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Left 4 Dead is back as Back 4 Blood

Hey guys, Left 4 Dead is back and pretending to be some game named Back 4 Blood.

Back 4 Blood
Courtesy of Turtle Rock Studios

Zombies in video games are often taken for granted. Call of Duty Zombies, Resident Evil, House of the Dead, and so on are all perfect examples of how shooting the shambling undead is as much of a video game touchstone as spin dashing through green hill zone, stomping on goombas under a plumber’s boot, and picking up a power pellet to chase flashing blue ghosts.

But in my honest opinion, one series superbly cashed in on the zombie craze of the late 2000s but unfortunately ended up petering out due to Valve sitting on the publishing rights. This was a series which, I would argue, provided a more engaging and social form of zombie shooting action than its contemporaries and future competitors. We’re talking about Turtle Rock Studios’ Left 4 Dead which, for copyright purposes, is now Back 4 Blood.

That’s right, December 2020 closed out with Turtle Rock Studios showing off their Back 4 Blood, which they announced back in 2019. The studio put out a series of developer videos hyping how Back 4 Blood is its own thing building on the studio’s previous series published by Valve and a closed alpha which went live from December 17 to the 21 of 2020.

For legal purposes, it’s in Turtle Rock Studio’s best interest to have their cake and eat it too when it comes to developing a spiritual successor to their previous series while also selling it as a new game. But make no mistake, Back 4 Blood is a sequel to Left 4 Dead in nearly everything but name. This is probably for the best since Left 4 Dead and its sequel are still the bar to meet for co-op zombie popping action, and Valve certainly hasn’t shown any movement to continue the series.

Back 4 Blood screenshot
Image courtesy of Valve

So you might be asking: what you should expect for Back 4 Blood? To that, I would say play Left 4 Dead 2. It still holds up, you can run it on a potato PC, and it’s regularly on sale for less than $10 on steam.

Outside of the fact that you should really play Left 4 Dead 2, Turtle Rock Studios is also bringing back many of the co-op and PVP functions Left 4 Dead 2 introduced.

Two multiplayer functions I’m excited to see return in Back 4 Blood are the dynamic game director AI and good ol’ humans vs. zombies.

Back 4 Blood classes
Courtesy of Turtle Rock Studios

The director AI introduces light rogue elements to co-op, and while the AI won’t drastically change the objective of you and your buddies moving their zombie shoot guys from one safehouse to the next, it does mix up items drops and enemy placement. While I would argue that this is almost unnoticeable in the Left 4 Dead series, Turtle Rock Studios seems to be shaking things with corruption cards which are played at the beginning of the match and then introduces environmental as well as other effects.  Hopefully, these two bits of random chance will shake things up and build on what the previous series accomplished with co-op.

Back 4 Blood Magma
Courtesy of Turtle Rock Studios

But also, PVP is back, specifically zombie vs. human PVP. One of the core enemy types carried over from one series to the next are the big bad mutated zombies. While these zombified big boys serve to shake up enemy encounter in Co-Op, the mutated undead also serve as one end in the zombies vs. humans PVP where one side will play as a rogue’s gallery of zombified weirdos whose move sets include everything from leaping on human, vomiting on humans, screaming at humans, and so on.

Back 4 Blood is hitting Xbox One, Series S, Series X, PS4, PS5, and PC on June 22.

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