If you’re anything like me, then you’ve probably poured countless hours into the Left 4 Dead series. Since then, many have tried to copy this format, but none really came close. In most cases, these titles do their best to mimic the co-op shooter’s formula, but there’s always been something missing. Well, developer Turtle Rock Studios has returned to the genre to release Back 4 Blood. No, this isn’t legally a part of the Left 4 Dead series, but it turns out that it’s so much more.
Back 4 Blood gives players the same core gameplay that we are used to from the previous titles, kill a ton of zombies as you progress through the stage from safe room to safe room with friends. However, some new mechanics had me a bit skeptical at first. I mean, adding cards that affect your character and gameplay? That’s not the Left 4 Dead I remember, but to my surprise, it was a new refreshing element that gave this title a much-needed twist.
The new perks come in the form of cards that you unlock as you progress through the game. Players can construct different builds of perks, making them excel in melee techniques or take on more of a healer role. From what was present in the alpha, there’s a ton of cards to choose from, so you’ll definitely find something to fit your playstyle.
Another new addition is the currency system known as Copper. With Copper, you can upgrade weapons or buy leathals, medkits, or a handful of other things. As I touched on earlier, I felt like these new additions would hurt what makes these types of games fun. However, the core gameplay loop still retained a familiar form. Still, I never felt like I was playing a clone of the developer’s previous titles.
During gameplay, choosing a character actually has a bit of purpose now, whereas, in the past, we only choose our favorite. In Back 4 Blood, characters come with unique perks and starting weapons, so it’s possible to select your character around your playstyle. When it comes to the list of enemies, the new specials make for some fun encounters. While I miss our old charger and spitter, the team gave us an altered version of them with Bruiser and the Hocker. Also, special infected now glow red with weak spots to make them easier and faster to kill. I look forward to seeing more types of infected when the game launches.
Since I played Back 4 Blood in alpha, I did run into a few issues like frame rate drop and very minor bugs such as that dreaded ladder. I also really wasn’t a huge fan of the menu as the UI felt very crowded and overall not appealing to look at, but again this was an alpha build, so these issues will hopefully be addressed. The developer made sure to take feedback, which hopefully they bring to the final game.
Overall I was really happy while playing Back 4 Blood. It transported me back to the old days of playing Left 4 Dead with friends and represents what a possible third entry could have been. The gameplay retains much of what makes these co-op shooters so great, but with the addition of new mechanics that work surprisingly well. The developers have a great project in their hands and I’m very excited to see how this game evolves. Back 4 Blood is scheduled to launch on June 22, 2021.
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