are not the only new cards!
At the beginning of levels, Survivors are provided with a choice of cards as well!
Survivor cards, you say?
Yes! The survivor cards progressively build your loadout in preparation for the imminent slaughter! If you want to sprint in, all-guns-blazing, cutting down Ridden left and right with an almost endless LMG magazine and a cheeky little Beretta on the hip, then you can, and I’d recommend it.
If you’re a pyromancer in your spare time with a penchant for fireballs, then the possibility is there. If, for some reason, you decide to hack and slash your way through swarms with a fire axe or machete, then go ahead! The introduction of the card system has combined the old and new so that it’s entirely possible to lose yourself for hours without even realising!
Survive the Swarm mode.
First, the fans of L4D and L4D2 were distraught by the lack of the original Versus, but they were then introduced to Back 4 Blood Swarm Mode. In a nut-shell, Swarm mode is a variation on versus but with unique characteristics. Imagine Gears of War horde mode meets Binding of Isaac and your generic BR “stay inside the ring or die,” and together they create this beautiful throuple lovechild.
Back 4 Blood Swarm Mode entails a team of 4 player-controlled Cleaners against a group of 4 player-controlled Ridden, fighting for weapon upgrades and utilities that are peppered over the map whilst battling off hordes of infection spreading baddies. All the while, there’s a ring filled with millions of flesh-eating death bugs bearing down on you (Trust me, you do not want to get stuck in it.)
The intrinsic traits found on the cleaners play a large part in the outcome of a game of ‘Swarm’, as the weapons and utility items found are more common but with minor variation compared with those in the campaign. The abilities of the player-controlled Ridden, with the correct team composition, are just as strong as a well-built team of Ridden in campaign mode, rendering all the Cleaners traits useless in a short amount of time.
For example, suppose you choose a Cleaner who favours melee damage. In that case, your cleaner comes face to face with a Tallboy Bruiser (who can boop them with their nightmare fueled big red arm of death, then quickly turn them into a finely squashed paste), the outcome is relatively self-explanatory.
Is the card system still applicable in Swarm mode, and what are Mutations?
The card elements found in the campaign are also present in Swarm mode. In the form of premade decks, you create over time by purchasing cards with points gained through playing the game. These cards offer very similar buffs and debuffs to players, with very few campaign-specific cards not included.
The most significant variation of difficulty in Swarm mode comes from “Mutations”.
Mutations purchased by the Ridden team throughout the game and can offer increases to player damage, speed and even bumps in the size of the AI horde. The biggest selling point of these mutations is that the entire team shares all purchased upgrades. For example, if you were to buy an upgrade for the reeker class, any player who chooses it will benefit!
Overall, Back 4 Blood is a hell of a game.
It takes more than the last decade of what we have loved and improves upon the already proven recipe. It offers hours of co-op fun and mischief with your friends and endless variety in each run.
When Turtle Rock first announced the game, I let out a cry of genuine joy at the thought of going back to what had kept me entertained for hours on hours in the ten years before its release, and I can wholeheartedly say that the wait was more than worth it.
Thank you, Turtle Rock, Warner Bros, and finally, thank you, Back 4 Blood. For the nostalgia, for the heart-racing worry and finally, for the ability to throw propane tanks at people, shoot them in mid-air and make my friends gameplay substantially more difficult.
It turns out you really can teach an old dog new tricks.