Developer – Turtle Rock Studios
Publisher – Warner Bros. Games
Platform(s) – Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5 (reviewed), PlayStation 4, PC
MSRP – $59.99
Release Date – October 12, 2021
Disclaimer: Code was Kindly Provided for these Impressions
For anyone who needs a quick introduction, Back 4 Blood is the spiritual successor to Left 4 Dead. I’m sure 99.9% of the people reading this have heard of Left 4 Dead but I’ll explain for the 0.01% that are unfamiliar. Left 4 Dead was first released in 2008 and is a game that’s meant to be experienced cooperatively by up to 4 players, any remaining roles will be taken up by A.I. Weapons range from firearms, melee weapons, and throwables such as Molotov and grenades. You’re tasked with running through infected creatures (zombies if you will) moving from objective to objective.
That’s the main gist of what you did in the original Left 4 Dead and what you’ll be doing in its spiritual successor. Back 4 Blood is an FPS and is developed by the same makers of the original Left 4 Dead, Turtle Rock Studios. Left 4 Dead was published by Valve but Turtle Rock split off from them years ago and made their studio independent. With the Left 4 Dead IP being owned by Valve, it only made sense for Turtle Rock to do something close to their roots and that leads us to where we are with the release of Back 4 Blood.
I can’t say that I was a massive player of the Left 4 Dead games but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have fond memories of the beloved title. I was intrigued to try out Back 4 Blood and wanted to see how it shakes up to Left 4 Dead. Firstly, the game is a lot nicer to look at than Left 4 Dead, which isn’t necessarily a worthy comparison to make considering both games were developed on widely different hardware.
Back 4 Blood is a game that’s intended to be a co-op experience first and foremost. You can play the campaign alone but it’s clear Turtle Rock wants you to play with other people. I played some runs of Back 4 Blood in the solo campaign and co-op. Solo will no doubt be the faster option in terms of overall completion but co-op offers a better overall experience.
If you were to ask me what I prefer overall between singleplayer or multiplayer, I’d say singleplayer. There are tons of multiplayer games over the years I’ve grown to enjoy such as Overwatch or Rust, but I much prefer a single-player experience. I bring this up because the great thing about Back 4 Blood is that you have the option to do both based on what you prefer. The only big issue is that progression in the solo campaign is next to nonexistent which seems like a major problem in a game that gives the player the option to play alone. Turtle Rock has said they’re aware of this issue and working on ways to address it.
Gunplay feels incredibly smooth and polished from what I’ve played of the game so far. I love that Back 4 Blood makes use of the adaptive triggers on the DualSense as well. I think the healing mechanics can feel a bit awkward at times especially when I’m trying to heal others. Sound Design is well done and the soundtrack while probably not the most memorable is still nice from what I’ve heard.
Be prepared the further you get in Back 4 Blood because the difficulty ramps up substantially in certain instances. Back 4 Blood is set in Acts and if you fail a mission a certain amount of times you’ll be taken back to the start of the act and start over from the beginning. The game may seem relatively easy at first but don’t get too comfortable because the spikes in difficulty appear randomly and quickly. The special infected creatures don’t feel as well balanced as they should be and can feel absurd to battle at times.
This next opinion will be especially subjective for Back 4 Blood. After fiddling with it for a little I’m not a big fan of the card system that’s in place. I find the system a bit too convoluted and the overall feeling I get from it is that it feels a bit off and doesn’t flow as well as it could.
The last thing I want to get into is the characters and their designs. This is a part of the game where it doesn’t live up to its full potential. The designs are pretty basic and aren’t anything you haven’t seen before.
I do think that Back 4 Blood will be enjoyable for those who were massive players of Left 4 Dead. I do enjoy the game but I think it’s gonna have a hard time keeping a consistent base post-launch. There may be tons of content updates coming to the game in the future but only time will tell.