The concept of Back 4 Blood is a slam dunk. Give the team tasked with leading the way in the zombie co-op shooter with Left 4 Dead another shot in its genre, adding a plethora of modern attributes and a new wrinkle to set it apart from the past work of Turtle Rock Studios. . But after countless technical tests and a few huge shoes to fill in, can the frenzied first-person shooter regain the magic? While not perfect, Back 4 Blood is a really fun time with friends, and it has enough new tips to keep fans coming back for more.
The Back 4 Blood shooter is a highlight. The weapons should be familiar to anyone who’s played titles like Left 4 Dead before, but the thrilling moment-to-moment battles with the living dead are satisfying. Everything from smashing mounted skulls with your nail covered bat to mowing down zombie hordes with an LMG, has the proper weight, controller rumble, and sound effects to immerse you in an intense experience.
Back 4 Blood is difficult, especially at first, and I was surprised by its relentless enemy monsters. While I loved the stormy times when victory is in question, the balance of difficulty is off. Challenge changes come from the Game Director. This system alters player experiences from level to level, throwing you from fog to infected flames, meaning that two parts of the same stage can be completely different. There were too many times I would go through a level with minor hiccups, only to be overpowered within minutes of the next segment and vice versa. The Headmaster also seems to correct too much after the zombies get too oppressive, and my team would easily go through the rest of a level with little more than a scratch after a big fight. The game can strike the right balance, but I wish those highs and lows had been tuned to provide a more consistent experience.
This difficulty curve is more manageable thanks to the card system, the Turtle Rock ride on the classic formula. As players progress through the Co-op Campaign, they earn Supply Points which can be spent on Upgrade Cards for each Cleaner. These range from minor 10% buffs to vital skills like restoring health after killing to an extra life if your team fails their goal.
The experience started to kick in for me when I started creating classes that matched my situation. By Act 3, I had gathered enough cards to create a tank wielding a shotgun that could sprint into the fray, take down dozens of zombies, and retreat without losing much health, thanks to a card that m gave health for hits with my boom. Another time my team and I were unable to finish off a boss, only to knock it down when we all added a card that added 20% damage to the special Ridden weak spot. The more my team varied our decks and loadouts, the less ammo we had to drop for each other, and we became a more effective unit. Even after facing the final boss, I still had plenty of maps to unlock and new reasons to go back to previous levels.
As with most co-op games, B4B shines the most when you have a full squad ripping the Ridden Special apart. Whether we were shouting orders at each other or laughing when someone screamed after being accosted by one of the Sleepers hanging on the wall, Back 4 Blood reminded me why I spent so many hours fighting. walking dead in the past and why I’m so excited to do it. it all starts all over again in 2021.
On the other hand, solo players may have less reason to be excited. Back 4 Blood’s AI companions are proficient and helpful when you need a bonus health or extra ammo. But the lack of tracking stats, supply points, or even unlocking achievements kept me away from solo action. It’s disappointing for players who want to enjoy the game on their own.
Finally, I passively enjoyed Back 4 Blood’s Swarm mode, which pits the Cleaners against the Ridden in campaign subsections to fight in round-based encounters. Teams take turns playing as Ridden or Cleaners, and whoever lasts the longest with humans wins the round. I enjoyed playing as the undead, but I don’t like how some of the Ridden specials like tallboy control and yearned for intense campaign matches. The mode isn’t offensively bad but pales in comparison to the rest of the game’s captivating co-op package, and after a few laps in this PvP mode, I just ditched it and returned to PvE.
Back 4 Blood is one of my 2021 comfort food games. It’s a great time with itchy itchy friends I’ve had since the glory days of Left 4 Dead. While he never reaches the heights of his inspiration, the addition of cards makes me want to play more, even when the game is not at its strongest.
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