9 hours later, Back 4 Blood is really awesome

Back 4 Blood, Turtle Rock Studios’ spiritual successor to Left 4 Dead, is out now and we’re playing it. Okay, it’s not officially “released” until October 12th, but given that anyone who pre-ordered the game could start playing from yesterday, it’s basically in the middle of a live launch. candy. Those who haven’t pre-ordered (because pre-ordering games is silly) or have plans to play them on day one on Game Pass are stuck waiting until Tuesday.

We’ll have a full game review ready by then, but in the meantime I’ve recorded my impressions based on my first nine hours slaughtering zombies with friends. The essential? Back 4 Blood is a ton of fun so far, and not as complicated or bloated as I had feared. Check back for updates as I play more levels, try more cleaners, and unlock more modifier cards.

Back 4 Impressions of the first day of blood

To be honest, I wasn’t excited to launch Back 4 Blood yesterday. I’ve played the early versions of the game twice over the past year, once for the Campaign Alpha and again to try out PvP earlier this year. Both times I didn’t have much fun. I was skeptical of Turtle Rock’s new focus on stat bonuses via maps and didn’t like how much slower it seemed than Left 4 Dead. It was also a bit of a performance mess for me which really hampered the shooter. I’m happy to report that after nine hours with the full set I did a 180.

Back 4 Blood is pretty good, and unsurprisingly, it’s a lot better with friends. The first thing I noticed in the full version was how better guns feel when shooting, a very important thing for a co-op FPS to be successful! Despite noticeably slow tracers coming out of the barrel, everything is scanning, meaning even single firearms can look powerful compared to fully automatic rifles if you do quick headshots.

After years of reruns of Left 4 Dead 2 with friends, the transition from running and shooting to stop and burst was a bit awkward – Back 4 Blood looks a bit more like Call of Duty – but we have found that many guns are pretty. damn accurate from the hip and can get even more so if you buy or loot a few attachments.

Wait, buy and loot in my sequel to Left 4 Dead? That’s right, better weapons aren’t always given to you halfway through a level in Back 4 Blood. At the start of each level, you can spend Copper found in the world to purchase healing items, grenades, guns, attachments, and upgrades that apply to the entire team. At first I was not convinced by the idea of ​​playing with my weapons, but the upgrades are so varied and transformative that they won me over. Do I spend the last of my copper on a suppressor that grants a sneak attack bonus to zombies that can’t see you, or equip my shotgun with armor-piercing cartridges that can penetrate a group of zombies at a time?

Turtle Rock made some smart design choices with its customization and looting that keeps it from getting bogged down. For one thing, starting a level (while you’re still in the vault) is the only time you can really buy stuff and micromanage your kit. And since everyone is doing it at the same time, you naturally benefit from a buying phase of a few minutes before everyone is comfortable leaving the room. Once you’re in the world, you can swap attachments with any you find on the ground, but you can’t dive into an Apex Legends-style inventory screen and decide you want this scope on your other weapon. .

Back 4 Blood is more about making quick decisions and moving on, both because its simple loot makes it easy and because the AI ​​Director will send you a new wave of infected if you hang around too long. .

Back 4 Blood’s special infections (referred to here as Mutations) are one of the main reasons filming is so fun. There are a lot of them – Turtle Rock basically took the infected archetypes from Left 4 Dead and spread them out in all directions.

For example, there is basically a Boomer that spits out hordes of acid and blows it up in your face, but there are also a couple of other variations with different weak spots that can explode on fire instead or, as we see it. seen in the gif above, you throw 40 feet back into an early grave. And in these variations, the director can serve a Corruption Card (a random world modifier) ​​at the start of the level that either makes them more aggressive or gives them thick armor around weak spots. My new favorite monster is the Sleeper, a zombie who asks, “What if the Hunters from Left 4 Dead hid in meaty wall bags until you walked near them and so jumped on you? ”

These nasty sleepers caused a lot of trouble for our group the first time we encountered them, but in a later run my friend was playing Karlee, one of eight Back 4 Blood “cleaners” to choose from. Cleaners have a unique personal ability and a team bonus that benefits everyone. Karlee’s signature is her ability to see special infections through walls, a technique that emerged as we walked through a pitch black house with sleepers on every corner.

back 4 blood card

New cards and cosmetics are unlocked with Supply Points earned just for playing. (Image credit: Turtle Rock Studios)

The cleansers are another aspect of Back 4 Blood that I didn’t think I liked so much. Like the L4D survivors before them, a lot of personality shines through in situational jokes. Each cleaner has 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 pick a character based on which hands I would like to see for the next 30 minutes. So far I’ve kept Doc, a support character who can heal each teammate for free once per mission and starts with my favorite pistol, but I’m seriously thinking about switching to Holly, a bat enthusiast who recovers from endurance for each scrum. kill, which essentially makes it an endless weed wacker of zombie heads.

Turtle Rock seems to have smartly changed the difficulty since the last time I played. The game defaults to the lowest difficulty level of three, Recruit. We noticed a fairly constant supply of ammo and copper which made Act 1 airy and fun (usually in a pair of two with AI mates), but we start to sweat a few levels in Act 2. We We’re sticking to Recruit for now as the levels unlock individually with each difficulty. I’m interested to see how much more difficult Back 4 Blood can get once we’re ready for a second game. From the description, the game has retained some particularly nasty corruption cards.

At the heart of my Back 4 Blood enjoyment is its surprisingly fantastic performance on my rapidly aging PC. I had major framerate issues on my RTX 2060 and Ryzen 2600 processor in last year’s Alpha test, but now in the full version I haven’t had to lift a finger to get an 80- Relatively smooth 90 fps on the High preset. I suspect that Back 4 Blood’s implementation of Nvidia’s DLSS feature helps a lot here. I’ve set it to Quality and so far haven’t noticed any cloudy motion blur that oversampling can sometimes cause.

Back 4 Blood is a big game, and after completing the first act of four, it’s clear that I’ve just gotten to the nitty-gritty. I feel like I’ve played Left 4 Dead for a year and a half by this time, so the variety of maps probably won’t be an issue this time around. That said, it’s a shame that (as far as I know) Turtle Rock didn’t plan for official modding tools, a perk that has kept Left 4 Dead 2 and other Source games alive with new free content. years after its release. Maybe someone will find a way, but I doubt I can ever click a button and turn Back 4 Blood’s Tallboy into Shrek.

I’ll have more to say about the maps, map system, and PvP mode of Back 4 Blood in the final review (PvP seems pretty bleh so far, but with such good co-op I can’t think about it. may not care).

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About Dorie Castro

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