Back 4 Blood (PC) Review: The Most Fun You Can Have With Friends Online Right Now
Left 4 Dead has been left for dead for quite some time now by Valve. Fortunately, Turtle Rock Studios, the developer behind the original L4D, had other thoughts in their mind and delivers a phenomenal sequel to the popular series. Thus make ready for Back 4 Blood.
As you may understand, there is actually a story embedded in the game and although I don’t think that a single player out there, intends to play Back 4 Blood for its deep touching story, I intend to summarize it for you.
There’s this parasite, and it turns those infected by it into living deads (might have heard something similar before?). You and your friends play as a group of four called the Cleaners. They’re the world’s most fearsome fighting team (They’re really hip!). Together you fight the zombie hordes — called The Ridden, and attempt to save the few humans that are still surviving out there. And when the evil Ridden attacks, these cleaner gang don’t cut no slack!
Each of the eight playable Cleaners has their own background, and this influences their individual buffs and starting weapons. For example, the character named Doc, can heal each teammate for 25 Health once per level, has +20% healing efficiency, and +25% Team Trauma Resistance.
As you probably already know though, this isn’t really a game that needs much story. There are cutscenes and all that, but for the most part, people are going to determine their favorite characters from their default buffs and weapons and not their sparkling personality.
Despite the immediate similarities, Back 4 Blood isn’t just a L4D clone with some modern sensibilities. Sure, there’s the walking dead, and you do kill them by the truckload with melee weapons and firearms that you can modify to your liking. However, there are enough changes and new gameplay elements to shake things up.
Back 4 Blood’s gameplay flow is actually fundamentally different from its predecessors. It’s a zombie shooter balanced around stop-and-pop action, one that encourages identifying and dealing with threats at range, rather than heading into a gorup of zombies shooting at everything that used to have a pulse (😏).
Something that keeps Back 4 Blood appealing run after run is the Director. This AI essentially balances the game, increasing the difficulty when a group is doing well or easing it when the going gets rough. Unlike with Left 4 Dead, the Director in Back 4 Blood is more transparent with how it affects the party. The new card system includes Corruption Cards that are drawn at the beginning of each level. These can have minor effects like making everything foggy or more major ones like making more alarm doors appear throughout a level that can alert the horde.
I have played both the PS5 version and the PC version during my review, and think that Turtle Rock offers a really nice game here. The frame rate is stable, the world is stylish and credible with smart use of delimiters instead of invisible walls. There is also good environmental variation, which is always a plus in a multiplayer game intended to be run over and over again. The sound picture is also great with meaty effects, heavy explosions and good use of surround.
But unfortunately everything is perfect. Back 4 Blood is a distinct multiplayer game. Turtle Rock Studios has hyped in advance, the fact that you can play the game in singleplayer mode. And even if you certainly can, it’s really boring. None of the systems used to level up your deck are used, nor are you allowed to save your stats or earn Achievements/Trophies. And perhaps worst of all, are your insanely stupid teammates, whose artificial intelligence is completely non-existent. Be prepared to go crazy over their decisions more than once.
Overall however, I think Back 4 Blood is a worthy successor to Left 4 Dead. It has everything that made the original game so good and a little more, combined with modern gameplay and lavish production values. Every game round will be lined with memorable moments you and your teammates will laugh at for a long time to come and it will often be unbearably exciting.
Don’t buy this if you intend to play alone, but if you just want to have fun in the company of good friends, you can hardly find anything better right now.
Back 4 Blood is available on PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS5 and Xbox Series X. I reviewed the game on PC with a code provided by the publisher.