Back 4 Blood (PC) Preview

By Chris Leebody 07.07.2022

Review for Back 4 Blood on PC

Back in 2008, a PC co-op shooter came along that transformed the landscape for multiplayer survival games. Left 4 Dead and its subsequent sequel by Valve was a sensation that still to this day has a dedicated following of fans. While mods have added extra content to the game the one thing they can't change is the passage of time and the changing standards of what one expects from a game in 2021. People have been calling for a sequel to Left 4 Dead 2 for over a decade now and as yet there is no sign of the request being fulfilled. Step forward Turtle Rock Studios - made up of some of those creators who worked on Valve's franchise - to deliver what is being billed as the spiritual successor of Left 4 Dead. This PC release, originally set to arrive in June 2021 is now ramping up development and Cubed3 got the chance to try out the first in a series of online test events.

Anyone familiar with Left 4 Dead will know the kind of style and premise on offer here. Basically, this first-person shooter pits four players working together against a whole hoard of zombies whilst working through a narrative experience.

In Back 4 Blood, the zombies (known in the game's lore as the Ridden) have taken over and have left humanity on the brink of extinction. How these creatures came about is as of yet unknown, but they are far from simply humanoid creations. Like Left 4 Dead, Back 4 Blood has a vast array of different types of Ridden - from those fast movers who will jump around, to great hulking monstrosities who really pack a punch and take a lot of damage. There is even a super large setpiece boss-type Ridden, where suddenly it is a case of running and using guerilla tactics to overcome them.

It's lucky then that there are eight human characters (known as Cleaners) hell-bent on stopping them in their tracks, alongside a whole arsenal of powerful weapons and upgrades. From the usual assault rifles, to Molotov's, sniper rifles and even the trusty bat - there is plenty here to indulge in some monster killing.

The first test on offer was just one of the multi-stage campaigns that can be played through both in online co-op and also as a solo player. This campaign - Evansburgh - took place across four maps, as the Cleaners fought through this abandoned industrial warehouse area to reach safety. It was brilliant how each stage further ramps up the difficulty and sense of tension, culminating in a fantastic and cinematic final section onboard a ship, as two players in the team race to plant explosives, while another two provide cover. The sense of scale and drama is definitely off the charts.

Screenshot for Back 4 Blood on PC

Weapon handling and gunplay in Back 4 Blood feels very intuitive and those making the step from previous titles like this will definitely appreciate that this is a 2021 title in terms of how satisfying the gunplay feels. Equally, melee weapons are super fun to use in the game and pack a real punch. Batting zombies to death is never going to feel anything other than fun - if not a tad overpowered in the game. While this might all sound very familiar to those who played Left 4 Dead back in the day, Back 4 Blood throws a few very interesting mechanics in the mix that definitely feel inspired from modern gaming trends.

Firstly, the weapon attachments and upgrade system was on show in this test event. Money picked up while looting houses can be spent to upgrade weapons or buy med kits etc. While there is still a lot to improve upon, it is a solid start in terms of this mechanic, although hopefully they add to it further.

Secondly, there is a 'game director' system in operation here. What this means is that in theory each run at the campaigns should feel somewhat unique. Of course, the actual mission structure is largely going to remain the same as per the narrative. However, the 'game director' system will alter the number of zombies, their difficulty and generally react to how the players are doing.
The more interesting addition to gameplay comes in the card system that has been implemented. This system - taken from the ever popular 'rogue-lite' genre - gives the player buffs that enhance their stats and players can also put together their own custom decks of cards that fits with their playstyle.

Where this system gets really interesting is that the 'game director' will draw cards before each stage, with these 'Corruption Cards' applying random effects - everything from weather types to more powerful sets of Ridden. The team of Cleaners then have the chance to draw their own cards to combat this. It's an intriguing system and it will be fascinating to see it develop and be built upon as a way of creating really unique runs.

Screenshot for Back 4 Blood on PC

Final Thoughts

Back 4 Blood looks, at this stage, to be a very intriguing proposition. There is still plenty to tidy up and work on, especially in just basic things like UI and inventory management. However, the core gameplay is exactly what fans of Left 4 Dead have wanted in a sequel or remake and they will be very pleased at how Back 4 Blood is shaping up at the moment. There are further online tests to come in the months before release and it will be interesting to see how things improve and are refined. It's one to add to a wish list and keep an eye on.

Developer

Turtle Rock Studios

Publisher

Warner Bros. Games

Genre

First Person Shooter

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  n/a

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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