Back 4 Blood, Turtle Rock Studios’ spiritual successor to Left 4 Dead, is out now and we’re playing it. Well, it won’t officially “come out” until October 12th, but given that anyone who pre-ordered the game can start playing as of yesterday, it’s basically in the middle of a simple launch. Those who haven’t pre-ordered (because pre-ordering games is ridiculous) or plan to play them on day one on Game Pass, are still waiting until Tuesday.
We’ll have a full review of the game ready at that time, but in the meantime, I’m recording my impressions based on my first nine hours of slaying zombies with friends. essence? Back 4 Blood is a lot of fun so far, and not as complicated or bloated as I feared it would be. Check back for updates as I play more levels, try more cleaners, and unlock more mod cards.
Back 4 days one blood Impressions
In fact, I wasn’t excited to start Back 4 Blood yesterday. I’ve played early versions of the game twice in the past year, once for the alpha campaign and again Try PvP earlier this year. Both times, I didn’t have much fun. I was skeptical of Turtle Rock’s new focus on base rewards through cards and didn’t like how it felt much slower than Left 4 Dead. It was also a performance mess for me, which really got in the way of gunplay. I’m happy to report that nine hours into the full game, I made a 180.
Back 4 Blood is pretty good, and it’s no surprise that it’s a lot better with friends. The first thing I noticed in the full version is how much better guns feel to shoot – which is very important for a co-op FPS to get in shape! Despite the seemingly slow detectors flying out of the barrel, everything can hit, which means that even single-fire rifles can feel powerful compared to full-auto rifles if you land quickly in the head.
After years of rebooting Left 4 Dead 2 with friends, going from running and stopping to stopping and popping was a bit awkward — Back 4 Blood is a bit like Call of Duty — but we’ve discovered that many of the guns are pretty darn accurate from the hip and can It becomes more accurate if you purchase or loot some attachments.
Wait, buy and loot in the Left 4 Dead sequel? That’s right, the best guns don’t always get delivered to you mid-level in Back 4 Blood. At the beginning of each level, you can spend the copper in the world to buy healing tools, grenades, guns, attachments, and upgrades that apply to the entire team. The idea of fiddling with my guns wasn’t sold at first, but the upgrades are so varied and transformative that it drew me in. Do I spend the last piece of copper on a suppressor that grants a sneak attack bonus to zombies who don’t see you, or equip my gun with armor-piercing rounds that can hack a bunch of zombies at once?
Turtle Rock has made some smart design choices with customization and loot that keeps it from getting in the way of things. First, the beginning of a level (while you’re still in the safe room) is the only time you can really buy things and manage your kit. And since everyone is doing it at the same time, you naturally get into a buying phase of a few minutes before everyone feels comfortable leaving the room. Once you’re out into the world, you can swap attachments for attachments you find on the ground, but you can’t dive into an Apex Legends-style inventory screen and decide you want that scope on your other gun.
Back 4 Blood is more about making quick decisions and moving forward, because its simple loot makes it easy and because the AI boss will send a new wave of infection your way if you’ve been reckless for too long.
Back 4’s blood infection (called mutations here) is a big reason why shooting is so much fun. There are a lot of them – Turtle Rock has basically taken infected archetypes from Left 4 Dead and expanded them in every direction.
For example, there’s basically a Boomer spitting acid that attracts a crowd and explodes in your face, but there are also two or three other variants with different vulnerabilities that might explode into fire instead or, as shown in the photo above, throw you 40 feet back into an early grave . Within these variants, the director may present a corruption card (a random rate of the world) at the beginning of a level that makes them more aggressive or gives them a thick shield around weaknesses. My new favorite monster is Sleeper, a zombie asking, “What if Left 4 Dead’s Hunters hid inside fleshy wall bags so you could walk close to them and Then pounce on you? ”
These bad sleepers were causing our group a lot of trouble the first time we encountered them, but on a later run my friend would play Carly, one of the eight “cleaners” in Back 4 Blood to choose from. Cleaners have a unique personal ability and one team bonus that benefits everyone. Carly’s signature is her ability to see privately injured through walls, a technique that came into grip when we were navigating a pitch-black house with stairs in every corner.
Cleansers are another aspect of Back 4 Blood that I didn’t expect to like very much. Like the L4D survivors before them, much of the character comes through in situational banter. Each cleaner has several different ways of saying “why the hell did you shoot me” and the person they’re talking to has several versions of “cold, it was an accident”. But unlike L4D, I don’t just choose a character based on which hand I’d like to see over the next 30 minutes. So far I’ve been working on Doc, a supporting character who can heal every teammate for free just by doing a quest and starting with my favorite pistol, but I’m seriously considering switching to Holly, a bat enthusiast who gains stamina for every melee kill, which basically makes her endless. From weeds to zombie heads.
Turtle Rock seems to have cleverly changed the difficulty since I last played it as well. The game defaults to the lowest difficulty level of three, Recruit. We noticed a pretty steady supply of ammo and copper that made much of Chapter 1 breezy and fun (usually as a party of two with AI buddies), but we started to sweat a few levels into Chapter Two. Stick to recruitment now because levels unlock individually on each difficulty. I’m interested to see how hard it will be to get Back 4 Blood once we’re ready to play again. Based on the description, the game was blocking some corruption cards that are particularly mean.
At the core of my Back 4 Blood fun is its surprisingly great performance on a rapidly aging PC. I had major frame rate issues on the RTX 2060 and Ryzen 2600 CPU during last year’s Alpha test, but now in the full version, I don’t have to lift a finger to get 80-90 fps on the higher preset. I suspect Back 4 Blood’s implementation of Nvidia’s DLSS feature helps a lot here. I’ve set it to quality, and so far, I haven’t noticed any of the cloudy motion blur that super sampling can sometimes cause.
Back 4 Blood is a big game, and after I finished chapter one of four, I’m obviously now getting into the meat of it. I feel like I’ve already played Left 4 Deads and a half back then, so map diversity probably won’t be an issue this time around. However, it’s a shame (as far as I can tell) that Turtle Rock has no plans for official mod tools, a feature that kept Left 4 Dead 2 and other source games alive with new and free content years after release. Maybe someone will find a way, but I doubt I’ll be able to click a single button and turn Back 4 Blood’s Tallboy into partner.
I’ll have more to say about Back 4 Blood’s maps, the card system, and the PvP mode in the final review (the PvP mode looks great so far, but with such a good collaboration, I might not care).