The chaotic and fast-paced zombie-slaying Left 4 Dead predecessor Back 4 Blood is definitely not considered to be the “Left 4 Dead 3” that I wanted all these years. Coming from someone like myself who has put over 1k+ hours in the Left 4 Dead series, Back 4 Blood feels like an arcade version of it due to its game mechanics, buying systems, card mechanics, and constant hordes and special infected thrown at your face. By all means, that doesn’t make Back 4 Blood a “bad game” in any sense. Turtle Rock Studios does include various mechanics that were present in Left 4 Dead though which were in a way nostalgic to see. Regardless of Back 4 Blood being a Left 4 Dead successor, as its own game, while there are some things that irked me during my sessions, it proved to be an enjoyable time overall, especially with friends.
Back 4 Blood’s level layout runs the same way that almost any zombie co-op game would work. You run through a couple of stages in an act, try to make it to the “safe room” at the end, and rinse and repeat till you finish. After you complete the first four stages in act one you instantly unlock all of the characters which is good due to the fact that each character has their own unique perks and starting weapons. Perks in this game come in the form of cards that you can unlock using supply points which you can earn after completing a level. There are card trees called supply lines that you can view different cards and customization for your profile, guns, and character to determine where you want to spend your points. The cards are categorized by support, assault, strength/defence, and luck. Each card that I’ve seen has either been a must-have or a pass, but you can build your deck up however you want. The cards can give effects such as more health, turns your melee punches into quick stabs with your knife, or even being able to heal your teammates for more health. There are also mutation cards that go against your favor at the start of each level as well. For example, one mutation could be that it’s extremely foggy or special infected are harder to take down. Personally, I think the card system is a great addition to the game as it gives variety to your experience and adds to that arcade-like gameplay.
At the start of matches, you begin in a safe room where there’s a shop where you can buy items such as weapons, meds, grenades and such by using coins. Coins are the currency that you find throughout the map in cars, on the ground, or in buildings. One of the notable features as well is that before you buy weapons or attachments you can view the stats of them to see how they affect your weapon and its rarity.
The special infected fairly resemble the ones that you may or may not have seen throughout the Left 4 Dead series. The reekers resemble the spitter as they spit acid on you, bruisers to the chargers since they can grab you and bash you like crazy with their humongous arm, and the hag which acts as a jockey when they hop on your head and drag you away. My biggest complaint about the zombie AI is their spawn rate. At max, I have seen about four different special infected come at me all at once and can be extremely overwhelming no matter what difficulty you play on, especially since it takes a lot to take them down. The AI teammates also feel useless at times as I found them to spaz out and teleport most of the time and are only good for healing you and dropping ammo. Damage wise you’ll really have to rely on yourself if you choose to play solo, which I don’t recommend.
Playing with friends is definitely the way to go. With them, I’m able to at least have fun and scream my head off when two bruisers and two reekers come at us at the same time as a horde runs in. Plus with friends, you can also reap the rewards of their perk cards as well which is a great advantage. There are solo decks you can use if you wanna run the game solo but it just doesn’t feel the same as playing with others. There is also a PVP mode called “Swarm” where it’s basically survival but with challenges. The one survival team that does better than the other wins. Personally, I think it’s a miss as I would’ve like to see PVP in the campaign portion.
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While Back 4 Blood and Left 4 Dead may have their similarities, to call them the exact same is ludicrous. What Turtle Rock Studios did was create a new game with new systems, mechanics, and a different flow of gameplay. Back 4 Blood may resemble Left 4 Dead, but on its own, it was able to capture a fun and exciting zombie-killing environment that can be had with friends for months to come.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox Series X/S. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.