24

Unsurvivable Horror

August 9, 2021 by Tim

I played a fair amount of the Back 4 Blood beta the past few days, and there’s a lot there I really had fun with. It definitely evokes the original Left 4 Dead in a lot of really positive ways, particularly the main cooperative campaign mode.

My group found the Classic difficulty to be a little bit of a snoozefest. Against a strictly AI enemy horde (we don’t get player Special zombies in campaign like we could in L4D) it never felt like we were in danger of being overrun. Nightmare, on the other hand, handily dumpstered us before we’d gotten twenty feet from the safe room. We were not prepared for that.

Survivor difficulty, however, felt about right. Challenging enough that playing too sloppily could easily doom a run, but not so tough it ever felt insurmountable. A lot of the time we’d make it to a safe room by the skin of our teeth, amazed that we’d narrowly made it out alive, which is a great feeling for this type of game.

It’s a game that requires a good amount of communication, and (we found) resource sharing. Selecting weapons that used different types of ammo so we were never competing for drops, and regularly pooling and sharing ammo pickups were a big part of what made it work. The moment you lose even a part of that, it’s a different game.

We mostly played as a premade foursome, but one evening our fourth was unavailable and so we left the slot open for a bot/random matchmade player. It was… an experience.

There are some games that, while playing with friends/people who communicate is naturally better, you can still get through and have a decent time with randoms. Back 4 Blood does not feel like one of those games. It is not a game where one person can just do their own thing and not work with the team, because little mistakes like spooking a flock of birds and alerting the horde can so easily snowball into a disaster that ends the run. I would go so far as to say that given the chance between playing with an open slot again and not playing at all, I would choose to simply not play the game, and wait until my whole group was available. (Note: Classic difficulty may be forgiving enough to fumble through dragging an idiot or two along and still succeed)

With that said, if you can muster a group of friends to play (or are at least willing to assemble a team via a B4B discord to ensure all of your randoms are looking to work together), the campaign offers a fantastic 4-person co-op trip through L4D nostalgia. The guns feel great, the environments I saw in the beta looked cool, the card system is… interesting (it’s too early for me to say if it really works or not).

I can’t thus far say I’m as enamored with the PVP side of the game. Ditching the L4D style “campaign levels but with other players controlling special zombies,”, instead we get a sort of arena-based survival mode. Both teams are thrown into a small, square map, with one side the cleaners and the other side the zombies. The humans have to stay alive as long as they can, and that time becomes the benchmark for the other team to beat when they switch sides.

It didn’t not work… but it also just didn’t feel as special.

I have a lot of other nitpicks, the biggest of which is that I’m still not sure why I would keep playing the game after conquering all of the campaign missions. There wasn’t a whole lot of variety (little things like a room existing in one run, and not in another and ammo changing places) to suggest a ton of replayability. The corruption cards changed stuff like adding mist, or giving some special zombies armor, or more health, but they were pretty repetitive themselves.

I don’t want to go too far down the “concerns I have” rabbit hole, because this is a beta and the game is still a few months away, which means they have a decent amount of time to hear feedback and tweak things. And certainly not everything was shown in the beta either; there’s only one campaign mission, and we couldn’t play half of the Cleaners. So there is a lot more to come.

Exactly how much will be the deciding factor between whether I purchase it or pass. I know the core gameplay stuff is fun now, they just need to have enough content to justify the AAA price.


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Bwauder
Bwauder
1 month ago

Love the look of a comfortable dad/parent group getting stuck dragging along an unwilling shared custody child dumped on them in an emergency.

Vicente Sampedro Burgos
Vicente Sampedro Burgos
1 month ago

I’m really interested in this game, sadly my group has real problems to join lately (troddlers, job shifts), so most of the time I expect I’ll have to play with random people or bots, and from your review, it doesn’t seems that it would be better than trying to play it solo.
It seems I’ll have to wait until Christmas and Dying Light 2 for a zombie killing game I can play with adult schedules,,,

Last edited 1 month ago by Vicente Sampedro Burgos
John Swift
John Swift
1 month ago

Ya i played a tiny bit with a friend in a full team but not much cuz im busy. I was the 5th left out one night so went ahead and played some randos the next day and easy mode is boringly easy yet even the normal mode is way too hard with random players. Also I always spawned in with nothing but my default sidearm which is really bad, esp if i cant run back to the shop anymore and players not waiting for everybody for major hordes like the Bridge to the boat is crushing, even on easy.

