If you were hoping that Back 4 Blood would reignite your past Left 4 Dead feels, then you’re in luck because it absolutely will on all fronts. Turtle Rock Studios (formally known as Valve South) have heard our cries for another installment in this beloved survival zombie shooter series and Back 4 Blood (B4B) is their offering.
I spent a couple of hours playing mostly in campaign mode which consisted of myself and 3 experienced L4D players. This is worth mentioning since we all instantly felt the familiarity along with noticeable differences from previous L4D titles.
After selecting your character, the most decisive new gameplay mechanic is presented in a card deck-building system. You pick cards to suit your play style. For example, I had a card that turned my Bash attack into a knife that counts as a melee weapon.
Another gave 30% more damage when using an LMG while crouched. Once you complete an area and make it to a safe house, more cards are presented to pick from and further build your deck. This new card deck building system creates a more personalized gameplay experience which in turn makes each outing into the zombie-infested world feel fresh.
The card deck building system also introduces cards for these horrid creatures. These are called “Corruption cards”. This could be best described as a risk & reward system. You complete the selected card challenge which is applied to your next play and you’ll receive a reward. For example, one card requires you to complete the level within the time limit and without triggering any birds, snitches, car alarms, or alarmed doors to earn 500 copper. This copper can be used at a safe house to purchase items such as weapons, ammo, health kits, and other goodies.
You can see from this description that the challenge will require meticulous strategizing by your group to complete and in doing so, now changes the traditional run & gun mindset. And no we did not complete this challenge, nor did we even come close since Back 4 Blood’s gameplay is, fast-paced and keeps you frantically moving in search of cover or supplies. On that note let’s discuss the gameplay.
Back 4 Blood‘s gameplay is like eating comfort food with 2 additional deserts. The controls are familiar to those who have not only played L4D but pretty much any modern shooter. Right trigger to shoot, left to aim down your weapon sight, etc. If you are a COD player and use to doing quick re-aims to proximity targets that’s here as well.
So aim down your sight, fire off a few rounds, and quickly release/press the left trigger to auto-lock to the next zombie or as the B4B calls them “Ridden”. The majority of Ridens are not bullet sponges, so 1 or 2 headshots will easily put one down. This is the beta, so I won’t go into the story or boss battles since these are all subject to change in the final build. I will say that there’s a good variety of Riddens ranging from your slow movers, runners, spitters, and HOLY HELL WTF IS THAT!
I truly enjoyed every moment playing this beta, especially with 3 other friends. I loved everything from the doom & gloom aesthetics, team strategizing to complete level objectives, to the funny one-liners each character randomly dishes out, many of which were spot on with our at-the-moment reactions. With that said, keep an eye out for my full review when the game releases on October 12th, 2021 on XBOX Game Pass, PS5, and Steam. You also can participate in the open beta which takes place on these platforms from August 12 at Noon PST to August 16th at Noon PST.