I started to believe that Gabe Newell really had a personal rivalry with the number three when Valve became the subject of speech. Come on, we’ve accepted that Half-Life 3 isn’t coming now (What a lie! I crave more Half-Life games because of Alyx!), but it’s a strange choice that Left 4 Dead lay fallow after two games in a row. Moreover, over the years, “This time is coming, I swear they are doing it! Let the Charger hit the wall if I’m lying!” There were tons of rumors, but we never saw a concrete L4D3. On the other hand, Turtle Rock, the original manufacturer of the L4D series, and I think he parted ways with Valve, probably because of an L4D3-related unpleasantness, continues to cling to this formula persistently. Evolve, which they tried as soon as they started to stand on their own feet, was actually a game pregnant with interesting ideas, but the stumbling blocks in the parts where it tried to be different soon brought its end. This inevitably leads us to the question “I wonder if the magic was in Valve’s touch?” prompted him to ask the question. Well, let’s see if there is a trace of that magic touch in the beta of Back 4 Blood, which we can call Turtle Rock’s return to the roots and the unofficial sequel to L4D?
Not in name but in substance…
Back 4 Blood is a game that builds its foundations almost entirely on Left 4 Dead. It is possible to find something familiar from Left 4 Dead in almost every moment, from the animations of bandaging the characters to the way they allow them to clean their surroundings by using their secondary weapons when they fall to the ground, the fact that the sections are separated by Safe Rooms, the Director artificial intelligence makes the game dynamically difficult and easier compared to what you do while playing. Naturally, as I said, these are the similarities at the core of the game. When the manufacturer is exactly the same, he frowned and said, “Oh, they’re officially copy/paste!” there is nothing to say. Moreover, they did not shy away from making relatively modern touches and differences in the remaining areas.
For example, as we are used to from Left 4 Dead again, we have a party of 4 characters; However, this time, as in Evolve, there are more than four characters that we can play and we can choose between them.
Although each of these characters is played in great precedent, some of them are ahead of others in some bets. For example, Evangelo has a feature to evade the grip of enemies that can catch him every 60 seconds. While playing as Evangelo, you can go solo and get away from the group in a more comfortable form. Or, for example, Holly gains 10 stamina for every zombie she kills—sorry, “Ridden”. Stamina is now valuable because you can no longer sprint into the wind for such an unlimited amount of time. If you don’t act carefully, things like punching the zombies coming to your base and sprinting will suddenly run out of air in your lungs. And when the bonuses that each character brings to the group are added, things get more strategic for those willing to push the high difficulty levels nicely. (If you are not a well-coordinated squad, you can easily bring up the high difficulty levels.) In addition, the combat mechanics have become a bit more complicated and realistic than in L4D. While every M4 you found before was the same, here the weapons vary according to their quality and the mods on them. While the M4 Carbine you found once was of the lowest quality and could swipe enough to scan the night sky when you pulled the trigger, another M4 you found is much more stable and even comes with a binocular that can pick out the three strands of hair left on Ridden’s head from leagues away. This pushes you to prowl the maps, whose small details are always changing, and to pay attention to your surroundings.
Can the Dirty Sevens be played with this deck?
Maps aren’t the only thing that changes every time and plays with your expectations. There is also the issue of “deck” mechanics. The game’s artificial intelligence named Director draws “Corruption” cards, which vary according to the difficulty in each part. These randomly determined cards usually make the various difficulties in the section more difficult for you, but if you can follow certain rules, you can also turn the disadvantage into a reward. (For example, if you finish the level without scaring the birds and not triggering the Ridden horde, you can win 200 copper rewards.) There are also “Active Cards” opened by each player per level, which are usually cards that change the way your character is played and highlight your obvious features. There are all kinds of cards, from increasing your ammo capacity to cards that allow you to use a blade that does more damage when you press the standard punch button. In the middle, you can find or buy some cards that affect the whole set.
While we’ve mentioned the Riddens, let’s get into the details of them too. The basic logic comes from L4D, as you can guess, but the manufacturers have used it to their advantage from time to time. For example, when a burly Ridden with this kind of zebellah rushes at you, “Something like the Moon Tank, I guess that’s it?!” you start counting, but when your friend who took two or three bullets explodes on your floor, your head is covered with acid and you say to yourself, “Oh, it’s Boomer …”. Deer aside, although there are different Riddens with new features in the middle, it’s more of a combination of the features of multiple old special zombies in different combinations. Like L4D’s Hunters, the Hockers can cling to the walls and move very quickly and agile, but like the Smokers, they can pin you where you are at the same time. Or it is obvious that the ancestor of the Bruisers is the Charger; because when he grabs you, he starts hitting the ground, bam bam. But overall the most valuable thing all these special Riddens have in common: You have to hit their weak spots that glow red. Otherwise, the Bruisers, especially those who snatched and smashed your bandmate, would not die. I also encountered Ogre, which I thought was a variation of the classic “Tank”, during the Beta. Indeed, it was a match that did not look like a tank for me. I am badly afraid to see the Witch variant in its full version.
To sum it up a little, what I saw in the beta was not sad at all. Especially finding 3 more friends and always diving into the middle of the Riddens together is quite enjoyable. They also added nice surprises like the part where we put a bomb on the tanker in the middle and then try to escape without an explosion, so I had high expectations for the part designs in the full version. But come on, “Would you prefer this game to Left 4 Dead 1 or 2?” If you ask… I don’t know. Surely Valve had the magic touch involved; that’s why I can’t unquestioningly say to you, “Don’t waste your time with L4D, play it from now on”. But on the other hand, it is by no means a bad game. It is not a game that has lost its fluidity after being crushed under the weight of different and more complex systems as in Evolve. So for now, the only judgment I can make will be to wait cautiously. It will be a fun game where you can spend a few hours with your friends, as it will most likely come to Game Pass from day one. But if you want the truth, it would be a lie if I said that I do not sincerely hope for more.