TomB
TomB
1 month ago

When we used to play Arma Zombie mods, it was a bit the same. You really needed to be near your team, noise discipline was critical, and it was a good idea to be near your vehicle in the event you had to shoot and draw crowds of zombies while rescuing people from the infected zone. If you had randos being incautious or just plain dumb, you were gonna die. Even with belt fed weapons, you’ve only got so much ammo. After playing about 750 hours of L4D2 (and 1000 hours of L4D), I’m older now and maybe not as… Read more »

Vicente Sampedro Burgos
Vicente Sampedro Burgos
1 month ago
Reply to  TomB

I really hope they consider groups of random players (or solo + bots) and create something between easy and normal.

Jack
Jack
1 month ago
Reply to  TomB

You might have stumbled on the annoying subcategory of people who just like to shoot stuff and don’t care about completing mission objectives.

evilleet
evilleet
1 month ago

I am not a fan of horde or zombie shooters, but i got an invite from a buddy and decided to give it a try anyway. Since my buddy after the invite disappeared mysteriousl, i played a few rounds alone with “randoms”. It was chaotic. Mostly because i didn’t know the maps, but also coordinating was hard and you could clearly see who knew the layout and rushed around and me who didn’t know wtf i needed to do. Also having players join you with a high ping, made the enemies rubberband around or their heads magically moving out of… Read more »

Vicente Sampedro Burgos
Vicente Sampedro Burgos
1 month ago
Reply to  evilleet

Zombi Army fixes that by changing the amount of number of bomb, fuel cans,,, for the number of live players. So if you are two player and 2 bots, you only need to carry 2 fuel cans, so no need to worry about bots behaving dumb.

Admiral Casual
Admiral Casual
1 month ago

I grew up with ASD, and while I appreciate you trying to come to my aid, thinking you’re doing something right, I can assure you that the public at large has never had much qualm with hating my myriad disabilities and behaviors. I’d much rather see REAL social change rather than Tim change his comic to be less offensive, not to people who are born retarded, but rather willingly BECAME retarded.

Admiral Casual
Admiral Casual
1 month ago
Reply to  Admiral Casual

Oh no, I’ve been downvoted! Woe is me!

YOU people are part of the problem I just mentioned. Thank you so much for proving my point.

evilleet
evilleet
1 month ago
Reply to  Admiral Casual

You people? xD It amazes me how reality just passes by you. You who gets offended by a frame of a webcomic, you who when being down voted gets offended by being down voted. I think, you good sir, are part of the problem. A SJW who throws stones at progressive people because you are unable to understand that it is not our problem that you are offended, its yours. Using a disorder to justify your online outrage is, quiet frankly, amusing. Either it is that, or you are an online troll desperate for attention. So that is enough from… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by evilleet
Admiral Casual
Admiral Casual
1 month ago
Reply to  evilleet

I WASN’T offended by the frame of a web comic. I was pointing out that, in the grand scheme of things, it mattered very little and I would have preferred to see people with actual mental disabilities treated better. I certainly have suffered enough of that kind of injustice in my life. Giant megacorps don’t give any more of a shit about ASD than they do about anyone else, but they always light up the social media feeds every April. But really, I’m getting tired of arguing with people on the internet. What you said had nothing to do with… Read more »

Sayer
Sayer
1 month ago
Reply to  Admiral Casual

Funny you should say that, because the argument you are having (with no one?) has no reason to have been posted here. Who is this hypothetical person “who thinks they’re coming to your aid”? Like yeah, sure “megacorps” don’t give a shit about social justice beyond how it impacts their image/bottom line. No argument here from anyone. Would it be great if people with actual mental disabilities were treated better? Absolutely! Why is your initial post halfway into those arguments under a comic about a shitty experience with adding a clueless rando to an established group?

