Still pretty much an L4D sequel... but that's not necessarily a good thing
Additional features are not necessarily liked
Still pretty much an L4D sequel... but that's not necessarily a bad thing
So, for those who’re completely oblivious to the behind-the-scenes development of Back 4 Blood (y’know, like me), here’s a mind-bending factoid: Back 4 Blood is not a sequel to Left 4 Dead (L4D). Well, not officially anyway.
Developed by the same team that brought us the original L4D, Back 4 Blood is a significantly expanded experience that reaches beyond the simple first-person shooter model of its spiritual predecessors—as to whether that’s a good or bad thing, that would depend on what players are looking for in a game of this theme.
Right out of the gate (or safe house), Back 4 Blood makes it clear that being familiar doesn’t necessarily mean it’s treading the same grounds. Gameplay can now be influenced by a card system that affects stats as well as events that occur throughout missions.
Players can select which cards to put in play prior to each mission, or alter their decks at their base camp. Unfortunately, nothing can be just to the player’s advantage, so not only do most of these cards also have a con to their pro but the game’s AI, known as The Director, is also assigned Corruption cards.
These features definitely contribute towards making the game increasingly replayable and increase the challenge for players coming in expecting the game to essentially be L4D3.
That said, the developers over at Turtle Rock Studios have included a “classic” mode that removes these extra features. And while I played the standard version with the cards to best get an idea of this new game, the option of this “classic” mode is a smart one which removes any possible issues that L4D fans may have had with this game.
Aside from both similar and updated gameplay, Back 4 Blood (can we just get to calling it B4B?) also moves the thematic plot of the L4D series. Where the “franchise” has been about a crew of survivors seeking extraction as they dart from safe house to safe house, B4B moves towards the playable characters being veterans, part of a group called Cleaners, who are now locating and establishing “safe spaces” for other survivors.
Multiplayer options also retain the classic 4-player model allowing you and your friends/faceless strangers on the internet to each assume the role of a survivor and battle your way through the Ridden, as the zombies are referred to here. A PvP mode allowing up to 8 players is also available, with four of you controlling the above mentioned Ridden.
B4B also takes things towards a more sci-fi edge with the origin of the zombification being extraterrestrial in origin. Much like L4D, the zombies exist as both the usual mobs, and specially evolved infected. There are some familiar analogues, but most offer a new cool (and gruesome) spin on things. If anything, B4B has successfully upped the gore factor.
It’s a little odd how much of overlap exists between this game and the L4D series given the departure from the branding and license (L4D is owned by Valve). That said, this certainly fills a void that Left 4 Dead fans must have certainly felt since the last game’s release 12 years ago!
The time between this and L4D2 has obviously worked towards B4B’s advantage in some ways—graphics being the main one. With graphics at the edge of development, even the gameplay graphics have taken a leap forward.
Of course, having played it on a PC I cannot speak for all platform experiences, but the film-quality graphics should be a pleasure on just about any screen.
While much of B4B’s commendation could be for how it truly tries its best to not be another first-person zombie shooter, the truth is that’s still really what it is. And that’s not really a bad thing by any means.
After all, players looking for something new are certainly catered to, and those clamouring for a Left 4 Dead 3 can easily opt to play the classic mode of Back 4 Blood.
In all, it’s an entertaining and functional game, as both a spiritual sequel and the possible beginning of a new franchise.