Back in the day Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 really hit a home run with co-op zombie slaying action on the Xbox 360 and PC. Twelve years later and we have what many are calling a spiritual successor in the form of Back 4 Blood. Developer Turtle Rock Studios (renamed as Valve South) are the team behind the Left 4 Dead games and even the format of the game name points towards a sequel to Left 4 Dead. But thanks to Copyright/Ownership/Politics Turtle Rock Studios in its current form had to create a ‘new’ IP. And so Back 4 Blood is born.
No Mates? No Fun?
So I will get my biggest gripe out of the way right up front. Back 4 Blood is NOT a single player friendly title. Yes it has a Solo Mode to play through the Story Mode, but not only are you unable to get Achievements, you also don’t earn the Supply Points use as the in-game currency. Missing out on Achievements is definitely a polarising one. I am not too phased with this, but being unable to advance and progress your camp as a single player is a terrible call. Yes, much of it may be cosmetic but in a game like Back 4 Blood you need an incentive to replay. And as a single player it is completely devoid of replay value. Once you have seen each level, that is it. No reason to go back.
I guess it is just the generation we are in now. All online and connect with others in game. Maybe I am getting old. I see it in our 15 year old son. Connects and games with real life mates online, not down the park or shops. So I will be the first to admit, this is where Back 4 Blood knocks it out of the (virtual) park.
Know When To Fold ‘Em.
Your Camp is nothing more than an interactive menu, apart from the shooting range, everything in camp can be accessed via the menu button. The Shooting Range is nice, with access to try pretty much every gun and gadget in the game. This is invaluable because during the actual game you need to know what weapons suit your play style. There are in game upgrades but these don’t carry over between games. It is only cosmetics you keep. And the cards.
Oh, the cards… Not a fan. Basically the game will play a card with negative attributes or extra goals at the beginning of each round and then players will play one each. A variety of perks and buffs are available. You create a Deck and cards are available in the order of your deck. The idea here is to add some variance to each play through, to me, all it created was a gotta-get-em-all card add on.
The Quick And The Dead.
At its core Back 4 Blood looks great and plays super well. It is a really fast game, too fast for the Bots in Solo Mode. The AI really suffered with everything from them falling of cliffs to not helping out downed team right next to them. When I finally got into some games with actual people it was a much more enjoyable time. Even if I wasn’t mic’ed up (yeah, I’m that guy…). Human nature and gamer instincts had every one working together and levels I had struggled with in Solo Mode were just blitzed. I have to admit to being left for dead on occasions due to my own ineptness at this kind of fast paced shooter. But with a bunch of mates this is one hell of a blast.
Up Close And Personal.
Given the great selection of guns and melee weapons, they all feel solid with plenty of variation. I do question the need/usefulness of sniper weapons though. The game is just too fast and not suited to setting up any kind of overwatch. And getting caught in the thick of things with sniper rifle is nothing but trouble. The never ending waves of Ridden (what Back 4 Blood calls zombies) also makes any form of camping a very dodgy affair. Getting overwhelmed will come very fast. Especially if some of the more nasty Ridden head your way.
Back 4 Blood will do well. Thanks to being released Day 1 on Xbox Game Pass. Expecting someone to drop between NZ$120 and NZ$190 for this is just crazy! These prices may just be its downfall. It is a solid game, fun with mates, but has it got the legs? I’m torn. With single player advancement I would probably look at replaying levels to earn Supply Points. Without this, and with very little desire to wait in online lobbies I’m not sure. There is the promise of DLC with an Annual Pass, maybe a few tweaks for us loners will come out? Yay for Game Pass. At least you can give it a crack and make your own decision.