GraySkye
GraySkye
1 month ago
Reply to  Admiral Casual

Oh no, lets make a big deal about bigotry because 5 people chose to click a button. Seriously throwing a fit because 5 people didn’t like your comment?

Sayer
Sayer
1 month ago
Reply to  GraySkye

Was a comment snipped? Can’t figure out what set The OP off. It’s like the middle of a fight no one is having.

GraySkye
GraySkye
1 month ago
Reply to  Sayer

As far as I can tell, the way Tim drew Bucknasty

Egasilon
Egasilon
1 month ago
Reply to  Admiral Casual

I’m ASD too, diagnosed when I was 5 years and 4 months old, and guess what? I see nothing wrong with this comic. You’re getting offended because, as far as I can tell, Tim drew a guy with a underbite acting stupid. Some people have underbites. Some people act stupid. There are times when the two coincide. In the past, he’s drawn comics which I can see would be vaguely offensive to some people. They weren’t even that bad, and this is not one if them. And I have my doubts that you are even on the AS. If we’re… Read more »

MasterofBalance
MasterofBalance
1 month ago

Zombies, the lesser of two evils?

uggron
uggron
1 month ago

I’ll take a rando over a bot every time, though. I’ve seen bots literally surrounded by ridden just… staring. Not reacting at all to their flesh being torn apart. Other times it’s not even a swarm, but a single common ridden destroys your bot while you’re busy comparing guns…

Vedrit
Vedrit
1 month ago

I never was much interested in L4D or WarZ… All this hype is lost on me.

TimeViewer
TimeViewer
1 month ago

PUGs in any game can be an…. experience… I’ve found tho that if you’re able to drag an idiot through hard/vet content then doing it with an actual functional team will be a cakewalk. Idiots actually have a use, they help you train to be a better gamer. It’s kind of like training in lead weighted gear.

Rolan7
Rolan7
1 month ago

I hate to “well actually” the newspost, but players wouldn’t ever jump into the co-op modes as special zombie. It was something I often wondered about, because the game obscures a lot of what’s going on, but that was limited to the Versus mode(s).

I’m really interested in this game, though. I still find myself returning to L4D2, once or twice bringing back some of the friends I made years ago. It’s a promising formula.

Rolan7
Rolan7
1 month ago
Reply to  Tim

Yeah you’re right! Sorry for the confusion (and thanks for the comics!)

GraySkye
GraySkye
1 month ago

I have 2 questions… Is TFB your groups tag? (If so, mind sharing what it means?)
Which one are you?

GraySkye
GraySkye
1 month ago
Reply to  Tim

Fair enough, don’t as you don’t know.

Unagiman
Unagiman
1 month ago

I think this is generally true of a LOT of multiplayer games. I played a lot of Battleborn back in the day and I was playing with my ex and whatever other people we got matched with. If people picked the right characters you’d stand a chance, but sometimes you’d end up with groups who all picked characters they thought were cool rather than what was a good combo/balance for the team.

Lily
Lily
1 month ago

I feel like I have been traumatized and my first gut reaction it to always avoid multiplayer games. There was a point where I would never even consider buying a multiplayer only game, though I have gotten better over the years with lots of cheaper(some times even free) multiplayer games coming out that are really good. Still spending $60 on a mainly multiplayer game still makes me very reluctant. The worry always comes from bad randoms, and also the possibility the game might ‘die’ early on.

James Not-A-Zombie Jameson
James Not-A-Zombie Jameson
1 month ago

As a socially inept loner whose main enjoyment of L4D2 came from the extensive community mods, I don’t think I’ll be picking up B4B. It just won’t be the same if I can’t use a portal gun that inexplicably fires shotgun shells to fight Daleks, Big Daddies, Slimer from Ghostbusters and Darth Vader.