Often secondary, but still a fun co-op shooter that has a chance of both growing into something big and quickly losing its fanbase
Back 4 Blood is released on October 12 – a new game from the authors of the first Left 4 Dead. Apparently, the experiment with Evolve was considered unsuccessful, and the studio Turtle Rock decided to return to the proven formula – a cooperative zombie shooter. We have already completed the game, played dozens of online matches, and now we are sharing our impressions.
The gameplay of Back 4 Blood resembles Left 4 Dead as much as possible. Four players move from one safe point to another, and on the way they shoot ordinary zombies, special infected and bosses. Sometimes, for further movement along the level, you need to activate some object: say, lower a bridge or open a gate. At such moments, the game warns that after activation, a horde of corpses will run to the place, so the heroes have the opportunity to prepare and think over their defense.
There is a plot in Back 4 Blood, but just for show: the program again includes experiments with a virus, brutal military men and mad scientists. It is not at all necessary to follow the story, it still does not tell anything interesting. But the communication of the characters is done great: they are well voiced, react to each other’s actions and joke regularly. There are eight characters in total, so it’s fun to try different combinations. But the B4B ending is upsetting: the epic battle ends with some very awkward hint of a sequel, which is not a fact that it will come out.
In addition to killing zombies, players need to look for ammunition and collect copper coins – for them at the beginning of the round, you can buy grenades, first-aid kits, weapons and power-ups for the whole team. Sometimes collecting loot comes with a certain risk. Currency often lies next to flocks of fearful birds, calling a horde of zombies when taking off, or in cars with alarms, which also attracts the dead with their howls. Copper can be ignored, but by the end of the campaign, the passage without pumping can become noticeably more difficult.
The game has great control over the difficulty: as soon as you start to get impudent and rush forward, monsters crawl from around the corners, and the special infected start to grab the teammates catching up with you
The company of ordinary zombies is made up of special infected, who, to varying degrees, copy the abilities of monsters from L4D. They spit acid, grab and immobilize players, and, of course, hurt them. Alas, in terms of special infected Back 4 Blood has almost nothing new to offer – the monsters do everything the same, just with minor differences. We did not even begin to learn the new names of the monsters and until the very end of the story campaign we used the terminology from Left 4 Dead: no problems arose. The only thing that can be highlighted is the zombie traps that jump on the gape of the players.
In general, Back 4 Blood is very similar to Left 4 Dead, but there is one notable innovation – the system of cards that modify the match and the abilities of the players. Cards are divided into two types: some affect the starting conditions of the round and add bonus objectives, for the completion of which you can get additional currency. For example, locations can be covered with fog, making it difficult to see, and zombies will become immune to fire. Other cards strengthen the player or the entire team at once. For example, they increase the maximum ammunition, allow you to restore grains of health for each kill in melee, or significantly increase stamina and the speed of its recovery.
At first glance, the map system seems confusing, but in reality it is quite simple to understand. For the successful completion of the chapter, players receive special currency that can be spent on chains of rewards – from cosmetic items to new cards. From time to time you need to look into your deck and rebuild it, adding new abilities. After completing the campaign, the number of cards starts to scare: there are about 200 of them in total, but for some reason it is impossible to get rid of unnecessary ones.
Examples of maps
There are three difficulty levels in Back 4 Blood, and they differ dramatically. Low – for experimentation, exploring locations and maps. You can even complete the campaign without any problems together, and shooting at friendly ones is turned off. At the intermediate level, it will be difficult without communication with comrades. Ordinary zombies have more health, bosses hit harder, and you also need to think about positioning so as not to injure allies. It is definitely not worth entering a difficult level during the first passage: without good maps, a full command and voice communication, it is difficult to go far, even from a shelter.
Despite the secondary nature, playing Back 4 Blood is interesting, especially if you miss the genre or Left 4 Dead itself. The map system and AI that adjusts the difficulty of the match on the fly add an element of randomness to each round. Zombies do not slow down and actively surround the player, and special infected can suddenly attack at once in a couple, or even in a crowd. Shooting doesn’t feel as cool as, say, in the latest Modern Warfare, but it does its job.
The main difference between Back 4 Blood and Left 4 Dead is the multiplayer, which is taken out of the plot. In the last game, one team tried to complete the campaign, and the second controlled the reinforced infected and tried to kill the members of the first group until they got to the shelter. Now all battles take place on separate maps: a team of people in a shrinking location is fighting off waves of zombies, and other players are helping the dead as special monsters. Then the sides change places, and the group that shows the best survival time wins.
Melee combat with the right skills is a very workable option for most levels, although you will still need a firearm for boss fights
PvP is Turtle Rock Studios’ most controversial decision. In ideal conditions, online work and play is fun: people and monsters are forced to constantly change their strategy and help their partners. It will hardly last for a long time, but he is definitely capable of prolonging the pleasure of the game.
However, there are several pitfalls at once. Firstly, it is difficult to find a balanced game in B4B: a lot depends not only on your team, but also on the opponent. Often, at the end of the first round, someone on the losing team leaves the match. After that, one team remains in the minority, and no one else will be connected to it – it remains to suffer and, gritting his teeth, lose (or win, yawning). You can leave the game, but, as a rule, the same happens in the next match.
Secondly, in multiplayer, the map system also works, which greatly affects the match. After completing the story campaign, you can customize your deck so as to instantly raise comrades, quickly heal, independently get out of traps and inflict high damage. If at least one player does not set up the deck correctly and does not agree with the rest, it will be difficult to win.
Finally, online there is simply not enough room for maneuver and interesting game situations. In Left 4 Dead, Smokers pulled people into the abyss, Thugs threw them out the window, and Jockeys dragged them in the direction of the Witch – one good attack could bury the whole team. In Back 4 Blood, all cards are played the same way. At best, you can grab the players and hope that they do not know how to break out of the grip on their own. Interaction with the environment, as well as situations that are deadly for people, are sorely lacking.
There are hopes that a Left 4 Dead-style mode will be integrated sometime after release. In the story campaign, there are even places where the infected will have a chance to turn around. But this will most likely require new special monsters.
Rewards are combined into such chains – to get the last one, you will have to buy all the previous ones
Separately, it is worth mentioning monetization, or rather, its absence. In the release version, you cannot spend real money on the progression: only earn currency by completing the campaign or in PvP. But the system itself is built as if the authors have such plans. All cosmetics and cards are linked in chains, so sometimes you have to spend a lot of points to get even a cheap skin or card. The developers said that they do not plan to implement pay-to-win mechanics, but recently such promises are regularly violated.
Back 4 Blood is a good co-op shooter that has the potential to be great. Here you can have fun with friends, moving from one difficulty level to another, or go to multiplayer in the hope of finding a decent team.
But a lot will depend on the support of the game: new chapters, maps and characters. And most of all, B4B will be helped by the L4D-style PvEvP mode. It seems that in order to avoid comparisons with its last hit, Turtle Rock decided to cut something out of the new game. But mistakenly abandoned the idea that could only make the shooter better .