The concept of Back 4 Blood is dunking. Let the team responsible for developing a zombie cooperative shooting game with Left 4 Dead try this genre again, adding too many modern decorations and new wrinkles to distinguish it from the past works of Turtle Rock Studios. But after countless technical tests and some huge shoes to fill it, can Back 4 Blood regain its magic? Although not perfect, Back 4 Blood is a really fun time with friends. It has enough new skills to make first-person shooter fans come again.
The shootout of Back 4 Blood was a highlight. Those who have played games like “Left 4 Dead” before should be familiar with these weapons, but the exciting moments of fighting against the undead are satisfying. From crushing the cranium of a rider with a bat covered with your nails to cutting down a zombie tribe with LMG, everything has the proper weight, controller rumble and sound effects to immerse you in an intense experience.
Back 4 Blood is difficult, especially at the beginning, I was surprised by its ruthless enemy mobs. Although I like intense moments when victory is a problem, the difficulty balance is off. The change in difficulty comes from the game director. This system will adjust the player’s experience according to the player’s different levels. Everything from fog to burning is thrown at you, which means that two game experiences of the same level may be completely different. Too many times I will pass a level with a slight hiccup, but be overwhelmed in the next few minutes, and vice versa. After the zombies became too depressing, the director seemed to overcorrect. My team could easily pass the remaining levels with only one scratch after a big battle. The game can reach the right balance, but I hope these highs and lows have been adjusted to provide a more consistent experience.
Thanks to the card system, Turtle Rock’s wrinkles in the classic formula, the difficulty curve is easier to manage. As players progress in the cooperative campaign, they will receive supply points that can be used to upgrade cards for each cleaner. These range from small upgrades of 10% to important skills, such as recovering health from kills to extra lives when your team fails to achieve their goals. This experience started to have an impact on me when I started to build courses that suit my situation. By the third act, I have assembled enough cards to create a shotgun-wielding tank that can sprint into battle, destroy dozens of zombies, and then run back without losing too much HP. Thanks to a card, it provided a healthy and prosperous shot for my landing hits. On another occasion, my team and I failed to kill a boss, and we all added a card to increase the damage of the special Ridden weakness by 20%. The more my team changes our decks and equipment, the fewer times we discard ammunition for each other, and we become a more efficient unit. Even after I face the final boss, I still have a lot of cards to unlock, and there are new reasons to go back to the previous level.
As with most games that focus on cooperation, B4B will shine when you have a complete team to smash through the special Ridden. Whether we yelled at each other or laughed because someone screamed after being resolved by a sleeper hugging the wall, Back 4 Blood reminded me why I spent so much time fighting undead in the past and why I I’m very excited that by 2021, everything will repeat itself.
On the other hand, single players may not have so many reasons to be excited. When you need additional health boosts or ammunition, Back 4 Blood’s AI partners will be competent and helpful. But the lack of statistical tracking, supply points, and even achievement unlocking keeps me away from single-player actions. This is disappointing for players who want to enjoy the game on their own.
Finally, I like the Swarm mode of Back 4 Blood, which allows the cleaners to fight the cavalry in sub-parts of the campaign to fight in turn-based encounters. The team takes turns playing the rider or the cleaner, whoever lasts the longest among humans wins. I like playing the undead, but I don’t like some special riders who like Tallboy control and are eager to run for fierce competitions. This mode is not bad offensively, but it pales in comparison to other fascinating co-op packages in the game. After a few rounds in this PvP mode, I’m content to put it down and return to PvE.
Back 4 Blood is one of my comfort food games in 2021. This is a great time with friends who have soothed my itch since the glorious years of Left 4 Dead. Although it never reached the height of its inspiration, the addition of cards made me eager to play more, even if the game is not the most powerful.