So far, Back 4 Blood is a lot of the things I love about Left 4 Dead •

So far, Back 4 Blood is a lot of the things I love about Left 4 Dead •

Nice parquet. Is it weird that this is the first thing I notice? There are very nice floors at the start of the campaign in Back 4 Blood. But maybe it’s not weird at all. Back 4 Blood is the spiritual successor to Left 4 Dead – it’s another zombie game. And zombie games are, perversely, often the most domestic games. To function properly, they have to take place in a recognizable world, so game designers have to step back from heavy metal album covers and space stations and focus on the things a lot of us live in. Like the parquet. (I wish.) Nice, maybe a little scuffed. Maybe a little too much blood and smeared brain.

It’s been a few hours so far, and those are happy hours. What I didn’t expect, to be honest. Over the last few days, I feel like people are a little bored with Back 4 Blood. Progression systems and unlocks that don’t work if you’re playing solo. Frustrations that I can easily understand.

The more I play, I suspect the more this stuff will become known. The basics are clear at least from my early hours: revived for 2021, the Left 4 Dead model now has the attributes of most modern live-action games. Unlocks, things to win, cards that each unfold in different ways. I’ll leave this stuff to Chris Tapsell and his reviewer. I don’t avoid it because I can’t bother to dig into it. I avoid it because so far I can only play Back 4 Blood like I played Left 4 Dead: like a game where progression is a pretty foreign term. A game that takes place in an endless present, without any thought for what comes next, what comes after.

It sounds a lot like Left 4 Dead in this regard, that is, Back 4 Blood includes both parts of the deal. Zombies must be energetic, maddening, and sprinkled with Specials, like the muesli is sprinkled with raisins. (Too few raisins and you feel robbed, too many and you feel oddly disappointed, as if the rationing that makes the whole thing special is lacking – for more on that, read Fergus Henderson.) It’s a part of the case. The other part is that your team, the four of you are taking on this ancient wasteland, you have to feel a bit like casting a community type show. A sitcom with a penchant for violence, threat and chaos, but with a warm heart too. You have to love the people you are, the people you travel with and their frantic barking during the firefight has to go beyond information – ammo! Bandages! – and want to bicker: jokes, personal frustrations, a funny thought occurring at the worst moment.

Back 4 Blood has that too, thank goodness. Already when I play, I keep an eye on these special zombies while leaning forward so as not to miss a zinger from one of my team. The list you choose is called Cleaners, which is just the right cool, aloof term for this hipster apocalypse. I already have favorites: who wouldn’t love the woman who took the time to hammer nails into her baseball bat? Who wouldn’t love the one whose nickname is “Mom”?

You follow these people through worlds that are both familiar and rather new. The winding road through destroyed buildings and scattered lawns looks very familiar – that instantly evocative feeling of squeezing through a hole in a wall, then out a window and across a path of planks strung above. a parking. The wonderful realization, just as your ammo starts to run low, that there is a safe house nearby. But new things too – new flame effects when someone (usually me) detonates a gas canister at the wrong time. A truly surprising variation on special events and – whisper it – the bizarre monster boss that dominates the landscape.

And maybe a new eye for the striking piece of the setting. Going around a corner a few games ago, I found a patch of flaming reds and oranges as the fire did its thing out of control. But before it, silhouetted against the raging heat, five dark figures with missing pieces. They heard my approach and they started towards me, and the thoughts of cards and decks and unlocks were far away for the next ten minutes.

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