Back 4 Blood, the new co-op team shooter from Turtle Rock Studios, has been with us for just over a month now. In the spirit of the game, simply reviewing the game from a single viewpoint seems unfair to the experience Back 4 Blood wants to convey.
So instead, we’ve asked around the whole team to give their opinions on the game after a month with it.
Brett – 8/10
I spent a lot of time with Left 4 Dead over the years. Both the original and its sequel. It was always such delightful mayhem where every playthrough felt slightly different. Hearing there was a spiritual successor being made by the original team would obviously excite me.
I played the betas and I enjoyed it. Some solid gameplay mixed with some fun maps. They were a passable way to entertain and, in the full game, are what kicks off the campaign.
They are also arguably the weakest levels of the game. Once you get pass these introduction levels it just keeps getting better, with some genuinely fun moments that I enjoyed even when playing with bots.
Bots are temperamental when it comes to their usefulness. They do a job but, much like other multiplayer focused games, are not the best way to play it. Once you play a map again with real people you’ll realise how much more entertaining it can be. Yes even those earlier levels.
The cards add some fun mixups to the game to help it always feel fresh and allow you to finetune to your playstyle. If you’re more of a melee person there’s some great cards for that which mess up your gunplay, but that isn’t that important when you’re all about getting up close and personal. Building your deck as you push through a run feels rewarding and it’s a nice extra layer to the game.
Speaking of gunplay I found it far tighter than L4D. Picking out enemies from a distance was fun. As was picking up items to unlock certain rooms that may or may not be full of treasures. I even enjoyed the Cleaners. They haven’t been as instant a hit with me as the heroes in the Left 4 Dead games but there’s no denying they’re likeable and at times deliver some great one-liners.
Back 4 Blood has everything that I like about Left 4 Dead type games and is arguably better in some places than the series that birthed the genre. Hopefully it can maintain a community and continue to grow, much like its predecessor did.
Sara – 7/10
Confession time – I never played Left 4 Dead. It was never really my cup of tea; I was definitely more of a ‘casual gamer’ when it was released in 2008. In fact, shooters just aren’t my thing. That fact may be enough for you to scornfully close this review, but hear me out.
With a lot of persuasion, I was convinced by my friends here to give this spiritual successor a go. It wounds me to say, but they were right to push me. The comically over-the-top gore, the incredible sound design and the winding maps were a riot – I had just as much fun laughing at our group staggering our way through to the end as I did mowing down swarms of zombies. If you’ve never played a game like this before, I would genuinely recommend getting a group of friends together and giving it a go.
Josh – 7/10
I, much like Sara, do not have a great deal of experience with the Left 4 Dead games. Part of that is because of how difficult I find it to organise co-op campaigns. There are so many other games to play at this time of year. Combine that with work and family responsibilities, good luck finding four pals with schedules that line up each week.
As such, I was eager to give Back 4 Blood a go as a solo player. While it’s possible to play through the lengthy campaign with AI companions, Back 4 Blood punishes you harshly for it. You lose out on earning experience points as well as any new cards that vary the gameplay loop.
It’s a shame, because the underlying gameplay and level stages of Back 4 Blood are genuinely intriguing. It was a blast to run through some of the early levels, mowing my way through the ridden hordes with my quippy companions in tow. The game’s comical gore fest visuals and audio design make shooting a gruesome thrill. Each new stage offers varied locations and mission objectives, so I always felt like I was being kept on my toes.
If you were a fan of the Left 4 Dead games, then you’ll surely involve your time with Back 4 Blood. Just be sure that you’ve got a group of likeminded players to team up with, or be prepared to queue with online randoms. It’s not much fun to invest yourself in a game when you know you’re being actively penalised for your playing habits.
Olly – 6.5/10
Back 4 Blood is fine. It’s perfectly serviceable. As a longtime Left 4 Dead veteran I was interested to see how Turtle Rock Studios would deliver a spiritual successor to one of co-op gaming’s biggest darlings.
The new systems and mechanics introduced in Back 4 Blood; the cards, the wave-based PvP mode and the weapons vendor system does a good job of separating the game from its predecessors. But on the other hand, it detracts from Left 4 Dead’s ethos of being a game we can enjoy just for the fun of it. Now when I’m booting up the game, I’m trying to unlock new cards, or tweaking a loadout. I’m engaging with the game’s progression systems at the cost of enjoying the game for what it is. It’s distracting.
I’m also not too keen on the narrative. Back 4 Blood’s cleaners all feel too artificial. It’s wisecrack after wisecrack. I don’t really get to know these people personally, instead they feel like they rehearsed all their lines in the bathroom mirror earlier that morning. Left 4 Dead’s characters may have also fit into specific archetypes but at least they had personality!
The level design in Back 4 Blood is decent though. There’s one mission where you have to defend a group of survivors as they escape, so you hold out in a nearby bar and blast the jukebox to distract the Ridden. It’s easily one of the coolest moments of the game and really had that Left 4 Dead insanity rush feeling behind it.
I don’t think I’ll revisit Back 4 Blood in a decades’ time the same way I do with Left 4 Dead now, but it does a good enough job at modernising the formula for better or worse.
Back 4 Blood code was provided to GameByte by PR.
Featured Image: Turtle Rock Studios
After calculating the scores together, we have a collected median score of…